A Four-Legged Listener Creates Enthusiastic Readers

This article appeared in the Summer 2014 News from the Village.


Travis and Messiah with Pauly

“You mean all these books are for kids to read?” Benny exclaimed as he entered the children’s room at the Dobbs Ferry Library. Benny and three friends from CV’s youngest cottage were visiting the library for Pawsitive Tails, a program that invites struggling or new readers to cuddle up and read to trained therapy dogs. The boys carefully selected their books and settled onto the blankets surrounding Pauly, a 6-year old black Lab, listening to each other as they took turns reading Biscuit Plays Ball and Marley and Me. Pauly put his head in the lap of whichever child was reading, the privilege of his heavy head on their legs acting as both motivation and reward. The boys made sure he looked at every picture and understood every big word.

For some of the kids, this was their first visit to a public library. They learned how it worked and the importance of caring for the books so the next person could enjoy them. At the end of their visit, the librarian told each boy he could choose a book to bring home. Messiah said, “I don’t think I can.” He was worried he would lose it or ruin it for the next person. But when the boys understood that she was giving them the books to keep, each selected the book he had read to the dog so he could “share with friends” and “remember how fun this was.”

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