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Many people identify themselves as animal lovers, and some actively help taking care of animals in need.
However, one animal shelter in Missouri took it up a notch and developed a very interesting program that aims to make shelter dogs more desirable!
The program is called Shelter Buddies Reading Program, and with it, shelter dogs in the Humane Society of Missouri are getting a very special treatment. They listen to stories which are read by kids!
The advantages go both ways, the kids are taught to be more empathetic towards animals while the animals are getting a glimpse of how it is to live in a home.
This approach helps the dogs quite a lot, especially the shy and fearful ones, because there is no physical interaction involved.
As for the kids, anyone from the age of 6 to 15 can sign up online to be a part of this program. After signing up, the participants are taught to read a dog’s body language, learning whether a dog is worried or scared. These dogs are the ones that need the most attention, according to the program director.
As for the program itself, it works in an incredibly simple way. All kids sit down in front of a shelter dog’s kennel and start reading to them. Even though this gesture might not seem like much, it truly helps the dogs. If shy dogs show interest in the reading, and start approaching, they are given a treat to encourage that behavior.
This way, if a potential adopter comes through, the dogs are interested in the people. If a dog is sitting in the back and cowering, it is not very appealing to the adopter and it lowers the chances of the dog getting adopted! However, the shy dogs aren’t the only ones that benefit greatly from the reading.
Highly energetic dogs have benefits from the reading as well. Unlike the shy dogs, which are taught to be more approaching, the energetic dogs are taught to be calmer. Unlike shy dogs, which are unappealing when they are sitting in the back of their kennel, energetic dogs are unappealing by being way too reckless. The reading teaches them to have a calmer demeanor, which in turn raises their chances of getting adopted. According to the program director, hearing a child reading really calms the dogs.
Nevertheless, the animals aren’t the only ones that are taught a valuable lesson. Kids participating in in the program benefit from it as well. Like we previously mentioned, they are learning about empathy. By seeing how much they can help a dog just by reading to them, it helps them better understand and connect with the animals. After finishing the 10 hour training program, they can come back at any time so they can read a story or two to the shelter dogs. With the sign-ups constantly rising, it might be harder to get a spot to read to the dogs. Luckily, if all is well, the Humane Society of Missouri plans on expanding their reading program to all the animals in the shelter, even the cats.