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Ziggy The Relaxed Therapy Dog Encourages Children To Read

Reynolds Academy children read to Therapy Dog Ziggy, who visits the school to encourage them to practise their reading out loud. With him are, from left, Year 5 pupils, Bobby-Lee Horton, Ruby Matheson, Lucas Howson, Oliver Flello, Maddison Jones and Charlie Carrington. 

Readers at Reynolds Academy have found a new way of practising their skills when Ziggy The Therapy Dog visits the school.

The adorable Old English Sheepdog is brought along by Diane Ottley, of Pets As Therapy, to encourage the children to read out loud. She explained how the calming influence of the dog brings even the most reticent children out of their shells.

“The therapy dogs provide a very relaxing atmosphere.The children almost forget they are reading and, if they usually won’t read in front of adults, they will sit quite happily and read to Ziggy or any of the other dogs,” she said. “The children also enjoy patting the dogs and that relaxes them so it is a very enjoyable experience,“ she said.

“Ziggy is a calm dog but occasionally even he can be bouncy. When he sees the children it is as if they calm him as well, so it works both ways. He loves coming into school, and gets very excited as soon as we pull into the car park.”

Gareth Cookson, Assistant Principal at Reynolds Academy, said having a reading dog in school has real benefits for the children.

“It is great for the children to have an opportunity to read in a calm, chilled-out environment. It is very good for the confidence of all readers, especially those with special educational needs, who probably wouldn’t want to read in front of people but they will do so with a dog. 

“Ziggy is a very calming influence, especially in this lovely library we have, and it is a very exciting opportunity for the children to read to him and do something they wouldn’t normally do.”

Arlo Dennehy, FS2,  reads Alphablocks to Ziggy the Therapy dog, in the Library at Reynolds Academy. 

Reading to Ziggy are, from left, Year 4 pupils, Sonny Howard, Amelia Atmore and Jacob Bealey.

Ziggy takes time out.

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Reynolds Academy Principal

Rebecca Scott