Those families that want to experience one of the most interesting breeds of dogs in the world can bring their children to R.E.A.D. to a trio of dogs including two Bernese Mountain Dogs and a Landseer Newfoundland, at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 31 at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport.
The acronym stands for Reading Education Assistance Dogs, and this is how it works: If a child is a weak reader or suffers any anxiety or shyness about reading aloud, this audience will never correct or criticize, thereby building the child’s confidence and self-esteem. The three dogs, named Freeport, Mr. Cooper and Penny, are official therapy dogs registered with Therapy Dogs International. Before they gained that distinction, they had to be certified through the American Kennel Club as “canine good citizens.” Now they are R.E.A.D. dogs, tested in the presence of things like wheelchairs, crowds and senior citizens.
Owner Regina Helfer says that so far during her stay at the Harraseeket, she witnessed the calming effect of the dogs on one anxious boy as he read. She relates the fact that she and her partner travel to schools and other locations to let children visit with and read to the dogs, and she says, “The biggest thing is, we are the chauffeurs, and the dogs are the miracle workers.”
Bernese Mountain Dogs | Harraseeket Inn, 162 Main St., Freeport | Thursday, Dec. 31, at 4:00pm