Reading program goes to the dogs

LeeLoo and Tina Baker leaned in close as Cierra Lovegrove read to them.

Lovegrove,8, reading from Stephen Michael King's "Mutt Dog!", seemed to keep LeeLoo's attention. Perhaps it was the subject matter. A case of one dog being interested in the exploits of another. Or, perhaps, just curiosity.

Either way, Saturday's program was a good opportunity for area children to get some additional practice reading in a non-threatening environment.

Representatives from PAWS Columbus and READing Paws, and their canine counterparts, proved an attentive audience for the long line of children who either read for them, or, in the case of one young man, simply told a story about getting scratched by a cat he wouldn't leave alone.

Marilu Novy, program and volunteer coordinator for PAWS Columbus, brought Mandy, her Portugese Water Dog, to the event.

She said it's an opportunity for children to read to an audience that doesn't judge, laugh or criticize them if they make a mistake. The handler can also help the child with pronunciations if needed.

"The dog and the child are the integral team," Novy said.

The READing paws program is a state program with registered reading dogs and PAWS Columbus does a variety of reading programs with registered therapy dogs.