Culture

People Are In Love With Percy, The Therapy Dog Who Helps Kids Learn How To Read

Not to be dramatic, but I will die for Percy.

library dog helps kids read

This week, photos of a dog attentively listening to a child read went viral on Twitter.

The super popular dog rating profile, We Rate Dogs, shared a photo of Percy, the golden retriever, reading with children at the Toronto Public Library.

“This is Percy. He helps kids build their confidence by letting them read to him,” We Rate Dogs tweeted. “He also loves the stories so it’s a win-win. 14/10”

Percy is one of many dogs who are part of Toronto Public Library’s Paws 4 Stories program. According to the library group, Paws 4 Stories “helps kids improve their reading skills by reading to a therapy dog”.

At varied locations across Toronto, a group of St John Ambulance therapy dogs visit children aged five and above for the program. Beyond Percy, Tucker and Troy also closely listen to kids as they take turns telling the dogs stories. Each dog is accompanied by a handler and partake in the Paws program throughout the year.

After photos of Percy made their way online, people expressed their admiration for the golden retriever and for the program. While any animal can be read to, most were just impressed by Percy actually looking interested in the stories being told, which would be great for the kids and their confidence levels. But Percy’s attentiveness makes sense, because apparently the pictures are Percy’s favourite part of books.

St John Ambulance claim that the program has been successful and has drastically improved youth reading skills. “We’ve seen children go from stuttering and unable to read a sentence to reading whole chapters in the space of six months,” they shared.

And to make your heart swell even more, St John Ambulance don’t only bring therapy dogs to children. The group also visits hospitals and nursing homes across Toronto to act as a dose of “stress and anxiety relief” for the elderly patients. This is because therapy dogs are trained to be patient, passive and stable, making them the perfect companions for the old and young.

https://youtu.be/Ty2rUfdwdWE 

Luckily, similar programs also exist in Australia, with Story Dogs visiting over 230 primary schools a week. Then in Queensland, the SHARE Reading Dogs Program, run by Animal Welfare League Qld, also offer dog story initiatives in the Sunshine state.

Junkee has reached out to Toronto Public Library to learn more about Percy and Paws 4 Stories.