Elizabeth, 6, just finished up her Paws 4 Reading program. Paws 4 Reading is a free program, hosted by our library, that is geared to help emergent readers practice their new skill by reading to a St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dog.
Therapy dogs are often seen at children’s hospitals and senior’s homes and across university campuses during exam time. The dogs are docile and loving, and provide companionship and calming effects. Unless your name is Elizabeth. Elizabeth is very frightened of dogs. So when I saw the Paws 4 Reading program advertised at the library, I knew it would make, or break, Elizabeth.
Session 2 of 4: Walks in, picks a book, sees her new reading dog is a GREAT DANE, gulps, sits, and under direction pets the dog. Speed reads and leaves post haste.
Session 3 of 4: Walks in, picks a book, sits closer to the dog, this time it’s a Collie, so the dog gets a hello and a pat. Slower heart rate, less sweating.
Session 4 of 4: Walks in, coat off, grabs a book, and…HUGS THE DOG?!?! WHAT? YES! Elizabeth had the same Golden Retriever as in session one, and she walked right in and HUGGED him. Mission accomplished. Mom had tears people…tears.
Long live Elizabeth the Brave.