Therapy dog helps young readers improve their skills

By Douglas McCulloch | Jul 03, 2017
Photo by: Douglas McCulloch Charles Santos, 9, reads to Buckeye as he relaxes.

Young readers still learning the ropes are getting a helping hand from man’s best friend in their studies.

Every Monday this summer, Morgan Mowbray and his golden retriever and Labrador mix Buckeye are stopping by the Southworth Library for “Read with a Dog” sessions. Buckeye is a certified therapy dog, and works with children to help develop reading skills.

It’s geared towards kids who struggle with reading – be it shyness, mental or physical disability, or other issues interfering with reading, Mowbray explained. The idea is to pair kids up with Buckeye to create a safe and non-judgmental setting where kids can read at their own pace without any pressure or worries.

It’s a goal that Mowbray himself has seen in action. One of his fondest memories of his past six years bringing Buckeye to the library was witnessing a very shy child picking up a book and reading to Buckeye after watching their sibling go first. He’s able to see improvement in children’s reading abilities because he sees a lot of repeat sign-ups every year.

“We have a lot of kids coming back every summer,” Mowbray said. “It’s always interesting to see how they improve.”

It’ also turned Mowbray and Buckeye into something of local celebrities, often spotted by children and families who have participated in the program.

“I run into people that know the dog, but I don’t have any idea who they are,” Mowbray said.

On July 3, nine-year-old Charles Santos took a stab at reading “Splat the Cat” to a watching and resting Buckeye, giving a thumbs up and even reading two more books with Buckeye after finishing.

The library offers three sessions each week through the end of August, although the program is so popular every slot this year is already filled. There is a waiting list, however, and those interested in requesting a spot on the list can contact the library’s Children’s Department at (508) 999-0726, ext. 373, for more information.

Buckeye poses for a photo. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
Comments (1)
Posted by: | Jul 05, 2017 14:59

Great article - thanks Douglas

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