April 2016

The children who were selected to read with the dogs couldn’t wait to read! these children are not aways self-motivated readers. Many avoid reading when asked to do so independently. With the R.E.A.D. program, children look forward to every minute of reading. They are motivated to read aloud for a purpose. Third graders used expression so they could “entertain” the dogs. Thank you! The kids can’t wait to see them every time!

Laurie Rice
Third Grade Teacher
Mayville Middle School
Mayville, WI

February 2016

“The R.E.A.D. program is a huge success in our school. We are an elementary school in East Harlem. Many of the students are very poor and many have emotional or learning disabilities. R.E.A.D. has been a great motivator for children with emotional regulation issues, a strong academic influence for children with learning disabilities, and also teaches humane treatment of animals as well as social skills. The children often ask when the therapy dogs are coming and get prepared by choosing a book to read to them as well as making positive behavioral choices to be a part of the program.”

Patricia Foley, LCSW
PS102 Jacques Cartier School
New York City, NY

June 2015

“Sometimes with the R.E.A.D. program the most impact on the young reader is not the reading. What have you seen that is most noteworthy about having the animals work with the children? The confidence level in the students! Reading with the dog is “safe” and the kids feel comfortable. I believe that they learn and retain the most when they feel safe and comfortable.  The pride that the students feel after reading is evident. Reading to the dogs allows the students confidence to grow. Students without pet have the opportunity to bond with the dogs and learn how to care for dogs in various situations.”

Kristie Gripentrog
Elementary Teach
Mayville, WI

June 2014

“The excitement on “Summerlee Days” is very noteworthy! The children count down the minutes until it’s time to read with her. Even children who are struggling readers feel very comfortable reading with Carol and Sumerlee. The extra practice gives them the confidence and motivation to read more.  It is the highlight of their week.”

R.E.A.D. Team Carol Vickers & Summerlee
Title 1 Teacher at Valley Elementary School
Smithers, WV

May 5, 2014

“I am so impressed with the R.E.A.D. program at our school in Boulder, Co. It has given the students such pride AND purpose with their reading and supports them emotionally in ways I could never imagine. There is always such excitement when it’s their day to read and they know the dogs are coming. Thank you to all of the volunteers (Susan, Sally, and MaryAnn) who take their time to make this happen and enrich the lives of children through dogs. Thanks to June, Gus, and Luna for letting the kids snuggle up and practice reading to you. You have made a “like” of reading to a “love” of it and created a lifelong lasting memory.”

Kimi Spielman Riter
Boulder, Colorado

March 4, 2014

I am writing to thank you for your wonderful R.E.A.D. program. My classroom was recently blessed to have Mrs. Jacquie St. John and her therapy dog, Hobie, in my classroom to read with my students. I teach in a multiple-disabled classroom, that until recently has been struggling with gaining interest in reading. That all changed when Hobie was first introduced to my classroom. Suddenly even students who were not reading previously were consumed with learning to read for Hobie. My staff and I were moved to tears as we watched the once unmotivated students ask for more time reading with Hobie. It is so wonderful to be a part of a program that brings joy as well as an educational foundation to the classroom. Thank you for designing this program!

Kaitlyn Mierzejewski
C. J. Davenport Elementary
Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

August 28, 2013

I teach at Edgewood Academy, which is a Title 1 school made up of 97 percent black and Hispanic students. The lowest 25 percent of the 4th and 5th graders at Edgewood are the students that I worked with. With the help of READing PAWS R.E.A.D. program (the ladies and the dogs), my students made the highest learning gains in the Lee County School District, which is comprised of 60 elementary schools. My students’ learning gains were the top 1percent in the entire state of Florida! This would not have been possible without the help and dedication of trained READing PAWS teams. I cannot say enough about their dedication and help. Thank you for this wonderful program and the impact it has on student lives.

Ann Kelly Schopmeyer
Edgewood Academy of the Arts
Ft. Myers, Florida

June 6, 2013

“My students read sooner than any group I’ve taught thus far, and they were excited and anxious to practice so they could read to Chelsea! They were extremely motivated to read more than just classroom work…they wanted to be awesome readers so they could read to Chelsea.”

