Allan’s Angels reading dogs come to Somers Library

By Lisa Stone
Somers - posted Wed., Oct. 23, 2013
Six year old, Ryan Nero, reads to Cooper. Photo by Lisa Stone.
Six year old, Ryan Nero, reads to Cooper. Photo by Lisa Stone.

Somers Library offered a dog friendly atmosphere for children to come and read to Allan’s Angels dogs on Oct. 19. The mood was relaxed and the room was quiet. The dogs and the children both seemed to enjoy the time spent together.
The program called Allan’s Angels Reading Dogs is designed to allow children to improve their reading skills while being free from judgment. Oftentimes a reader will become on guard and nervous when reading in front of other people. This starts in the developmental stages and carries on through our adult years. When a child reads to one of the dogs, he or she is relaxed, and that is ideal for promoting reading skills.

For a dog to become one of the reading dogs, it needs to be trained to be around little kids and not react to noises and quick movements. “I had to take my dog, Sailor, to a 12-week course in order for him to be certified for the program,” said Denise Bolduc. “The dogs are trained to stay calm, be patient with kids and be of good temperament,” she explained. “Sailor is a Pug. That breed is good with people. Sailor can be stubborn, but he loves children. He just sits there and looks at the kids when they read to him. This is a very wonderful program and I am extremely proud to be a part of it,” she said.

Nancy Benway brought her 6-year-old German shepherd, Cooper, to the library. “Studies have proven that petting a dog can lower your blood pressure,” said Benway. “Children who have petted dogs before a test have shown improved test scores. I brought Cooper to the University of Connecticut during finals week. The students all expressed that they felt more relaxed going into the test than they were before petting the dog,” said Benway. “The students really appreciate being able to spend time with the dogs.”

Benway said she also  brings Cooper to Saint Francis Hospital to visit the children. “The hospital is really great with encouraging the kids to interact with the dogs. We have had great feedback. That is very rewarding to hear,” she said.

Six-year-old Ryan Nero, of Somers, had just finished a soccer practice. “Ryan is in the first grade,” said his father, Michael. “He likes dogs and he is just learning how to read. I figured this would be a great program for him. This library does a great job with programs for the kids.”

Benway said she believes that dogs will pick what they like to do. Some dogs like to be around kids, so the organization encourages the owners of such dogs to become a part of this rewarding program.


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