Browsing "Human-Animal Bond"

The Dog Aid My Homework

Most kids love dogs, but not all kids love reading aloud. For some children, reading in front of adults or peers makes them extremely anxious or embarrassed, and can contribute to them falling behind in reading fluency — a very dangerous road to go down.

A student who can’t read on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time.

But again: most kids love dogs. So here’s where Ghost, a champion show dog and great listener comes into the story.  Ghost’s owner Dawn Eliot-Johnson brings him to Harrison Elementary School every two weeks, where third and fourth-grade students read to him as he dutifully listens (and often sleeps) while curled up beside them. Ghost, along with many other dogs across the country perform this duty for kids who could use a bit of help reading aloud, and it’s not just a fun break from classroom routine… it works!

Kids who were once too shy or embarrassed about their skill level to read out loud are blossoming. They know that Ghost just wants to listen to a good story — no criticism, no corrections. It doesn’t take long for fear and anxiety to go out the window.

The idea is simple: it’s a privilege to read to a dog. Instead of reading aloud while focused on avoiding mistakes, they’re reading to an adoring, completely non-judgmental audience. Reading becomes a positive, rather than nerve-wracking experience; they gain confidence and an enjoyment in reading, which in turn improves comprehension and fluency. The dogs love it, too: it takes a special, gentle dog who doesn’t just tolerate, but truly enjoys children to thrive in this setting. And as a side-benefit, it also serves as a great opportunity to teach children another life-skill: how to behave safely and respectfully around dogs. Win-win!

Dogs are great listeners!

Dogs often make the best listeners!

Having kids read to pets to avoid anxiety and fear of judgment by adults or peers is not a new tactic — groups like R.E.A.D. and Reading with Rover have been around for years, but in case there are still any doubters out there, research is now demonstrating an improvement in reading fluency, showing that they’ve had the right idea all along.

The world of animal welfare can be such a battlefield at times, it would be a shame not to look up from the trenches from time to time to celebrate great ideas like this!

If I Ran the Dog Show…

At NAIA we believe that hands-on experience with animals is one of the greatest ways of fostering a child’s sense of responsibility and empathy, and of laying the groundwork for a realistic view of animals and our connection with them. Groups like 4-H have long provided youth with hands-on experience in areas such as agriculture — but when it comes to the world of purebred dogs and dog shows, there has been virtually no concerted effort to nudge forth the next generation.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t start now…

Great fun for a great cause. Click the image above to open it in PDF format and order your book(s) today!

You can order the books through our donation page or by clicking here.

Aug 8, 2012 - Human-Animal Bond    1 Comment

Olympic Gold and Going (Home) to the Dogs

Over the last few weeks, Gabby Douglas has won two gold medals, been immortalized on cereal boxes everywhere, and endured two losses as well as grotesque criticism of her patriotism and hair (don’t you people have anything better to do?). Lots of highs, a few lows — it’s been an eventful period of her life, to say the least.

So when it’s all over and done, when she’s finally free, what does she look forward to most? Does she wanna go to Disneyland?

No, actually she’s looking forward to spending time with her dogs.

Good answer, Gabby!


When you deal with issues surrounding animal care and husbandry as often as we do, discussions about animals inevitably revolve around what we do for them. We look after their health and feed them the best food we can afford. We provide them with shelter and safety. We tend to their physical and emotional comfort and even come up with creative ways of keeping them entertained (“intellectually stimulated” if you prefer sounding like an android).

We argue about it a lot, too.

But it’s all about what we can and should be doing for them, about finding ways of doing it better. And that’s a good thing — but an unexpected reminder of how much animals do for us, the joy they bring and how deeply important they are to people… well, that’s an awfully good thing, too.


After conquering the world at age 16, what more could a young woman possibly look forward to? Why, quality time with the pooches, of course.