How do you calm an excited, barking dog confined to a kennel at the Aiken County Animal Shelter? The solution is really simple. Ask a group of children to come and read to them. FOTAS (Friends of the Animal Shelter) came up with this idea a few years ago in conjunction with the Aiken County Public Library to create the Dog Ear Reading Program. This program is also part of the Junior FOTAS awareness program, which teaches responsible pets. It’s a win-win for both four-legged and two-legged participants.
Want to know how it’s done? Walk with me in the kennel group of 10 very excited dogs. They all watch me lay out blankets for their guests to sit on when they arrive. Dogs are curious about what I do. Soon, 10 eager boys and girls arrive with book bags full of reading materials.
When the children and their parents enter the pod, there is a lot of barking and excitement as everyone takes their places in front of a dog. The children pull out their books and begin to read as volunteers and parents watch the scene unfold before their eyes. Suddenly, a silence settles and we realize that the dogs listen to the children who read to them.
Jasmine, the cute black Lab mix, leans against the kennel door so she can get as close as possible to Susie who is reading her a book called “Sit, Stay, Love”. Paco, a handsome black and white terrier mix, lies on his pallet covered in blankets with his bone on and appears to be falling asleep as Kevin reads a book called ‘Saving Sadie’. The connection between children and dogs is truly magical. There is no other way to explain this phenomenon.
This reading program is just one of the ways FOTAS works with the Aiken County Animal Shelter to promote the welfare of animals who find themselves in a shelter atmosphere through no fault of their own. Efforts like this help reduce the stress of shelter life for these animals. By offering programs like this, our goal is to place all the adoptable animals we can by exposing them to the community.
Their lives are in our hands.