"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child."
~ Mary Ellen Chase
 
All-Around READing Dogs
California ~ "Thorndyke"  

A pat from a child to Thorndyke, a golden retriever Reading Education Assistance Dog.

"Turn the page, pat my back -- life is good!"

Thorndyke is very busy visiting schools and libraries for story time. And it's not only for the youngest readers. After Elizabeth retired from teaching at the elementary level, she began at the Gateway to College-Early College/High School on the Riverside Community College campus. Four days a week Thorndyke visits the classrooms for young adults ages 16-21. College students at the Riverside Campus of the community college view him as a familar figure as he travels from one class to another while Elizabeth teaches her reading courses.

Children love reading to this golden retriever.

Happy to be surrounded by children.
Thorndyke has a big smile for everyone.

Once a month, Thorndyke goes to Be A Reading Kid (B.A.R.K.) at the Casa Blanca Learning Center. Another regular monthly program is PawPals at the Upland Library. And that's not all! Thorndyke has also helped with presentations at local Riverside schools about Dogs with Jobs.

Thorndyke's new career in pet therapy and literacy has been quite successful. He enjoys working, helping people, and--of course--receiving the affection and love he craves on a regular basis. He and Elizabeth know this is his true calling, the life he was meant to lead!

Books about Golden Retrievers include:

Bailey Bymyside, by Patricia Burlin Kennedy.
One Golden Year: A Story of a Golden Retriever, by Coleen Hubbard.
The Secret of Saying Thanks, by Douglas Wood.

One day Thorndyke got some unexpected news from Guide Dogs of America. He was no longer a guide dog puppy-in-training, but a "career change dog." He had liked being a puppy in training, going out daily in public to visit and socialize in different environments, but now that job was over. Thorndyke knew he would not be happy staying at home, so he hoped the career change would involve tons of petting by new people. However, life seemed just the opposite. Day after day, his owner left the house without him! 'Hey, what about me? Where's my yellow jacket?' Thorndyke whined. "When will I start my new career?"

This golden retriever is a therapy dog that helps children practice reading.

As a young puppy, handsome Thorndyke
began training for Guide Dogs of America.

Luckily, about four months later a show called Reading Rainbow on PBS featured pet therapy animals which Elizabeth watched with her first-grade students. She was drawn to the idea because she felt Thorndyke, with his Guide puppy experience, would be a great therapy dog. Also, people could pet, hug, love, and hold him while he was "working" in various environments.

Therapy was a great idea, but when Elizabeth and Thorndyke learned about R.E.A.D., they knew he has found his niche. This was the perfect job for Thorndyke. Lie around on a cozy dog quilt while children read stories aloud. Only one rule: whenever the reader turns a book's page, he or she must pet the dog. Sometimes Thorndyke will pat the page or touch the pictures with his paw to let the reader know he is paying attention and likes the way they are reading to him.

Golden retriever, Delta Society Pet Therapy Literacy Dog

A very distinguished-looking Thorndyke poses in his
Delta Society Pet Therapy Literacy Dog vest.

Stickers with Thorndyke's photo are given to the readers after their session. They also get a bookmark as a way of saying "Thank You," "I am your friend," "Come back and read to me again."

 

     
 
 
 
 

 

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