Pets As Therapy dog Doug
Do you know a child who appears reluctant to read and lacks confidence in their literacy skills? Do they become nervous or stressed when reading to others in a group? If so, then perhaps you should consider inviting a therapy dog to your school.
One such dog who enjoys spending time with school children is Doug, a six-year-old pug who is a Pets As Therapy (PAT) behaviourally assessed dog. Every week Doug, along with his owner and PAT volunteer Cate Archer, visits a junior school and infant school in Buckinghamshire, and encourages young boys and girls to read and communicate in a relaxed and non-judgemental environment.
Doug and Cate have been working with schools for four years as part of the read2dogs scheme. ‘The children love it,’ smiles Cate. ‘They gain confidence enormously from reading to Doug as he doesn’t correct or interrupt. Not only does their reading age improve but the children also contribute in class much more.’
One child who refused to speak to teachers wrote a letter to Doug explaining her worries about starting a new school. ‘The little girl was too nervous to sit an assessment exam,’ reveals Cate. ‘However, the new school was able to assess her academic level by looking at Doug’s letter.’
Cate doesn’t insist upon children reading at first, sometimes she just lets them snuggle up to Doug and listen to her reading aloud. ‘To make it more relevant I decide to make up a tale about Doug,’ she says. ‘Then a friend of a friend suggested I write a book about him. It was at that point I decided to incorporate emotional and behavioural support in the story so that the book could support the feeling of self worth and school being a place that can be enjoyed.’
The result is Doug the Pug - A Working Dog’s Tale, priced £7.95, published by 5m Publishing. All royalties from the book are being donated to Pets As Therapy, a national charity that aims to enhance health and wellbeing in the community. ‘I so love the work I do,’ Cate announces, ‘and feel Doug most certainly does too.’
To buy a copy of the book, Doug the Pug – A Working Dog’s Tale, visit www.amazon.co.uk.
On average, over 6,000 children per week, across the country, benefit from the read2dogs scheme. For more information about Pets As Therapy and how you can apply for a dog to visit your school, go online to http://www.petsastherapy.org/