It may sound strange but research in America has suggested that children who read to dogs improve their literacy levels far more quickly than those who read to another person. The reason seems to be that dogs listen quietly but cannot help the child so it is up to them to work things out for themselves. Reading and Education Assistance Dogs (READ) provide animal-assisted therapy in schools and libraries. Burns have been providing food for the UK READ greyhounds for several years.
Tony Nevett introduced READ to the UK and, with his ex-racing greyhound “Scotts”, promoted the scheme across England and made quite an impact on educators. Shortly before Scotts passed away, Tony had been given a Greyhound puppy, Danny, and he has now gone on to step into Scotts’ paw prints. In his drive to promote READ Tony has been featured in several TV programmes and is shortly to feature in the CBBC factual series ‘Animals at Work’ with John Barrowman. Both Scotts and Danny have even been to Downing Street!
Two years ago a second partnership joined Tony in the form of Kelly Bakewell and her greyhound, “Batman”. Both Tony and Kelly find greyhounds ideal for this job as they have a naturally gentle and laid-back nature.
In order to become a READ both handler and dog have to undergo a series of tests and exams to prove their suitability but, with the increasing popularity of this scheme, the need for READ is sure to grow.
For more information on READ see www.therapyanimals.org