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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

Read to a Dog event improves literacy

Library dogs

Colorful paw prints on the floor of Monroe County Public Library created paths to direct families from library entrances to the children’s section Saturday for a special event, Read to a Dog.

Completely volunteer-based, the program happens roughly once a month at the public library.

“The kids love it. The dogs love it,” library volunteer Mary Anne Ward said.

From 10:30 a.m. to noon, children were given the opportunity to practice their reading skills by choosing a book, sitting down next to a dog and reading aloud.

Ward estimated that 25-30 kids had the opportunity to read to a dog Saturday. She considered that to be a slow day. 

All dogs that took part in the program are Animal Reading Friend (ARF) certified. There were three dogs available Saturday, including a schnoodle—or schnauzer and poodle mix—named Zeus.

While children took turns reading to the dogs, they remained calm and quiet. “Reading to a dog is just absolutely inspiring,” Bloomington resident Dagnija Berzins said. “The dogs don’t criticize.”

Berzins said her granddaughter, Yverre, enjoyed her time at the library that morning. When she was finished reading her book out loud she gave multiple hugs to Henry, VIPaws Pet Partner volunteer Lori Shields’ dog.

VIPaws is a Monroe County Humane Association program that organizes animal-assisted events around the Bloomington area. Training is required for all dogs and owners who volunteer for the program. Volunteers and their dogs spend time at schools, nursing homes and area events to provide the community with the benefits that bonding with an animal can provide.

“We spend time on campus during finals week,” said Dale Steffey, Pet Partner volunteer and Zeus’s owner. “It gives the students a chance to relax.”

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