A (therapy) dog lifts you up and never lets you down!
What do you get when you bring children, dogs, and books together?
You get happy, confident children who love to read. Children are introduced to the wonderful, magical word of books in a positive and unique way. In no time at all, the reading skills of most children will improve.
ARDAT’s Children Reading to Dogs program encourages children to read by providing a non-judgmental listener and furry friend to read. A friend who will not laugh at them if they make a mistake or stumble over a word, but rather lie next to them and enjoy listening to the story being read.
Research indicates that children with low self-esteem are often more willing to interact with an animal than with another person.
With this program, children are reading not just to any dog, but to a therapy dog. These dogs are trained and together with their owner-handler form a team. They are ideal reading companions, who listen attentively and are not intimidating, unlike classmates. The petting and other loving interactions between the child and the dog as they share a story are an additional therapeutic benefit. Another bonus of the program is that it encourages children to be responsible and loving towards animals.
ARDAT (Ajijic Rotary Dog Assisted Therapy), an initiative of the Rotary Club of Ajijic, has become an ongoing community program that provides therapy dog teams for visiting institutions and various educational purposes.
ARDAT therapy dogs are also deployed to comfort victims of disasters.
In over two years, ARDAT therapy dog teams have made more than 1300 visits to Lakeside assisted living and nursing homes, orphanages, libraries and schools.
What is Dog Assisted Therapy? Dog-assisted therapy is the utilization of dogs in a therapeutic context to provide, joy, comfort, and motivation. It has been proven clinically that through petting, touching, talking and reading to animals, a person’s blood pressure is lowered, stress relieved, and depression eased.
What is a Therapy Dog? While many dogs provide love and companionship in the home, not all dogs are suitable or have the temperament to be a therapy dog. A therapy dog (not to be confused with an assistance dog or service dog) is obedience-trained, has an outstanding disposition, excellent manners, is calm and well behaved, wants to visit people, and loves children.
ARDAT therapy dogs are pets owned by people with a desire to help increase the quality of life in our community. A dog and his/her owner have to be close partners in order to make a successful therapy dog team.
The dogs are screened for temperament, health, manners and attitude. Each ARDAT dog is fully vaccinated, and carries a health certificate from a registered veterinarian.
ARDAT is looking for volunteers with dogs that are suitable to work with children. Many local children have reading problems. In municipal schools, this is often associated with issues at home (abusive parents, neglect by parents because of alcoholism, drugs, poverty. etc.). Many children are not even interested in reading, simply because they are not introduced to it at home. Consequently, as much as 33% of children have reading difficulties. ARDAT helps children begin building skills for the future by encouraging them to read and showing them how much fun reading can be. ARDAT wants to encourage schools to implement the Reading to Dogs program, not only to help children improve their reading skills, but also to help keep them off the streets. For more information, please contact ARDAT Director Julianna Rose at 766-5025, or ARDAT Coordinator Cindy Paustian at 766-5951.