Helpful Pets

Girl with Therapy Dog
Dogs can’t read! So how can they help kids become better readers?

In January, the Bidens’ German Shepherds made the news when they moved into the White House. Many presidents have had dogs, cats, and other animals. Pets can be great friends! But some animals have special jobs. They can be trained to help people.

Some dogs are trained to help their owners in an emergency. They might go get help from another person, set off an alarm, or even use a special phone to call 9-1-1. Dogs help people in wheelchairs, too. A dog can be trained to press buttons on an elevator, open a refrigerator or a door, carry bags, and do many other tasks. Dogs can also bring medicine to their owners and can even sense when a human has low blood sugar or may be having a seizure.

Pet therapy helps people in so many ways. Spending time with a pet can calm you down. Pet therapy can reduce pain and anxiety, too. Spending time with a therapy animal can boost self-esteem. People interacting with therapy animals can develop better social skills and learn how to communicate more effectively.

Some kids are uncomfortable reading aloud. This makes it even harder for them to learn how to read well. Therapy animals can help. Many schools and libraries have programs where kids can read to dogs. Not only is it fun to read a dog, but dogs don’t care if readers make a mistake. They just listen!

Many people know about therapy dogs, but dogs aren’t the only animals used for therapy. People have trained pot-bellied pigs, horses, cats, birds guinea pigs, monkeys, llamas, dolphins, and even rats as therapy animals.

What Do You Think? Why do you think people respond so well to therapy animals?

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