Chimacum Heritage Newsletter
The Heritage Newsletter is published by Chimacum High School students three times per year, Fall, Winter, and Spring. Each article showcases farms in the Chimacum and greater area.
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Chimacum Schools Matter ~ District Newsletters by Sandy Hershelman
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Port Ludlow Voice
READ to ROVER
by Barbara Berthiaume, Contributing Writer
Kids, dogs, and a good book are a great combination according to researchers in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California in Davis. “The dogs, in contrast to a human, don’t judge the individual, aren’t grading the individual and hopefully that allows the children to build some confidence in their reading skills,” said Martin Smith, a veterinary school science educator and lead researcher on the study. It has been recognized anecdotally that children become better readers when they regularly read aloud to dogs, and many animal organizations and libraries around the country have developed reading programs that pair up kids and dogs. One such program is Reading with Rover, based in Redmond, Wa. that started out as a community-based volunteer literacy program in the schools, bookstores and libraries of Puget Sound area of Washington State. Our own local program is READ to ROVER serving 3 school districts in western Jefferson County. It is affiliated with a local non-profit organization, the Olympic Mountain Pet Pals, (ompetpals.org).
Kim Pratt and Carla Ellis collaborated to start the READ to ROVER program at the Chimacum Creek Primary School ten years ago and there are now 16 volunteers who faithfully bring their dogs each Friday so first and second graders can read with Rover. Carla coordinates all of the volunteer schedules while Kim supervises the program in the school.
All dogs are evaluated and tested for temperament and disposition by Georgia Towle, owner of the Lucky Dog Training Center. Dogs who pass the evaluation, which is an extended form of the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen test, are considered therapy dogs. These dogs and their handlers are trained and tested to partner with agencies such as schools and work with specific populations to provide support. Therapy dogs differ from service dogs as service dogs have legal rights in public places and are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Volunteers don red t-shirts identifying them as part of the READ to ROVER Program. Many report that their dogs get so excited as they know they are going to school and be with kids. Students rotate every 15 minutes and have the undivided attention of Rover. Many students develop relationships with dogs and their owners and volunteers note that they are amazed at the acceleration of reading skills over a year.
Students are trained how to interact with the dogs, how to feed them treats, and learn dog etiquette as well. Cost of the program includes back supported chairs for volunteers; t-shirts for the kids, dog treats and related supplies come from community businesses, local realtors, and the Friends of Chimacum Foundation. If anyone is interested in knowing more about this program, contact Carla Ellis at (360) 385-3950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.