Dogs on Duty: Sprite’s Hero therapy dogs help kids learn to read

HANOVER, Va. (WRIC) — Reading is in session at Pearson’s Corner Elementary School, and third grader William Haynie is flipping through a favorite with not just any book buddy.

Savannah the Sheltie is a volunteer with the Sprite’s Hero Paws to R.E.A.D. program.

“She’ll sort of put her paw on the book if I say something wrong,” Haynie says.

Chris Miller’s dog Sprite is the namesake for the nonprofit. (Photo: Sprite’s Hero)

Chris Miller started Sprite’s Hero in 2006 after noticing her dog Sprite’s ability to connect with everyone he met, including children.

“We know there’s a bond with dogs and kids and allows them to open up and be more receptive to any assistance that we as humans can provide,” Miller explains why the program is so powerful.

Adds Doris Favale, a Reading Specialist at Pearson’s Corner, “It builds their confidence to be able to read to an unbiased, non-judgemental reader or listener, the dog.”

Volunteer Janie Robertson started bringing her dog Gracie to the school early in the year, and she sees success as the months pass.

“She’s the gateway that brings us all together as a unit,” Robertson affectionately pats Gracie.

The students enjoy their time in the reading lab when the dogs stop by for Paws to R.E.A.D.

Nicky George enjoys when Savannah visits the reading lab.

“Cause it gives me more time to read,” explains Nicky George, a second grade student.

They build a friendship and learn to love books at the same time.

“Who wouldn’t love to read to a furry little dog that’s so cute?” Favale asks with a smile.

Sprite’s Hero needs more volunteers for the Paws to R.E.A.D. program.

To get your therapy dog involved, follow this link.

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