Hope you all enjoyed a wonderful holiday weekend! We were blessed to celebrate Easter Day with friends and family at our home, and had a great time watching the grandbabies race around the backyard gathering Easter eggs!
Did you happen to see the news article on the internet this weekend about the comfort dog who is working in a school? That article brought back some sweet personal classroom remembrances for me. The article is here on vetstreet.com, and it's about Gracie the Comfort Dog, who's right in the middle of all the action at Trinity Lutheran School in Davenport, Iowa. There's a great clip of Gracie in action, trotting around the gym followed by hordes of adoring six year olds - kind of crazy, but adorable!
The article talks about how Gracie has a sense of knowing when her encouragement is needed (just like any doggie at home with his family!) , like for a little guy who's having separation issues at the beginning of each day. Take a look at the link if you get a chance - at the very least, it will give you a smile to start out your week!
And now for the personal connection...
A few years ago, my daughter Andrea was able to bring her beloved St. Bernard mix Bama into my classroom to read with my little ones. Now Bama was HUGE (sort of along the line of a small cow, actually...), but the sweetest and gentlest dog I've ever met. He had been through training and was a visitor to nursing homes with Andrea. Bama was just a big old mush of a guy, and a huge hit in our classroom! Here are a few photos of Bama's visit.
Bedtime stories were apparently his favorites!
They just couldn't stop talking about Bama after his visit, so of course we wrote a class book about it. At our end-of-year book raffle (to send class books home as keepers), needless to say that it was the first book chosen!
The children adored reading to Bama and came back to me years later to ask about him. You may not personally know someone with a dog like this, but many public libraries are now having "Read to the Dog" programs. Maybe you can help parents connect their child with a listening, patient, and
non-judgemental friend to encourage them along their road to reading!
Sadly, we lost Bama to osteosarcoma a few years ago. It's sweet to think that his memory lives forever not only with us, but with a group of now-eleven year-old adoring readers.
Here's a great readaloud to accompany your own adventures into doggyland. Rosie: A Visiting Dog's Story was written by children's author Stephanie Calmenson about her own dog. This book and its amazing photos are also a great way to also encourage empathy in your young students.
Have you had a visiting dog in your classroom? I'd love it if you'd leave a comment to tell us about it!