Nelson, a seven-year-old Old English Sheep Dog known as a “Tail-Waggin’ Tutor,” likes reading — especially when kids do the honors.
Thursday afternoon, Nelson made his Annual appearance at the Greensburg-Decatur County Public County Public Library for a session of reading with school-age children, most of them from Greensburg Elementary School.
Anita McCreary, who owns and trains Nelson, told the Daily News that Nelson has been trained and certified by Therapy Dogs International (TDI).
“Nelson went through a stringent program and had to pass the Canine Good Citizens Test,” McCreary said. “It includes 10 points, with categories such as basic obedience.”
Nelson is trained to encourage young children to read by employing a simple method: He listens.
“The key,” McCreary explained, “is that Nelson doesn’t judge. He doesn’t correct the kids; he doesn’t tell them they’re reading to slowly or too quickly; he doesn’t lose interest. He just listens.”
Assistant Children’s Librarian Laura Jo Tebbe characterized Nelson as an effective tool for encouraging kids to read.
“Nelson is especially good for kids who might otherwise be too shy or embarrassed to read out loud in class,” Tebbe said. “He encourages kids to be comfortable reading out loud, because he doesn’t judge; he just listens.”
Nelson’s capacity to listen without judging or correcting, Tebbe added, helps kids build confidence in their reading skills. He’s also helpful for kids who might be behind in reading.
About 20 children showed up for Thursday’s session with Nelson, each reading five to 10 minutes to the canine, before bowing to the next child in line.
“All the kids were great,” McCreary said. “They each stood in line and patiently waited their turn.”
McCreary encouraged any dog owner and dog lover interested in participating in the TDI program to enroll their animal.
“TDI will take any breed,” she said. “That doesn’t matter. What does matter is your dog’s general temperament. He or she should be very even tempered, pretty laid back. If your dog meets that baseline criterion, TDI will work with and train the dog to pass their 10-point Canine Good Citizen Test.”
For more information on Nelson or the TDI program, call Anita McCreary at 812-527-2955 or visit www.tdi.dog.org.
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.