R.E.A.D. Team Becky Lord and Chelsea
Kindergarten Teacher in Buffalo, TX

May 2013

This is my first year at my school, and at the beginning of the school year my students immediately asked me if Buddy was coming back. Obviously, it is a powerful program for these students. Erin cares so much about our students at USF/Patel, and shows it in many ways. Buddy will bring the students treats for various seasons, she has allowed each student to read with Buddy, and she is providing a pizza party for all students. My students so look forward to Friday so they can see Buddy! Thank you for all you do!

We LOVE Erin and Buddy.

R.E.A.D. Team Erin Ledenbach and Buddy
2nd Grade Teacher at USF/Patel Elementary
Tampa, FL

May 2013

A first grade teacher at one elementary school where I volunteer has a reading group of the children at that school who have the most trouble with reading, and that’s who we volunteer with. She told me that these children will practice extra hard all week so that they can do a good job when it’s their turn to read to my
dog, Lucky!

R.E.A.D. Team Kathryn Ozimek and Lucky
Silverdale, WA

May 2013

In 2011-2012, the R.E.A.D. program was started at Holston View. We began reading with eight 2nd grade students who were below grade level in their reading skills. By the end of their 2012-2013 school year, four of our eight R.E.A.D. students won schoolwide awards for the most Accelerated Reader points accumulated in the school year.

R.E.A.D. Team Kelli Eldridge & Daisy
Holston View Elementary in Bristol, TN

October 19, 2012

This is the first year our students have been participating in the R.E.A.D. program with therapy dogs. We are lucky to have our R.E.A.D. team visit our school on a weekly basis. I have been teaching for 13 years, and have never had an experience with a therapy dog so I was unsure of what to expect when the team came to work.

The R.E.A.D. team works with a student in my classroom who came from a different school due to the school closing. This student is quite bright academically, but just does not get excited about working and tends to blame not wanting to work on the fact that he is tired or he is hungry or he is bored. I felt like working with the R.E.A.D. team would be a good opportunity for this student academically, but most importantly, emotionally and in building his confidence. Little did I expect the outcomes I have seen!

The team has worked with this boy two times in the last two weeks, and I have noticed a VAST difference. The first week, I introduced him to the handler and his dog and they were off to work for 15 minutes. Upon returning to the classroom, my student was more alert, talked tons, and was so excited to work. I was shocked! This past week they came again to work. This time, I sent some more challenging reading, as well as spelling words to practice. When he returned to our classroom, we were working on writing, as well as I had an associate working with kids. I mentioned to her to watch the difference in this child. Prior to this day, asking this child to write was like “pulling teeth” – he was not motivated, said he was hungry, and flat-out did not want to write the one sentence expected of him. But this day after doing R.E.A.D. was totally different! He came in, sat down, and immediately began writing and participating. He was more alert. He wanted to know how to spell specific words. Most importantly, he was excited about learning! The associate working in my room at the time was shocked! She could not believe it either.

As I stated before, having never worked with a therapy dog, I was unsure of what results would be, but now I know – the results are AMAZING! This R.E.A.D. team, in the small time they have been in my classroom with this one student, has been making a huge difference! My student is so excited when they come – this is his time alone to share, read, and learn. Wow, the outcomes of working with a therapy dog like this one and his reading partner, I am astonished beyond belief and look forward to the rest of the year with this partnership! I hope more kids are able to have this experience!

2nd Grade Teacher
Elementary School

May 24, 2012

My name is Brooklyn. I am a teachers assistant at Canyon Rim Academy in Salt Lake City. Our special ed program has had the amazing opportunity to do an hour reading session every Friday with Patrice and Sid now for the past 3 years and we couldn’t be more grateful for their dedication to our students and our reading program. This therapy reading we have adapted into our program has been something each of our reading students eagerly awaits for EVERY week. I usually get a hard time from the kiddos when we need to opt out of a session during the year due to other events scheduled at our school– but it truly has been a HUGE confidence booster for the kids. It gets them excited about reading- and that is something we appreciate more than anything. We also were fortunate to incorporate Laura and Gabby into our Friday readings and the energy with the two of them boosts the positive energy and morale we love to have in our program. Both Laura and Patrice are so great at getting on a good one-on-one basis with the kids and having great interaction with them.. and I can tell that it makes them feel good-they get giggly and smile a TON! We are very appreciative of the Therapy Reading Program you guys offer and look forward to Patrice and Laura coming back to work with us next year and for years to come. They are doing wonderful things and I couldn’t imagine not being able to work with them. Again, thank you so much for allowing us to have them be apart of our “little world” and reading family!! We enjoy them more than they will ever fully know!

