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    “Ruff” Readers visit depot library

    “Ruff” Readers visit depot library

    Photo By Cpl. Bridget Keane | Katie Greene, 10, reads her favorite book to therapy dog, Davy, at the library Aug. 8...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Bridget Keane 

    Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego

    SAN DIEGO - The unconditional loving nature of a therapy dog can be calming to all. Their patient, friendly and non-judging demeanor is an effective way to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, schools, people with learning difficulties, and stressful situations.

    The sound of laughter and children reading can be heard throughout the Library as service member’s children participated in the “Ruff” Readers program Aug. 8 aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

    “This program is a great way for children to learn how to read,” said Patty Grahm, librarian. “It gets kids excited about books. Reading to dogs encourages children to have emotion while reading; it also allows them to learn and interact with the dogs.”

    The “Ruff” Readers program was developed by the nonprofit organization Independent Therapy Dogs, Inc., and was designed to help children of all ages learn how to read and learn the responsibilities of owning a pet, explained Shirley Colman, founder of ITD, Inc.

    “A study came out that lasted 10 weeks. Children would read to a dog once a week for 15 minutes,” said Colman, a 61-year-old Berkley, Calif. native. “Below grade readers improved in reading skills 36 percent and at grade readers improved by 42 percent; we are really trying to promote the benefits of what our therapy dogs can do.”

    Children, accompanied by their parents, rushed into the library’s fiction reading area to find therapy dogs with their handlers. Blankets were laid out as children gathered around to take turns reading to the two therapy dogs, Davy, an 8-year-old American cocker spaniel, and Fabiana, a 7-year-old yellow Labrador.

    “Toddlers will pick up a book and start to tell a story with the pictures and our dogs will just lay there and enjoy the time spent with the kids,” said Colman. “This is also beneficial because it gives the kids a sense of responsibility when it comes to being a pet owner.”

    Colman explained that ITD, Inc. has high hopes that therapy dogs can promote responsible pet owners and teach children how to act around a pet so there can be less animals incidents. She also hopes it can encourage families to adopt pets and that animal shelters will become less crowded over the years.

    “Most of our dogs are rescue dogs, like Davy and Fabiana,” said Colman, who is Davy’s handler. “It can be any kind of dog, any kind of breed. As long as they have the right disposition, have all their vaccinations and go through our certification classes.”

    Both dogs allowed the children to pet, cuddle and read to them as parents watched and enjoyed the learning experience.

    “I think this is a wonderful opportunity,” said Susan Greene, parent. “It gives the children a chance to read, be surrounded by books and learn how to behave toward animals.”

    Although this was their first time attending the “Ruff” Reader’s program, Greene and her daughter Katie, 10, and her son, Jack, 7, frequently visit the depot library.

    “I’ve never seen such docile animals,” explained Greene. “The kids had a real fun time and they love reading.”

    ITD, Inc. has attended MCRD events such as Make-A-Difference Day and the Health and Wellness Expo for the past two years. “Ruff” Readers is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. every Wednesday in the month of August. For more information, contact the depot Library.



    Date Taken: 08.08.2012
    Date Posted: 08.21.2012 19:18
    Story ID: 93598
    Location: SAN DIEGO, CA, US 

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