DuBOIS — A tail-wagging tutor has been visiting students at DuBois Central Catholic School, encouraging them to be comfortable reading aloud.
DCC started a “Reading to Dogs” program for kindergarten through third graders twice a month, said Director of Admissions and Marketing Debora Kruise.
When Library Assistant Elaine Jacob heard about Boomer, an 11-year-old certified therapy dog, she thought he would make a great fit, Kruise said.
“It gives children practice in reading, without worrying if others are judging their reading ability,” Kruise said. “It’s easier to read to a dog than adults and other children.”
Boomer is an 11-year-old Cardigan Welsh Corgi, trained through Therapy Dogs International, said his handler Kathi Myers. Boomer also visits the Rehabilitation floor at Penn Highlands DuBois regularly.
Boomer is also a retired show dog, and was a Top 10 Cardigan Welsh Corgi in the country for three years. He was certified as a therapy dog at 6 years old.
“Boomer has the greatest personality for this,” she said. “He is always happy and loves everybody.”
The children love the program, Kruise said, and meet with Boomer in groups of three, with each child taking turns reading.
“Boomer knows we are going to DCC when coming up the road, because he’ll start whining and carrying on in excitement,” Myers said.
Boomer has a bed in the library office, she said.
“When the kids aren’t reading to him, they’re petting him,” she said. “They’ll show Boomer the pictures in the book. He just relaxes and gets attention.”
Myers said students have also received bookmarks with Boomer’s picture on them.
Some children may be unsure of the dog at first, Myers said, such as a little boy who stood in the doorway at first, but soon took an interest in Boomer and realized he wasn’t a threat within five minutes.
“It’s rewarding to see the smiles on the kids’ faces,” Myers said. “They are so well behaved, and the staff and administration have been very receptive.”
Boomer is also going to visit the pre-kindergarten class in December, Myers adds.