In the article “How Reading Aloud to Therapy Dogs Can Help Struggling Children,” on KQED News, author Juli Fraga explains how reading comprehension changed at Gordon J. Lau Elementary School in San Fransisco by simply having a therapy dog on campus. Fraga begins her article about two years ago when principal Diane Lau-Yee noticed that her students were not performing well in their academics due to tragedies in the household-such as deaths, violence, etc. She specifically noticed that those with these types of problems expressed it in different ways; some would lash out and get angry leading to fights and others would completely shut down. Lau-Yee wanted to find a way to fix this problem and help her struggling students. Fraga continues by sharing Lau-Yee’s way of helping her students with the use of a therapy dog. She believed that by giving her students the emotional tools needed through the use of the dog would teach the students about empathy and help with the literacy needed for their education. This is when Lau-Yee decided it was best to get help from Stanley, a therapeutic dog who was beloved by most of the children in the community. Stanley belongs to educational therapist Rebecca Barker Bridges who believes that a dog can help students feel more confident in the classroom. Bridges said that,”Students feel self-conscious about reading because they’re afraid of being judged by students and teachers if they don’t do a ‘good job.’ But Stanley dismantles this fear for them. He makes learning joyful.” Principal Lau-Yee felt that this was very important to the children at her school. The first time she took Stanley to an assembly the students were immediately drawn to him and she knew it was the perfect fit.
In todays world the use of therapy dogs is becoming a lot more popular. It seems that you see them anywhere you go. But, the problem lies with the fact that most of these “therapy dogs” aren’t qualified to be a therapy dog. Specific qualifications need to be tested by an organization in order for them to legally be a therapy dog. When reading this article, it made me feel happy for the children who were receiving help and were realizing that they do have a companion that can show them love and teach them empathy. It also made me enraged due to there are many dogs and trainers out there that put much time and effort into training these dogs for the needs of children and adults; Now, with people buying “service dog” vests online it is making it more difficult to take the dogs that are certified out into public for the needs of others. This article reminds me of how the culture of our school has changed since we have dogs on campus now. Although the dogs at school are being trained for a different purpose, they still help eliminate some stress from our daily lives just like the dog in the article. One question I am still left with is if dogs can help improve reading comprehension in elementary students, why can’t most schools have them available to students when needed