Danny the reading dog
Who would have guessed that an abandoned greyhound in Ireland would become a recognised celebrity, win awards and hob nob with celebrities? Danny the Reading Dog, that’s who – a blue and white greyhound, who was rescued from the streets of Cork.
Danny, with his owner Tony Nevett, now visits primary schools all around the UK, making a huge difference to the lives of children through the Kennel Club “Bark & Read” programme.
After finding out about Reading Education Assistance Dogs® (R.E.A.D.) in the United States, Tony, who has a degree in animal assisted therapy, trained the first R.E.A.D. dog in Europe, a greyhound called Scotts, who was also the face of the project’s 10th anniversary celebrations. Following Scotts’s death, Tony trained both Batman and Danny, also greyhounds.
Referred to as “listening dogs” in the UK, when it was piloted in Kent they found that the dogs helped build confidence in the children as they begin to overcome their fear of reading aloud. Tony says Danny is “Very patient, and he’s doing his job very well…he loves the kids and they love him.”
Many of Danny’s readers are special needs children, some of whom include disabled, ADHD, Down Syndrome and autistic children. Danny’s calm, laid back and quiet nature is particularly good for working with these young people.
Tony adds, ‘If the children don’t want to read in class, or they don’t want to read to a teacher – if they read to Danny at least they are learning to read. Children like the idea of reading to dogs, especially because (in the words of one student) “They don’t answer back and they don’t give you a hard time”‘.
If Danny goes to sleep Tony tells the children that he is dreaming about the story! Good work Tony and Danny. We hope to hear more from Danny in the near future.
A book has been written about Danny called Danny Strikes Out in America.
You can visit his website here www.dannystrikesoutinamerica.com/