"Dogs are miracles with paws."
~attributed to Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy
 
All-Around READing Dogs
Tennessee ~ Lottie Dot and Dora  

Dalmatian, reading, books

Lottie Dot can hold the book open.

Lottie Dot and Dora work at an abuse center with children who won’t speak due to severe abuse, Severely abused children who have trust issues open up to these special dogs and talk to them about their pain. In addition, they work at a school with dyslectic children and they’ve visited the West Tennessee School for the Deaf and read a book. They teach in a way children can understand. Visiting the School for the Deaf, they teach hearing- impaired children that they look no different from hearing children. It is a sight to see.

Dalmatian, library visit, chidlren, read dogs

Library visitors look forward to
reading with Lottie Dot.

In the Hospitals:
Getting veterans to exercise is sometimes difficult or painful. Therapy dogs have a sneaky way to make physical therapy fun and enjoyable.

Deaf dogs have a keen sense to a person’s mood by watching body language or facial expressions.  Lottie and Dora know when to lie quietly beside a hospice child and just accept petting or when to be a clown and get laughs for doing tricks.

As soon as the dogs enter a hospital room the entire mood changes.  Kids’ faces light up no matter what pain or struggle they are experiencing.  Hospitals can be a scary place for children.  Visiting therapy dogs help children relax and let them forget their pain no matter how brief.  The dogs help with mobility issues and divert their attention during special procedures.  The children and their parents, as well as the hospital staff, love when the dogs visit.

Active breeds such as Dalmatians do best when they are kept busy; i.e., they need a job. Pat and these two are prime examples of keeping busy!

 Tennessee Safety Spotters, Dalmatians

TN Safety Spotters

To spotlight the Dalmatians’ value as companion dogs and ultimately increase their adoption, Pat has created TN Safety Spotters. The goal of this nonprofit organization is to significantly reduce the number of dog bite injuries and fire deaths in children by using deaf therapy dogs as educational tools and teaching aides in Fire Safety and Dog Bite Prevention programs.

Fire Safety:
These age-appropriate Fire Safety Programs are designed to meet the needs of various age groups.  Lottie Dot and Dora teach kids to Stop, Drop and Roll, crawl low under smoke, how to dial 9-1-1, and learn all about smoke alarms.  Each child gets a certificate to become a TN Fire Safety Spotter.

Tennessee Safety Spotters, Dalmatians, Teaching Children

Dog Bite Prevention:
These well-trained therapy dogs will go to schools or events and do an age-appropriate presentation on responsible dog ownership and basic dog safety rules such as how to approach and pet a dog and what to do when a strange dog runs up toward you.  A certificate is given at the end of each program certifying the children TN Dog Safety Spotters.

Pat says a wonderful book that the “Spotters” are using now in the R.E.A.D. program is Fire Fighters. She says all the characters are Dalmatians, very cute, and fun to read about.

Click here to see more of Fire Fighters, by Norma Simon.

Lottie Dot and Dora especially enjoy this new book called Fire Fighters.

Lottie Dot and Dora do not let being deaf define them. Pat says watching them interact with children is truly magical. These special dogs hear with their hearts, not their ears

Sadly, young 2-year-old Dora suddenly and unexpectedly crossed over The Rainbow Bridge on May 11, 2011.

 

More children's stories about Dalmatians include:

101 Dalmatians, by R. H. Disney
102 Dalmatians, by R. H. Disney
Sit! Stay! Sign! by Marion Margolis

One of Pat's favorite books to use is Ralph's First Day of School. She says it involves a live dog that participates in the book. The dog sits on command, down, stop, drop and roll, shake, spin….the kids get very involved and love it. Pat uses it when she has to read to the kids, if she's the only team with several readers or if the child can’t read due to severe disability, for example. She says she wore her first book out and wrote the author, who sent another to her, personally autographed.

Ralph’s First Day of School,by Terry Simons

(Click on the titles above for a brief description and convenient ordering information.)

 

Lottie Dot and Dora are Dalmatians. Although easily recognized by their distinctive spotted coat, Dalmatian puppies actually are born with pure white hair, the spots being in the pigment of their skin. At about two weeks of age, their white coat develops into black or liver (brown) spots as it grows.

Dalmatians typically have a stable and outgoing temperament. They are known to be a people-loving, fun-loving, but a very high-energy breed that needs daily exercise.  Lottie Dot and Dora definitely have these traits of enthusiasm and playfulness. They are outstanding R.E.A.D. and therapy dogs, and they do lots of tricks, making learning fun.

German Shepherd relaxes as a child reads to him.

Special ed students have a special time with a
very special dog.

Getting and keeping a child motivated is what they do best. These two absolutely do not sleep through reading sessions, and the school staff as well as the students love it when the dogs really participate. Their owner, Pat, says it’s nice to go back the next week and have the children ask for her dogs by name. It makes her feel she’s doing her part by teaching them.


Dallmatian, therapy dog, reading with children

You got the word right
and a high five from Lottie Dot!

Lottie Dot was rescued off the interstate during a snowstorm when she was just 8 weeks old. Dora came to Pat at 3 months after her breeder noticed something special about her and had read about Lottie Dot’s accomplishments.

Dalmatian, therapy dog, reading education assistance dog

Dora practices for her weekly reading session
with a dyslexic child.

Lottie Dot and Dora are also very special because they are both deaf. About 30% of Dalmatians are born deaf. Deaf dogs are welcome to become registered therapy dogs, but they have to pass the difficult tests the same as hearing dogs. That hasn’t held these two back; for example, Dora passed her Canine Good Citizen test when she was just 8 months old.

Dora likes to turn the pages.

It is important that training begin very early for a deaf dog. Because of this training challenge, Pat has learned to “think outside the box.”  Using hand signals, she taught them to look at the words on the pages and point to them on command.  If readers make mistakes, she can tell them that Lottie Dot (or Dora) didn’t understand that word and would they please repeat it. 

 



A banner announces Lottie Dot is here today.

This R.E.A.D. team specializes in reading therapy in schools, working with children who are abused and/or who have speech and language difficulties, and they also do several summer R.E.A.D. programs in libraries. For several years, the dogs have worked in a high school special ed class. 



A polite sign discourages interruptions.

Whether it’s working on self-esteem, speech difficulties, or emotional problems, the kids don’t mind reading to a dog because the dogs won’t judge them or laugh at them.  They make reading fun!

     
 
 
 
 

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