AIKEN, SOUTH CAROLINA — “Plush is an understatement. That place is amazing.” That is the passage from the book “Dork Diaries” as read by North Aiken Elementary School 5th grader Chei’Yianne Willams….to a four year-old bulldog.
“It helps me to read better, out loud and to dogs,” Williams said.
“The animals, for the most part, can’t get enough of this,” said Ellie Joos, Event Chair for Friends Of The Animal Shelter (FOTAS).
It’s called the Dog Ears Reading Program. Children 5 years of age and up are invited to the Aiken County Animal Shelter on scheduled days to practice their skills by reading to homeless dogs and also cats, who get much-needed attention and affection in return.
“No matter how much time we volunteer to spend with the animals it is still stressful,” Joos said. “So it is important that we bring in people to talk to them, and especially the children because often times if a family comes in and they see a particular dog we can say ‘Oh, that dog is great with children!’”
The animals and kids make an immeasurable difference for each another.
“When I’m reading it will come close to me and put its head on my lap,” said Williams.
“The kids get to read to the dogs and the dogs don’t judge them,” Joos said. “So they get to practice their reading skills and the dogs benefit by having some socialization. The can not get enough of the attention. They just love the attention that the get.”
All of the animals featured in the program are available for adoption.