101 Reading Dalmations

I suspected that my 101st Book Burglar Blog would involve bemoaning the completion of Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. While I will sorrily subject you to that at some stage, I thought it worth featuring something a little happier: dogs who listen to us read.

Dogs who what? Yeah, the same words popped into my head and out of my mouth. At first I thought the dogs did the reading. Then I realised they do the listening. Or rather, accompanying. Non-judgemental accompanying.

Basically they lie next to kids reading aloud as gentle encouragement and a confidence booster. Dogs don’t mock like kids or correct like adults do, enabling less-confident readers to find their reading feet in front of a supportive audience. And maybe let the kids dish out some pats too.

Now, I’m not entirely convinced that the dogs are listening—I have a healthy suspicion that there’s some doggy dreaming or daydreaming going on—but company is company and I think it’s a great idea. Especially as the dogs probably enjoy the attention. Dogs already help guide our society’s visually challenged and bring joy to the elderly when they visit them in hospital or nursing homes, and many of us already talk to our dogs, so helping kids read is a natural progression. As a side note, I think the kids would be plenty amused if/when the dogs fart and clear the room (which, c’mon, we all know they will).

I also particularly love this article about listening dogs from The Guardian, which include these gems of quotes:

  • ‘It helps with their self-esteem in reading out loud because he is non-judgmental,’ says the dog’s owner, Tony Nevett, who has a degree in animal-assisted therapy. (I included this one because the first time I read it, I thought it was the dog who had the degree in animal-assisted therapy and was suitably impressed!)
  • ‘He doesn’t judge them and he doesn’t laugh at them. He’s just a tool […]’ (Um, pretty sure the dog wouldn’t appreciate being called that)
  • ‘When Danny goes to sleep I tell the children that he’s dreaming about their story.’ (All together now: awwww.)

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She regularly appears as a book reviewer in Australian BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER magazine. Fiona is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.