Brooklyn Croshaw
Special Ed. Teachers Assistant
Canyon Rim Academy Salt Lake City, UT

May 23, 2012

Connie and Blue Velvet worked with a total of three students this year. They would come in twice a week, spending one hour each time. They divided the hour and spent time with two students. I paired Connie with some rascally students. The students take two reading tests: the MAPS and the Dibels test. Neither of Connie’s boys scored near grade level on any test, but they both were already so far below grade level that it would have been extremely difficult for them to do so. Even being so low, though, they both made big improvements. Martin, a 3rd grader, improved by 17 points on his MAPS test. The expected growth for a 3rd grader is only about 9 points. He also doubled his Dibels score. At Dee we use the Guided Reading Level system. It’s a leveling system the rates the difficulty of a book so we can gradually give students more and more advanced reading material. In his time with Connie (starting in January) Martin improved by five reading levels, the equivalent of about an entire grade level. Brayan, a 5th grader, improved by 26 points on his MAPS test. The expected growth for 5th graders is only 5 points. He improved by 16 points on his Dibels. These boys usually feel like “the bad kids.” On one of the last days of working with Connie I walked Brayan back to class and he recalled when he had been working with a different tutor and the beginning of the year, but I had taken him out of tutoring because of his behavior. “I haven’t had one bad day with Miss Connie!” he said. I’m very grateful for the work she and Velvet have done at Dee.

Anna Pitcher
Reading Tutor
Dee Elementary School, Ogden, UT

May 17, 2012

I absolutely feel like READing Paws (an affiliate group of R.E.A.D.) is helping . . . kids can NEVER have too much practice and help . . . Braylyn, Logan, and Madison have improved so much with their Oral Reading Fluency, Accuracy, and Speed! MaRhonda hasn’t improved as much but unfortunately I think the lack of support (just during this last 3rd and 4th 9 weeks) from home has hurt her! All 4 students simply need someone to just “listen” to them, read, and help them with reading strategies. The fact is, they have all improved so much and Madison is my “most improved” student! I definitely want to continue READing Paws for as long as you want to do it with my class. Thank you so much for EVERYTHING you have done for my students this year! You are truly a blessing to me and these kids.

Alyson Biles
First Grade Teacher
Eastside Elementary School, Senoia, GA

Not only do we see improvement in reading in these students, we have seen a change in their demeanor–they seem more comfortable, more confident. These are children who have every intervention possible, for years! They know they are struggling readers, and the dogs and handlers build them back up.

Lisa Lambie, Principal
Los Robles Elementary School, Porterville, CA

After the first day reading with George, one of my struggling readers told me it was the best thing he has ever done at school.

Hannah Nielsen
K/1/2/3 Teacher
Vantage Point Charter School
Penn Valley, California

Pauline Gonzales, who now teaches second grade but was standards coach at the time, said that from the beginning the four children chosen to participate in the program saw reading in a different light. Their struggles with literacy turned into excitement about reading. Their teachers noticed an increase in their desire to read better, and their reading levels improved. Tipton even noticed some of the students helping one another.

Susan Stanton
News Writer
in The Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL

August 2010

I just wanted to thank you, Mary (Ehrhart), and your R.E.A.D. teams for working with our students at The Bodine School. As you know, our school specializes in the education of students with dyslexia and related learning disabilities. Positive activities such as Paws for Reading really make a difference in the success of our students. You and your R.E.A.D. teams have provided our students with a safe and nurturing environment to read which has been a tremendous help to them. Our students love reading to the dogs and are looking forward to reading with them again this fall. Once again, thank you for working with our students. I look forward to continuing to work with you and your R.E.A.D. teams this year.

