weather icon Cloudy

Kids participate in ‘Reading to Dogs’ event at Animal Foundation — VIDEO

Updated March 1, 2017 - 7:22 pm

The Animal Foundation dogs didn’t have to speak or fetch or roll over for their audience Wednesday. They needed only to listen quietly and maybe wag their tails as first-graders read stories aloud.

The children were visiting as part of Reading to Dogs, a program in its second year that promotes reading in a nonthreatening environment. It came during Nevada Reading Week.

About 80 students from Sewell and Ronnow elementary schools filed excitedly into the Animal Foundation’s adoption kennels to participate in the program, sponsored by WGU Nevada, the Animal Foundation and DC Building Group.

While some sat at tables and colored pictures of animals, others braided cloth strips together to make toys. Another group pulled up chairs inside the kennel to read to their furry friends.

Spencer Stewart, chancellor of WGU Nevada, an online nonprofit university, conceptualized the event after hearing about similar ones across the country.

“Research indicates that, if a student is not able to read at grade level, they fall behind,” Stewart said.

But getting students to read well at a young age is sometimes hindered by shyness or fear of judgment from peers. Stewart said it can be easier to read in front of a nonhuman subject.

“When it comes to, perhaps, an animal, there seems to be a higher level of comfort with these students,” he said.


Sheri Cahoon, a Ronnow teacher, thought the program was great for both humans and nonhumans.

“I think they feel like they’re really contributing to the dogs,” she said. “(The dogs) will calm down and listen.”

Shawn Danoski, DC Building Group’s founder and CEO, said he enjoyed attending and speaking at the event.

“I was surprised at the excitement of the kids, the engagement of the kids,” Danoski said. “I was like, ‘Who’s gonna go first?’ and they wanted to fight for it!”

Contact Brooke Wanser at bwanser@reviewjournal.com. Follow @Bwanser_LVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.