Children read books to shy abandoned dogs to get them out of their shells and it works wonders for both!

By Sai
February 25, 2017Stories
Children read books to shy abandoned dogs to get them out of their shells and it works wonders for both!

In an inspiring shelter program for stray animals, children are getting trained to read to shy dogs to help the poor rescued animals to come out of their fears and anxieties.

Knowing that children have an instinctive urge to provide love and care to animals, but cannot always adopt the animals — the Shelter Buddies Reading Program run by the Humane Society of Missouri has put together the needs of both, the children and the abandoned dogs; where one happily provides and the other gratefully receives. What a great idea!

Children have an instinctive quality, just like animals, when it comes to understanding the feelings of others. Children also have a very close connection with animals and are, most times very keen to take home a pet. But it is not always possible for all families to adopt a pet. So the shelter thought of the next best thing, providing the children time to interact with the dogs, and in turn, help the dogs learn to trust and love humans once again.

This surprisingly marvelous idea is already showing its effect and making a huge difference to the abandoned animals.

The simple idea involves training the kids to read to dogs, just as they would in their homes, to their own pets. This, in turn, also fills the child with a greater sense of empathy towards other living creatures.


“We wanted to help our shy and fearful dogs without forcing physical interaction with them to see the positive effect that could have on them,” program director Jo Klepacki told The Dodo. “We launched the program last Christmas, but now we offer it once a month.”

Children aged between 6 and 15 are encouraged to sign up online for the program. Once selected, they are trained on how to read a dog’s body language, and to understand if they are anxious. Such stressed out pets, said Klepacki, are the ones most in need of special care and attention.


After the training, the young volunteers sit in front of a shy dog’s kennel with a book and read to them — a simple act on the part of the children that can help change the dog’s and the child’s life.

“Ideally that shy and fearful dog will approach and show interest. If so, the kids reinforce that behavior by tossing them a treat,” said Klepacki.

“What this is also doing is to bring the animals to the front in case potential adopters come through. They are more likely to get adopted if they are approaching and interacting, rather than hiding in the back or cowering.”


It is not just the timid dogs that benefit from this interactive program. High-energy dogs, too, have shown improvements from being read to, and helped them to calm down.

“Hearing a child reading can really calm those animals,” Klepacki said. “It is incredible, the response we’ve seen in these dogs.”

The child is put through a 10 hour training program, learning to understand how to work with the animals under supervision. They can then come back with their parents, any time, to sit and read to the dogs.


While their reading skills improve, and is beneficial to them as students, they also get something extremely more precious and important out of it.

“It’s encouraging children to develop empathy with animals. It’s a peaceful, quiet exercise. They’re seeing fearfulness in these animals, and seeing the positive affect they can have,” said Klepacki.

“It encourages them to look at things from an animal’s perspective. That helps them better connect with animals and people in their lives.”


This reading program is recently launched, but the impact has been great already. Klepacki said it’s been successful in helping dogs find forever homes.

Finding kid volunteers for the reading program is absolutely no problem, as most kids in the area are enthusiastically signing up for the program.

If this program keeps up the way it is doing, Klepacki hopes to reach this reading program to all of the Humane Society of Missouri’s shelters — and to cats as well.

“I’m really excited about this program,” she said.

At times we forget that animals have lives too and that they need recognition just like we do in our lives. When the society comes together with empathy in their hearts, all is well!

This story is sourced from The Dodo.

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