"We are never really happy until we try to brighten the lives of others."
~ Helen Keller
All-Around READing Dogs
Ohio ~ "Rooney"  

After registering with Delta Society, they formed their team (“Read to Roo”) with Reading Education Assistance Dogs and in November 2010 began volunteering in their local elementary school, Graytown Elementary. Children are strengthening their literacy skills with Roo in the same first-grade classroom Meredith attends, so that makes it extra special.

Sable Smooth Collie, Read to Roo

Rooney is ready for Read to Roo
in his R.E.A.D.ing attire.

Roo gets dressed before each session. Tina notices a sparkle comes alive in his eyes, as if he knows what day it is and what that vest and scarf mean.  His tail always wags lazily as he tiptoes past the classrooms, hearing the children whispering hello from their desks.  He finds his familiar spot in the back of the library and waits patiently until Tina says she is ready, and then he stands up and almost instinctively walks to the classroom to bring back the first child.  He knows what to do, and he LOVES to do this.

Classroom of first graders and their Reading Education Assistance Dog, Rooney

The students and staff in the first grade classroom:
Absolutely PAWSOME

Roo’s caring and intuitive nature are the reasons Tina wanted to share him with others, thus her decision to add therapy training to his résumé. Tina says therapy work came so naturally to him that it wasn’t even asking him to behave differently than he would already choose to act. He loves attention, and it seems nothing makes him happier than bringing a smile to someone’s face.

Sable smooth collie

Roo, cleaning his special foot.

Tina firmly believes Roo was never meant to be a show dog.  He had that special foot for a reason.  The reason brought him here, to her and to the children.  It is his lucky foot!  He has no trouble with it, save the occasional hitch in his step.  It has never slowed him down.  When someone asks about it and what happened to him, she explains the medical reason for its appearance. She also tells them 3 very important things:  Roo is healthy.  Roo is happy.  Roo is proud to be different and special, and you should be too.

As they expand their program, they are taking in more students from various grade levels. Tina is trying to spread the word about R.E.A.D. and is creating a website called www.readtoroo.com. She says she feels very fortunate to have found this program that combines her love of animals and reading. She hopes more volunteers will step up and become R.E.A.D. teams for their area and is excited about all the positive change they could see.

Books about Collies as well as books about both deaf dogs and deaf children include:

Elana's Ears, by Gloria Roth Lowell
Sandwiches for Duke, by Judy Ann Sadler
Sit! Stay! Sign! by Marion Margolis
The Chrismas Colle, by Ted Paul

Rooney, affectionately known as “Roo,’ is a Smooth Collie. This short- and dense-coated version of the familiar Rough Collie (such as Lassie) is sometimes thought of as the easy-care wash-and-wear variety of the breed. Collies are one of the most recognizable breeds, and whether they have long or short hair, they are gentle, intelligent, loyal companions that love being with their people and excel in whatever tasks are asked of them.

This smooth collie  is a therapy dog that helps children practice reading.

Handsome Roo poses under
a colorful reading banner.

Rooney was born February 20, 2006, originally destined to become a show dog. When the breeder discovered a deformity in his left front foot (two inner toes fused together), it was uncertain how he would be affected in the future. Hearing about this special pup needing a special home, Tina drove more than 500 miles to Tennessee and brought him back to her home in Ohio. Having lots of experience both with dogs and in veterinary care, Tina felt she could give him the best home possible. Now he adores his “brothers and sisters” (a chocolate Lab and two cats), willingly sharing his toys, treats, even his bed with them all. Tina’s daughter, Meredith, is just a little older than Roo and they are the best of friends.

Smooth collie helps child listens while child reads to him

Meredith and Roo,
a true pair of bookworms!

Roo learned obedience commands quickly and Tina even began to teach him a little modified American Sign Language in lieu of typical hand signals. She eventually increased training so that everyone will be able to communicate with him, even if they have a hearing difficulty, and says he knows more than 30 signs now and learns them faster than she does!

Roo knows library behavior and calmly
awaits the next student who will read to him.

Sadly, gentle Rooney crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on June 15, 2016, at the age of 10. He touched many hearts and left wonderful memories with all who met him.