Molly Cameron
LMSW, Program Director
The Bodine School, Germantown, TN

June 7, 2010

We would like to extend our thanks and applause for the R.E.A.D. program that Patrice Mealey and her dog Sid gave to our students this past school year. Patrice and Sid came weekly from November to May to work with nine of our struggline readers in our Title I program. These boys and girls were all first graders who were far behind in reading, and for some English is their second language. They had tutors daily, but the highlight of their week was on Wednesdays when Sid came to read. Each student spent individual time reading with Sid, playing word games and working on sounds of letters. Patric brought dog treats in the shape of letters and the students would pick a letter, say the sound and then reward Sid. At the end of the year we had a Dog Party and the students had their photos taken with Sid and made a book called “Sid the Reading Dog. “Patrice and Sid showed love and concern for our students and gave them an incentive to be at school and work on reading. The impact of the dog was most evident with our most challenged reader. This child became more confident and much more vocal and receptive to tutoring with the help of Sid. Sid was certainly non-judgmental and loved the children, and they love him back. Sometimes he put his paw on the page and the children were convinced he really could read. Perhaps he couldn’t read, but he “read” the students and knew they needed support. Thank you for providing this program of pets helping people.

Wendy Linares, Title I Facilitator
Jan C. Smith, Title I Teacher
Copperview Elementary, Midvale, Utah

October 19, 2009

These therapy dogs can do in one R.E.A.D. session what a human might not accomplish in months. I encourage you to give it a try–you’ll be surprised at the effects.

Melody Lenkner
Southern Idaho Learning Center
Twin Falls, Idaho

June 1, 2009

One cannot measure the amount of joy and encouragement that the R.E.A.D. Program has brought to the special education program at Parley’s Park. I can only hope that the smiles and hugs your teams receive in return are enough to repay our debt of gratitude. Books and money cannot replace what you have given to us, because it is a gift from the heart. Thanks to the R.E.A.D. Program for all they do to touch the heart of a child!

Margie Stafford, Teacher
Parley’s Park Elementary, Park City, Utah

June 1, 2009

The students are so excited about working with the animals. This makes school a safer, more enjoyable place to be, and their enthusiasm has carried over into their classroom. The children are benefitting from the one-on-one tutoring, where reading strategies are discussed and practiced, and the love of reading is instilled while learning respect for animals. We so enjoy the R.E.A.D. program-it comes from the heart!

Carol Jett, Reading Specialist
Los Robles Elementary, Porterville, California

May 29, 2009

Bluffdale Elementary has been participating in the R.E.A.D. program for the last couple of years. Our teachers really appreciate having someone come in and give those struggling students something “extra special” to look forward to, and also to provide them with individual attention while they read. We have had a number of children improve in their reading skills and also self-confidence. One child in particular finished reading his 60th book this year, which is quite an accomplishment considering he didn’t even want to participate in the program at the beginning of the year. As the Literacy Facilitator in our school, I have noticed test scores, self-confidence and love for reading all improve with the children who have been able to participate in R.E.A.D. We feel very lucky to have had the program at our school, and greatly appreciate the time Ann Coleman and Buck have freely given.

Sheryl Mitchell, Literacy Facilitator
Bluffdale Elementary (Jordan District), Bluffdale (Salt Lake City), Utah

June 10, 2005

During this school year, I was very fortunate to have been involved with the R.E.A.D. program. Chantal Moore visited our cycle one, year one classroom every week with Chelsea, her energetic and very friendly companion. Two students from my classroom were selected for the program. These two students experience difficulty with reading and also with positive peer interactions. The R.E.A.D. program was an ideal way for both students to experience success in a social and academic atmosphere. Chantal informed herself of the academic and social needs of each student and was very open to all of my suggestions. The students were excited to share what they can do with Chelsea. Chelsea sat and listened attentively to each child read and work through language activities. She even gave positive reinforcement (a bark) when the students did very well! Chantal was also very willing to come and talk with my whole class about social problems or situations that Chelsea had encountered with other dogs. The students could relate to the problems and give suggestions on how Chelsea could resolve her social problems. This often gave me, as a teacher, the opportunity to discuss conflict resolution strategies with the students. All in all, I strongly support the R.E.A.D. program. It was a rewarding experience for the two students who were involved, as well as the whole class, who came to think of Chelsea and Chantal as their friends too. The R.E.A.D. program had a positive influence on the students’ self-confidence and motivation. Good luck in continuing and hopefully expanding the program!

