Animal Rights

Read and Write…and Pat Class!

A dog called Archie is helping school kids learn to read and write.

The four-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel helps kids learn because they enjoy reading to him.

Many of the youngsters like to read their stories to the pooch while comforting him with a pat – and it is improving their skills.

Four-year-old Archie works in the Story Dogs program, a non-profit organization that helps children to improve their literacy skills across Australia.

The furry friend, who once a week is dressed in his extra-small orange uniform, attends Ambrose Treacy College in Brisbane, Australia and is said to love all sort of books.

Fergus O’Connor, one of the boys Archie sits with, said: “It’s just easier for us to learn. Because I’ve got dyslexia it’s a lot harder, but when he’s here it’s easier because I have someone to read to.

“It’s just knowing that he’s here for me as someone to read to, and it’s more fun for us to read and makes us more want to read.”

“Archie just likes to read any book as long as he’s interested in it and, so long as he’s interested in it, he’ll like it.

“Sometimes he lies on your lap and tilts up his head, and sometimes he sits next to you and tries to look like he’s reading.”

Archie’s owner Ms. Madigan said that she trained her dog through the Story Dogs organization and, after a vet check-up, he was given go ahead to participate in the reading sessions at Ambrose Treacy College.

She said her pet is not just good at helping kids read to him but also helps with their writing too.

She said: “The kids have written lots of stories about him. We’re writing narratives in Year Five and he’s a really good stimulus for them.

“All the adventures Archie’s been on in the stories – we’ve had Archie flying; we’ve had him eat lots of things in the school.

“The boys understand that he’s not there to judge, he’s not there to criticize, he’s just there to be a companion – just to let them read, or read to him, or write about him and read that to him.

“It’s really nice when the kids read to Archie because they do the read-and-pat.”

Another young pupil added: “Archie loves hugs. I used to have a pug, but he died.

“I miss him, so that’s why I like to hug Archie a lot because it reminds me of him.

“Sometimes before I go out to lunch I like to give him a hug goodbye.

Archie is one out of many dogs that work in the Story Dogs program, which runs on a system of sponsorship.

Story Dogs has been running since 2009 and is available to all primary schools in Australia.


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