These Kids Are Reading To Shelter Dogs, And It’s The Best Idea Ever.
The good people at the Humane Society of Missouri wanted to come up with a program that would make a big difference for their animals, especially those whose temperaments would make them more difficult to get adopted.
"We wanted to help our shy and fearful dog without forcing physical interaction with them to see the positive effect that could have on them," program director Jo Klepacki said in an interview.
So what did they come up with? The Shelter Buddies Reading Program, wherein local children come to the children and practice reading to the dogs.
It might sound a bit peculiar, but think about it: The dogs are kept in their kennels while the children read to them, thereby encouraging interaction but not overwhelming them. Over time, the dogs become more accustomed to being around humans -- and therefore, better-suited for adoption.
Children from the ages of 6 to 15 can participate, and are given special training to determine if the dog is stressed out or frightened. Then, the volunteer kids are encouraged to read to them until they calm down.
"Ideally that shy and fearful dog will approach and show interest. If so, the kids reenforce that behavior by tossing them a treat," said Klepacki.
The program also serves a second purpose: To bring in more potential adopters to the shelter.
According to the shelter, hearing a child read is incredibly calming, even to high-energy dogs.
"It's encouraging children to develop empathy with animals. It's a peaceful, quiet exercise. They're seeing fearfulness in these animals, and seeing the positive affect they can have," said Klepacki. "It encourages them to look at things from an animals perspective."
Source: The Dodo