Something beautiful is happening at the Humane Society of Missouri, The Shelter Buddies Reading Program. The program is making a huge difference to both children and animals by bringing the two together and allowing the children to practice their reading whilst giving the often shy and fearful dogs a chance to interact with others.
The programs director, Jo Klepacki, originally came up with the idea to let children read to the shelter dogs. “Ideally the shy and fearful dog will approach and show interest. If so, the kids reenforce that behaviour by tossing them a treat,” Klepacki told The Dodo. “Hearing a child reading can really calm those animals. It is incredible, the response we’ve seen in these dogs.”
The program has been running since last Christmas and allows kids that are 6-15 years old to sign up for the opportunity to read to the dogs. In addition to this they take a 10-hour course that helps them learn and understand a dogs body language, allowing them to pick up on when a dog is nervous or stressed.
In addition to improving their reading skills the children that read to the dogs are also benefiting from the program as they learn to develop empathy with animals. You can learn more about the program here.
Watch them in action: