Happy Tails/ READing Paws event at Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Buckhead location. Event Date: January 9, 2016. (Photo: Alicia Buster/Full Sail University)
Happy Tails/ READing Paws event at Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Buckhead location. Event Date: January 9, 2016. (Photo: Alicia Buster/Full Sail University)

The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library hosted its monthly Happy Tails/READing Paws event at its Buckhead location on January 9, 2016. Happy Tails is a non-profit organization that provides animal therapy to people with, “physical, social, emotional and cognitive needs at healthcare facilities, social agencies and special needs programs throughout the metro Atlanta community.” Volunteers offer the company of their beloved pets to promote healing. Happy Tails has partnered with READing Paws, a non-profit organization whose mission is, “to improve the literacy skills of children.” READing Paws is an affiliate of R.E.A.D (Reading Education Assistance Dogs), an organization that helps children Improve communication and reading skills through the use of therapy dogs.

Therapy dog, Sedona, and owner, Cathy Maher, preparing for their first Happy Tails/ READing paws reading session at the Atlanta Fulton Library, Bulkhead location. (Photo: Alicia Buster/Full Sail University)
Therapy dog, Sedona, and owner, Cathy Maher, preparing for their first Happy  paws reading session at the Atlanta Fulton Library, Buckhead location. (Photo: Alicia Buster/Full Sail University)

The Happy Tails/READing Paws event offers 15 minute appointment windows for children to read to a therapy animal. Children at the Buckhead location have the opportunity to read to  Sedona, a 14-year-old Golden Retriever. She is well-trained, like all R.E.A.D animals. She has  been a therapy dog for 8 years. Sedona listens intently to her readers while her owner, Cathy Maher, engages the children with questions on difficult words and plot explanations. This type of interaction allows the children to relax and feel safe when reading, free from pressure or anxiety.

Onamika Dey, 9 years old, reading a chapter to book to therapy dog, Sedona, at the Happy Tails/READing Paws event, hosted by the Atlanta Public Library, Bulkhead location. (Photo: Alicia Buster/Full Sail University)
Onamika Dey, 9 years old, reading a chapter to book to therapy dog, Sedona, at the Happy Tails/READing Paws event, hosted by the Atlanta Public Library, Buckhead location. (Photo: Alicia Buster/Full Sail University)
Naj Nalik, 9 years old, reading his second book to Sedona during his therapy session while Sedona's owner, Cathy Maher looks on. (Photo: Alicia Buster/Full Sail University)
Naj Nalik, 9 years old, reading his second book to Sedona during his therapy session while Sedona’s owner, Cathy Maher, looks on. (Photo: Alicia Buster/Full Sail University)
Nilesh Nalik, 11 years old, brushing Sedona after his therapy session while learning about Sedona's life. (Photo: Alicia Buster/Full Sail University)
Nilesh Nalik, 11 years old, brushing Sedona during his therapy session while learning about Sedona’s life. (Photo: Alicia Buster/Full Sail University)

Therapy animals have proven to be a great way to encourage reading. Their presence helps to reduce stress and creates a safe environment that  allows readers to build self-confidence. The more children are exposed to therapy with animals the more exciting reading becomes.

 

 

 

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