Book with your local Story Dog

Harini reads to her new best friend Dashi at the Dickson Library.

A Libraries ACT program brought together Franklin Elementary School student Harini’s two favorite things: reading and dogs.

This is part of the national Story Dog initiative which creates a fun and supportive learning environment in which young students practice their reading with dogs.

While it was only Harini’s first time reading to a local whippet called Dashi, it didn’t take long for the two to form a special bond.

“I love it,” Harini said. “He is very nice and funny. He likes it when I read to him and lies on my lap.

“I like to read because you can go on an adventure in your mind. It’s great to be able to practice my reading with Dashi.

Story Dog volunteer dog Dashi standing on a couch at the Dickson Library

Pictured: Dashi prepares for her next reading adventure.

Dashi’s owner, Robyn, said her love for the volunteer-run Story Dog program was two-fold.

“I’ve seen kids go from being basic readers and hating it, to reading chapter books and loving it – the transformation can be amazing,” Robyn said.

“I’ve also seen children whose dogs grow up to trust dogs when they were previously very apprehensive.”

Robyn says the success of the Story Dog program is because dogs are such good listeners.

“A lot of kids have their reading constantly corrected by their teachers or their parents,” Robyn said. “What dogs do is listen without judgment, and that helps children gain confidence.

Harini’s father, Ganeshan, encourages other parents to consider the Story Dog program.

“Harini has understood this very well and, although she is already an excellent reader, this is another opportunity for her to improve,” Ganeshan said.

“I encourage other parents to give their kids a chance to get along and try it out – they might really enjoy it too.”

The Story Dog program takes place at the Dickson, Belconnen and Woden libraries, with reservations and more information available online.

Visit the Story Dog website to learn more about the national program and how to volunteer.

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