Listening Tails (LT) is a program designed to help young children improve their reading skills and confidence in reading out loud by reading to therapy dogs. The children read for 15-20 minutes once a week for six weeks in a relaxed environment. At all times, the dogs are on leash and supervised by their handler. In terms of reading material, children have the option of either bringing their own book(s) or they can borrow a book(s) from the Chestermere Public Library for the duration of their reading session. Parents (or guardians) are not in the same room as their children during the reading sessions but they are able, if they so desire, to observe their children through the meeting room window. To help create a relaxed environment, both the dogs and children are given cushions to sit on, with the handlers seated on a chair, leash length away from their dogs.
The success of the program stems from the fact that dogs love the attention they receive by children reading to them and are non-judgemental listeners. As a guideline only, the program is aimed generally at children in grades one through three but no child will be denied the opportunity to participate in the program. LT is provided free to participants but donations are gratefully received to help defray the costs of running the program.
For more information visit the Community Therapy Dogs website.