PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) –Summer is known for camping, swimming, and other fun outdoor activities. But here’s a new one to add to the list: reading to therapy dogs.
The Pittston Memorial Library holds a ‘Furry Tails Reading Partners’ program where children can do just that. Helene Skopek-Krygyer, the program director, says that the program is popular among kids.
“Children come in and read to the dogs. I mean they fall in love with them. And that’s really awesome,” she said.
Skopek-Kryger says that not only do the kids have fun with the dogs, but the dogs help the kids’ reading abilities as well.
“A lot of the children who are not reading as well as they could are looked upon by their peers as children that are falling short of reading. And a lot of times they make fun of them, unfortunately. And the children have low self-esteem as far as reading goes and reading to the dog takes away that peer pressure,” she said.
The program is a part of another program called R-E-A-D, or Reading Education Assistance Dogs. The reading assistance program began in Salt Lake City, Utah but has since spread across the country and eventually to different continents.
“There was research showing that if the residents would pet the dog their blood pressure would go down. And one of our handlers out in Salt Lake City had the idea of having a program where children could read to dogs,” she said.
Furry Tails Reading Partners has 15 dogs working for the program. The dogs are trained to be comfortable with different noises, different people, and all sorts of scenarios. They visit schools and libraries in Pittston, Wilkes-Barre, Allentown, and many more places. Carrie Gundling, the Saturday children’s librarian, says both the children and the dogs enjoy the program.
“I think it’s a really great outlet for the kids to have a place where they can feel like they are the ones getting to read to someone. And who doesn’t love to get to sit next to a dog and spend some time like that? And it’s so much fun for the dogs too, to get some time with the kids,” she said.