‘Book Buddies’ Program Brings Dogs To Columbus Classroom

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A two-year-old lab collie mix went to kindergarten Tuesday at Oak Creek Elementary School.

Every Tuesday, the Delaware County Animal Shelter brings a dog to Tiffany Clark’s kindergarten classroom for reading time.

It's part of the "Book Buddies" program, where one student at a time reads to the dog while the others keep her calm.

It’s not all tail waggin' and brushing hair, though.

Clark said she’s seen an academic improvement since the dogs first came into the classroom a year ago.

"Some kiddos are a little apprehensive about reading. They just struggle a little bit more, and just sitting and reading with the dog, that fear kind of goes away," Clark said.

Many of the five- to six-year-old children used to shy away from dogs, but after starting Book Buddies, they can hardly wait for Tuesdays.

Jane Hock, the volunteer for the animal shelter who participates in Book Buddies said, "It’s just a wonderful feeling when you see a child off to the side and they’re watching and they’re watching and they work up that nerve to come over and kind of reach out and tentatively give a little pet."

The students aren’t the only ones learning. Hock said most of the dogs who are put through the program are eventually adopted.

"I think this helps them to get socialized a bit," Hock said.

Caleigh Bourgeois is a fellow in Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau. Follow her on Twitter @caleighreports.