Northside Readers Bond with Tail Wagging Companions
Second-grade students in Melissa Tintle's class at Northside Elementary School read to therapy dogs Toby and Joey on Feb. 28 as part of the school's pet therapy reading program with Bideawee, a pet welfare organization serving metropolitan New York and Long Island. Through a variety of services Bideawee cultivates and supports the life-long relationships between pets and the people who love them.
Coordinated by Northside reading specialist Dyanne Case to encourage reading and build students' confidence, about four dogs and their owners visit the school each month to read with different classes in the building and help students who struggle with reading. The dogs create a relaxed environment free of judgement for students to read.
Joey's owner Marcia Berrios and Toby's owner Loretta Keating created two sections in the school's library where the second-grade class was split into small reading groups. The students read "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" by Ron Barrett while petting either Joey or Toby. Each student had the opportunity to read the book out loud with their peers. At the conclusion of the book, the class sat and watched as Berrios and Keating showcased Joey and Toby's tricks.
The partnership between Bideawee and Northside Elementary School was formed four years ago after Case read "Rosie: A Visiting Dog's Story" by Stephanie Calmenson. She was inspired to find an organization that could come into the classroom and comfort students as they read.
"Reading to the dogs helps my students feel comfortable and relaxed about reading," said Case. "My goal is to foster a love of reading. When children love to read they become better readers. They are all very excited about reading to the dogs and I love to see their smiling faces as they read each month."