Lisa Falasconi
Cycle 1 Year 1 Teacher
Lord Aylmer School, Gatineau, Quebec, CANADA

Christian has had a very positive experience with Merlin. He looks forward to reading with him, and reads well, stroking him the whole time. He is relaxed and focused while with him. This program is a fantastic opportunity for Christian to open up and be comfortable reading aloud. Makenzie truly enjoys reading aloud with Merlin. She is very affectionate with him, giving him many hugs. She gets very excited and reads well to him (with him on her lap)! She is able to focus, and her fluency has greatly improved this year.

Mrs. Esteves, Special Ed Teacher
Gildersleeve School
Portland, CT

Kyle truly enjoyed his time spent with Merlin. He looked forward to reading with them on Friday mornings ALL week. He carefully chose the books he would read and happily shared details from the book after his session. Ms. Petrone and Merlin certainly got Kyle excited about reading!

Mrs. Binnington, Special Ed Teacher
Gildersleeve School
Portland, CT

Daniel returned from reading to Merlin with excitement and a very positive attitude. He also leaves the classroom that way–looking forward to his time with Merlin. Dan’s reading progress has indeed soared this year, and I believe it may be due to his reading to this unconditional, loyal, non-judgmental friend!

Mrs. Cox, Special Ed Teacher
Gildersleeve School
Portland, CT

I have to once again thank you for the gift you are giving to the El Marino children and their families. Tonight as I was taking down the posters, a girl from the weekly program and her dad were looking at the pictures of the animals. I had never met the dad before. He looked at me and said, “She reads to them every week. I never thought it would work! I don’t know HOW it works, but it does!”Are noticing a difference?” I asked.”She was never interested in reading before. Never. And now she is! I can’t get over it!” This dad was so excited – pretty much floating on air. And I don’t know that he could have had a bigger smile on his face. And so, on behalf of this dad and many others, I send you all a million thanks. May your generosity and gifts come back to you many times over. Oreo brings a unique tail to the mix. He sits in a basket and listens-without judgement-to the stories being read to him. The patience Marcy displays when attempting to leave-always willing to stop for one more say hello or goodbye to Oreo. Perhaps it’s as simple as my daughter put it, “I like talking to bunnies and I felt happy when I read to Oreo.” (This from a child who used to hate to read!) Whatever the reason, the magic is there; the magic is endless. I have high regard for this magical Pet Partner team.


Ruby Keefe
El Marino Language School
R.E.A.D. Program Coordinator

June 3, 2003

It’s an activity that the kids not only eagerly anticipate but has also benefited the students’ reading and confidence levels. It makes them so eager to read. Whiskey gives them a chance to read to someone
who cares.

Susan Tabke, Teacher
McPolin Elementary School, Park City, UT

June 3, 2003

It is exciting to see their love for wanting to read to Whiskey. We have a few students who don’t love to read and they still get excited to read to Whiskey.

Debbie Mollus
Classroom aide in Susan Tabke’s class
McPolin Elementary, Park City, Utah

April 26, 2002

Never in my life have I witnessed such a wonderful, interactive program that allows students a diversion in everyday learning without having to give up the actual learning.

Katie Tretiak, teacher
Kansas City, MO

I don’t have test scores but I do have this: In January and in May we give the students one minute to see how many words they can read correctly from a passage. Mallory went from 13 (January) to 47 (May), and Zakary went from 29 to 64!

