Did you know that Dog Tutors Help Children in Reading? Many canine friends nowadays offer dog therapy and sit along with kids and ‘listen’ to them in reading a book. Let’s meet one of them: Sandy a golden retriever, who is owned by Dennis and Linda Ertel, and serves as a dog “tutor” in the Read to Dogs Program in their local library. The program has been going on for several years and has been very successful. Find out more about Sandy in this article on the Buffalo News website on how Dog Tutors Help Children in Reading.
Dennis J. Ertel didn’t know what was wrong with him when he was a kid learning how to read. He just knew that something was wrong.
“I have a real reading problem,” Ertel said. “When I was younger, I would get so frustrated. I would see words, and they would be backwards or upside down. I might read three or four words, and then the book is gone.”
He eventually was diagnosed with dyslexia, he said, but “back then in the ’60s and ’70s, people didn’t know what I had.”
Now 48, Ertel doesn’t want to see other children struggle like he did. Thanks to a four-legged friend and the North Tonawanda Public Library, he’s helping to make a difference.
Each week, Ertel and his wife, Linda, volunteer with Sandy, their 8-year-old golden retriever, at the library’s Read to the Dogs program. The program has been offered for several years and is held on Saturdays and/or Sundays from 2 to 4:30 p. m. in the library at 505 Meadow Drive.
The program is designed to turn what can sometimes be a chore into a fun afternoon with a furry new friend, but also to encourage more children to read.
Ertel, a City of Tonawanda resident, said he was on a mission when he first brought Sandy to the library to encourage children, even reluctant readers, to start reading more.
He said that to this day, he doesn’t “read,” in the strict sense, choosing only books on mechanics and woodworking and using pictures to translate for his job as a heavy-equipment operator at Modern Disposal in Blasdell.
Ertel said he proposed bringing Sandy to the library several years ago precisely because of the frustration he once felt.
“I still see kids that can’t really read, and they make up their own stories,” Ertel said. “That’s fine. I don’t care. At least they are trying to do something with a book, even if they pick up only three or four words. They are doing something with books.”
Linda Ertel said that Sandy, who is a trained therapy dog, also helps children who might be a little afraid of animals, giving them a safe and loving experience with an animal.
“She loves giving kisses, and kids are just her size,” Linda Ertel said.
For the Hallock children of Wheatfield, who are all home-schooled, Sandy provides them a chance to pretend they have their own dog, something that all three of them are wishing for.
“Just like Annie,” 6-year-old Carrisa said of the dog’s resemblance to the canine with the same name in the Broadway and movie musical, as she is greeted at the door with a happy doggy smile….
It’s nice to know that children are enjoying the unique experience of having dog therapists help them in learning how to read. It just goes to show that dogs can be trustworthy companions when they are trained well towards humans. Sandy has proven and will continue to prove that Dog Tutors Help Children in Reading.
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