As I have shared with you on my About Page, I love dogs! And something I really enjoy doing is volunteering at Austin Dog Alliance. This is a great organization that offers training for dogs, including programs for dogs to become pet therapy dogs.
Austin Dog Alliance has a wonderful program called Special Dogs for Special Needs, where pet therapy dogs are trained to go on to become companions to special needs children.
Bow Wow Reading Dogs
The pet therapy program at Austin Dog Alliance that is nearest and dearest to my heart is called “Bow Wow Reading Dogs“. These are pet therapy dogs who are specially trained to go into schools and libraries to work with children who struggle to learn how to read.
You see, dogs love to be read to. They are also very loving and patient and don’t mind if you read slow or stumble on your words. They’re just happy to be with you and hear your voice. This can be incredibly comforting to the kid who struggles with reading. Trust me, as someone who struggles with dyslexia, I know how comforting a dog can be as a reading companion!
Bow Wow Reading Dog: Max
I’d like to introduce you to Max. Max is a Bow Wow Reading Dog and my friend. I first met Max when I attended K-9 Kids camp at Austin Dog Alliance, then I went on to work with Max to help train him to become used to being around kids for the Bow Wow Reading Dogs program. But Max was easy to work with because I think he was born being used to spending time with kids. He’s just a beautiful all around great dog!
My dog: Obi-Wan
I’d also like to introduce you to my dog, Obi-Wan. She’s not an official Bow Wow Reading Dog, but ever since she joined our family five years ago, she’s been my reading companion.
You may be wondering why Obi isn’t in the Bow Wow Reading Dogs program. Well, when Obi was a puppy she was found on the street and brought to a rescue group who put her up for adoption. She was just 11 weeks old and sick but I couldn’t resist adopting her, especially since our beloved Po, a cute Boston Terrier, had died and our family needed to fill the hole in our hearts. I have great parents who agreed. As my Mom always says, “Every boy needs a dog and a Mother who will let him have one.”
It turned out that Obi had parvovirus and was very sick. She had to take a lot of medicine and we had to keep her quarantined in our home for about 6 months until she recovered and could eventually receive her canine vaccines. She did recover and is a happy and healthy dog today. Spoiled too! 🙂
But Obi can get a little nervous in loud rambunctious environments like a school, and her attention span is a bit short, not making her a great candidate for the Bow Wow Reading Dogs “official” program. But she is certainly in our “unofficial” reading program!
Tips for dyslexics: Practice reading to your dog
Reading to your dog is a great way for dyslexics to practice reading!
In this video, I’m reading parts of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to Obi, and you’ll notice that she wanders off from time to time. 😉 But I don’t mind in the least because she is “The Best Dog Ever!”
Learn more about Austin Dog Alliance
Austin Dog Alliance is an amazing organization and they are in the process of building a new expanded facility to train even more dogs in their Special Dogs for Special Needs program and related therapy dog programs. To learn more, to volunteer, or to donate to this worthwhile cause if you wish, be sure to check out their site by clicking on their logo below: