Vancouver Bookstore Goes to the Dogs

Posted by: Mark McLeod  //  January 15, 2009 @ 3:49pm

A bookstore in Burnaby, B.C. went to the dogs this past Friday, January 9th, when canines Sofie, Belle and Maggie (along with their owners Barbara Swanston, Bev Mattson and Shelley Fletcher) came out to participate in a special book reading in support of the upcoming family film Hotel for Dogs. Children of all ages were also present at the Metrotown location of Chapters as passages from the Hotel for Dogs movie book were read aloud as Sofie, Belle and Maggie (along with the kids!) listened attentively.

For the past four years Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) like Sofie, Belle and Maggie, along with their owners, have been volunteering in schools throughout the Lower Mainland. Their goal? To help children experience the joy of reading.

Through this program when children read to the dogs the kids become more relaxed and calm. The dogs not only listen attentively, they also don't judge, laugh or criticize. This helps create an environment which is safe, comfortable and fun. It helps make reading a treat for kids who may normally struggle with books under other circumstances.

Each of the R.E.A.D. dogs is a registered therapy animal and has been screened for temperament, health and suitability for the school environment.

"Every R.E.A.D. volunteer has marvelous stories to tell," says representative Terry Pratt, "like the child who was four years below grade level in his reading and was unhappy and angry most of the time."

"When he came to spend time with the dog his fears seemed to melt away. He would ask Strider questions about the story and make sure that he saw every picture as they went along. In his classroom he became more willing to try things and his self esteem improved. He asked if he could bring books along that he was interested in trying to read. When asked if he would like to continue reading with a dog the following year he said he would but only if he could have two R.E.A.D. dogs. This way he would have two best friends to read to."

There are hundreds of R.E.A.D. teams throughout United States and Canada. If you are interested in finding out more please contact magictails@yahoo.ca.

Hotel for Dogs opens in theatres across North America on Friday, January 16th.

Mark McLeod has always loved film. In addition to his roles with ShowbizMonkeys.com, Mark also works on many film promotion projects in Vancouver, BC, through his company, Mark McLeod PR.

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