Bideawee has offered pet therapy programming since 1985, and now five dogs will help children learn to read, be more comfortable reading out loud, and be more at home around dogs.
Ryan-Meuschke adds that having an animal present while conquering big steps like reading aloud is especially comforting for kids.
“Whether they’re nervous to read in front of other people or they just haven’t really honed in on their skills, having an animal present that they can pet and be next to relaxes them. Having a dog there makes kids excited to read instead of fearful to read,” she says.
The program has received positive feedback in the community, and more Long Island and NYC schools and libraries are scheduled to received a visit from Bideawee’s reading therapy dogs soon.
“The typical feedback is, there was a student who was just struggling so much, they didn’t even want to come to class,” Ryan-Meuschke says. “But they would be so excited when the dogs came, they would be the first one in line ready to pet the animal and ready to read. For kids who [might be] scared of dogs, this is the best way to introduce kids to the animals as well. If they are part of the reading program and they are initially scared of dogs, by the end of the year they’re the first ones in line petting the dogs because they’ve had such a positive experience.”