Therapy Animals of Utah is proud to participate in the Pet Partners Read With Me™ program. Several of our volunteer teams volunteer at libraries in the Wasatch and Park City areas. One such team is a shih tzu named Chuckee and his handler Conchita, who have been members of Therapy Animals of Utah since 2004. They have been volunteering at West Jordan Library for the past couple of years. Previously they volunteered at a care center. Chuckee arrives at the West Jordan library every other Saturday afternoon seated in a stroller that is pushed by Conchita. The librarians are very supportive of the program and place books inside the entrance that youngsters can choose from to read to Chuckee. Not surprisingly, most of the books feature stories about animals!
While in the library, Chuckee usually sits on his handler’s lap or on a chair facing the child who is reading to him. Chuckee is a perfect audience for young readers. He proactively focuses his attention on the reader and is never impatient or judgmental if someone struggles with a word. At times, he delights the youngsters by falling asleep because their reading is so relaxing to him.
Through these experiences, Chuckee and other animals that participate in the Read With Me™ program provide encouragement to keep reading which in turn helps children improve their reading skills. It is known that children with good reading abilities have a better chance of excelling in school and opportunities of better jobs in adulthood. More children with improved reading abilities translates to better opportunities during their adulthood and a stronger nation in general. See this recent research article! Who would have thought that a tiny shih tzu named Chuckee could have such a profound impact?!