Credit: Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle. Seven year old Alec Gauthier makes sure that Willow, a St. Bernard, is listening to every word. PAWS to Read program at the Pleasanton, CA Public Library.

I’ve written about this before.

Almost a year ago, I mentioned that Fergus and I would be volunteering at one of the local elementary schools in the reading program devised for children who need a safe, non-judgmental environment in which to practice reading. They read to a dog who’s just happy to be with them. Well, it didn’t work out for the Spring 2017 semester, but we’re going to our orientation on September 29 and our first session is the following Friday, October 6!

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I’m excited. Fergus will be too when he gets to orientation and gets to hang out with other dogs. I think I’d better take him on a long hike before we go to wear him out a little bit …

Fergus is a mellow dude

Our local program is based upon the READ (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) program, but spun off a few years ago when READ started requiring certification of the dogs. Our little group calls itself, DAWGS. I’ve been trying to find out what that stands for, to no avail. If I get an answer, I’ll come back and update this post. READ, though, is an international program established in such countries as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, South Africa, Slovenia, Spain, Netherlands, Norway and others. It’s nothing fancy, children read to dogs. How sweet is that?

Sasha Mix, 8, of Batavia, IL reads to Bozeman, 5, owned by Gail Banning of Aurora, IL at Batavia Public Library’s Paws for Tales reading program.

Christian Agama, 7, left, of Placentia, CA reads aloud to Toby, a therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International at Placentia Library’s Read to the Dogs program.

Maybe some of you have participated in these kinds of programs? We have a lot of friends in some of the countries I mentioned – please let us know how successful they’ve been where you live (if you know). I’m curious!