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Relishing reading to Roo

JAMES IRELAND
Last updated 10:36 24/06/2014
Aydenn Franklyn and Roo
James Ireland

GAINING CONFIDENCE: Aydenn Franklyn’s reading has improved dramatically since she started to read to Roo the greyhound.

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Little Aydenn Franklyn's reading skills have gone through the roof after just a few weeks of time spent with her new mate Roo.

The 6-year-old goes to the Otara Library every week and reads to the 3-year-old former racing greyhound which now has a new career as a reading recovery dog.

Mum Joanne says her daughter's confidence has soared.

"She just loves to read now. When she first started she would read Roo one book. Now it's six or seven.

"Aydenn has tried to read to our family dog, but Roo's different. It's like he's actually listening to the kids read to him."

Roo is owned by senior librarian Pritcilla Meikle and comes to the library three times a week so children can read to him.

"We got him in October last year specifically to become a reading recovery dog," Meikle says.

"We spent about a year getting the programme organised. We were going to adopt a greyhound anyway, whether the programme went ahead or not."

Roo once lived in Christchurch where he was a successful racing dog.

But he was forced to retire after he broke a toe.

Meikle says feedback to the reading programme has been "110 per cent" positive from children and parents alike.

"The kids come along and sign up then they choose what to read to him. Some of them really think about what books he would like. They tend to avoid books about cats."

Meikle always sits next to Roo when he is being read to and teaches the kids what to do and what not to do around him.

"In this area a lot of kids are scared of dogs. They may have been bitten - there's a lot that wander around the area.

"This also teaches them how to treat dogs kindly. Roo's really relaxed and one young boy asked me if that was because he got a hiding every night.

"I had to tell him that we never touch Roo like that. He's only to be treated with kindness." Reading with Roo is a pilot scheme that runs until October. The library will then review the scheme and decide whether to continue it.

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- Manukau Courier

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