Here’s one for the books. At an animal shelter in Pennsylvania, a lady in front of a dog’s cage was caught on camera reading a book to a shelter dog! Well, Groucho Marx did say that, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.” So it’s not such a far-fetched idea to bring both best friends together and spend some quality time bringing comfort to each other.
The photo is truly awe-inspiring. It speaks volumes of the lady’s selfless act of generosity. She regularly reads to shelter dogs. Some are up for adoption, some are critically ill, and some are seriously injured. Those with a terminal illness are destined to undergo euthanasia.
A few of them that need special care make the transition via foster homes before they’re put up for adoption. Short of adopting these dispirited dogs, this lady comes to the local humane society to lift the dogs’ spirits and let them feel they’re not alone in this world. There’s no doubt that her simple act has caught on since there’s an increasing trend of volunteers offering their free time to read to the dogs.
There are other things that a volunteer can do for the animals in the shelters, including helping out with the rabbits, taking out dogs for walks, feeding the birds, or cuddling cats. There are similar programs that encourage kids to read aloud to pet animals, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and hamsters.
The setup is usually at the children’s own homes or at some local libraries, and is designed to develop the children’s confidence in reading and empathy towards animals. Very rarely though does the activity take place at animal shelters where the animals are mostly withdrawn and resigned to their fate.
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Reading aloud to animals has proven beneficial both to the person and the animals. It has helped develop self-confidence, improve reading abilities, and instill awareness of others especially among children involved in these activities. Shy kids were observed to have gotten rid of their initial inhibitions.
Exposure to animals has also been a good exercise to encourage empathy and community involvement among the young generation.
On the other hand, reading can do much good to distressed animals. Animals are comforted to great extents, especially those that are confined in shelters waiting for adoption or euthanasia. During the reading sessions, the animals were observed to settle down soon after hearing the soothing drone of the reader.
They could bark or sometimes look sleepy, but dogs would never criticize how the readers deliver their stories. They’re such open-minded souls! At the end of the day or the story, whichever comes first, the child would have gained confidence in his or her reading ability, and the dog would have found a companion or a friend, albeit temporary.
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With luck, some of these animals shall have become more sociable after regular reading sessions and constant exposure to humans. Hopefully, too, this increases their chance of being transitioned to a foster home or finding a new adoptive family.
There’s actually a lot to be done in regards to alleviating animals’ lives in shelters all over the country. This lady’s model of kindness is such a good start, and it must not go unheeded. These animal shelters definitely need volunteers, if only to show the animals they’re not alone. It may be a thankless job but the rewards can be pretty fulfilling.