To improve reading skills, ICCS first graders read to dogs - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

To improve reading skills, ICCS first graders read to dogs

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(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC) (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
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CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

Learning how to read isn't always easy for children, but some say it helps when you have a good listener.

On Friday, students at ICCS had perhaps the best listeners available, man's best friend.

KPLC's Erica Bivens explains why therapy dogs can help people and children in more ways than one.

As Porter Pourciau reads out loud, Pierre the poodle patiently listens.

"We're called the Dr. Dogs Pet Therapy Team and our dogs are all different breeds, they have a wonderful temperament," explained Susan Stanford, Pet Therapy Coordinator.

Stanford says the organization started in 2007. Made up entirely of volunteers, they visit hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, and today ICCS.

"The kids are going to read to the dogs. They'll sit on a blanket, the kids will read," said Stanford.

But perhaps the best part is that these dogs sit and listen quietly and don't critique the students.

"It helps them with their reading skills, it builds their confidence and gives them an opportunity to interact with some pets, especially if they don't have a pet of their own at home," said Erin Lang, Director of Development.

Many say research proves therapy dogs have a calming effect on people. One of the volunteers who had a stroke, says he's seen it firsthand.

Plus, they bring happiness and cheer to others, as was evident today.

And volunteers like Stanford say, "We really like doing this too."

It's a good thing, because they may be making another trip back to the school.

"It is the first time that we've had them here on campus so I hope the first of many because it's been a great experience," said Lang.

And despite it being a hard day's work, these dogs seemed to have enjoyed their time with the students.

The dogs are registered and belong to a therapy dog organization. The minimum age for dogs to get involved is one-year-old.

Organizers say they're always looking for more volunteers with calm dogs who love people.

For more information on the group visit: http://www.swladrdogscom.fatcow.com/

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