Vicki Wildman, 1st Grade Teacher
Brookridge Elementary, Shawnee Mission, KS

I just wanted to let you know how thrilled my students and I were to have you and Buddy come visit us again this year. As you know, as an English as a Second Language teacher I often have the same students for several grades and it was so much fun to listen to my second graders who visited with you and Buddy last year tell my disbelieving first graders about Buddy the dog who can read. I’m glad they got the chance to see Buddy for themselves! I also wanted to let you know that I am just in awe of what you and Buddy and other R.E.A.D. volunteers have the potential to accomplish with students who are struggling readers. Of course as an E.S.L. teacher I think especially of my little group of English language learners and I think of the several different levels that they are touched by your visits. First of all, since most of my students come from homes where no English is spoken at all they face the challenge of coming to school every morning just trying to learn to communicate in their adopted language. It is amazing how one look at Buddy can tear down the scariest of barriers in the most timid, non-English speaking student. Doggies are a universal love and I can see that in the eyes of my boys and girls when they first see Buddy. And since the boys and girls are for a short time unafraid and comfortable they can open up and communicate about what you and Buddy are doing…reading! What a motivator! Secondly, these students tend to come from low socio-economic homes where both parents work full time in order to provide for their children. There is often not enough time or money left to spare to encourage and motivate young readers or indulge them with books to read. This makes the gift of the coloring books from you and Buddy especially important because for some of my students it may literally be the only book they personally own. Many of the boys and girls came to school the day after you visited only to tell me that they had read and colored most of the book that very night! Finally, I have seen your visits touch my students in another exceptional way. Several of my boys, like many children today, tend toward at least some aggressive and sometimes violent behavior. However, when these same boys dealt with Buddy all I heard was how awesome he was and how much they wished they could have a dog like Buddy to take care of and befriend. Wow! A free book, a reading lesson and a lesson in compassion all in one sitting, what a concept! That is what you and Buddy have taught us that R.E.A.D. volunteers can do in a school setting. Not to mention the fact that my students, like all children today, often desperately need a little unconditional acceptance and a few free hugs. Nothing warms a little body and mind more than to know that he or she is loved and cared about by someone. That is what you and Buddy bring to our little class and what I imagine all R.E.A.D. volunteers bring to the students they visit. Thank you for blessing our class with all of these gifts. We can’t thank you enough and we would do anything we could to make these special visits available to more students. Please come see us again soon!

Shawn Silva, E.S.L. Teacher
Jefferson Elementary, Jerome, Idaho

2001 (no date)

The R.E.A.D. program at Bennion Elementary has played an effective role in participants’ improved reading ability and appreciation, as well as social behavior. The effect that these dogs, and their partners, have on these challenged children is as immediate as it is hard to describe. One child who spent most of his days giving resource and homeroom teachers the runaround could always be found first in line to read to his favorite dogs. The dogs bring a wonderful combination of kindness, curiosity, and patience to the task of reading. The children seem to respond in kind and learn to practice beneficial behavior patterns, supporting not only reading skills, but also broader study habits and interpersonal communication skills. The high quality of the books and attention provided by the R.E.A.D. program is unique to some of these children’s lives. You can teach reading skills scratching through variously contrived ‘readers’ in a crowded classroom. The dogs not only reinforce these skills, but also lead students towards an understanding of the purpose and potential of reading. Risking reading out loud and communicating ideas seems to come easier under the patient tutelage of a furry friend and his/her trusted companion. Transcending the rigors of skills acquisition, the dogs’ love and approval is always present. In an age when hugs are legally prohibited, the comforting affection shared with the dogs brings a more authentic child to the shared reading activity. Resistance subsides and confidence and courage emerge in a literary environment full of trust and inquiry. It is difficult to quantify the effects of this program given its integration into the larger school environment, but I have seen tests scores improve with this program, as well as more confident and sociable behavior by participants. Learning not only skills, but that reading and sharing can be fun, is a tremendous gift. Through the week teachers and I spend varying amounts of time motivating these children to read, but on Wednesdays I get to see them at their best, when they are self-motivated and enjoying reading and discussing quality books. I only wish that we had enough dogs and trainers to accommodate all of the children that ask me throughout the week if they too can “read to the dogs.”

Lance Alan Girton, Reading Specialist
Bennion Elementary School, Salt Lake City, Utah