My junior year in high school, I tutored elementary school kids in reading. Twice a week, during scheduling breaks I had between my high school and Running Start classes at Clark College, I would trek down the hill and across the football field parking lot from my high school to the elementary school where I met with second graders to help them improve their reading skills. I bet they wished I could have brought my dog along!
In 1999, Intermountain Therapy Animals launched the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.®) program. Inspired by medical studies that showed being close to pet animals has a calming effect on humans (except when they shred your piano music/netflix DVDs/napkins, eat - wrappers and all - an entire bag of Vitamin C drops from your purse, or devour a freshly hand-kneaded and baked loaf of bread they helpfully liberated from the dinner table on Christmas day in front of your guests. . .), this program pairs dog and owner therapy teams with kids to improve literacy. The theory holds that under-performing children read better and more willingly to non-judgmental canine companions. They also gain social and empathy skills when working with the pooches.
Based in Woodinville, Reading with Rover is one of the Seattle area affiliates of the now international R.E.A.D.® program. All dogs and owners are also trained and registered as Delta Society Pet Partners® therapy teams. They will be visiting Redmond on Tuesday, May 19 and Tuesday, June 2 at Borders Bookstore in Redmond Town Center from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.