Children reading to ME

Yes.  A Border collie as a Therapy Dog.  My Dad is often asked, “How did you train him to be like this?”  At least my Dad doesn’t take credit for my behavior, my personality, my Border collie-ness.  My Dad always explains, “Cody has always been like this….he was adopted from Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue in January of 2004…he has always been this sweet-soul….considerate, respectful, of all people and all dogs, very intuitive, a great sense of right and wrong.”

Thanks, Dad.  I couldn’t have said it better.  One of my more frequent “assignments” has been working children-reading-to-dogs programs.  The concept behind these programs is that the child reads to the dog…there is no judgment, correction or criticizing taking place.  The handler (my Dad) holds my leash and watches for dog-safety issues, but for the most part IGNORES what the child is reading.  That’s what makes this program so relaxed, what happens is just between the child and the dog.  Got it?  So, two years ago, I was working the program at the Mount Prospect library, I had my Dad with me.  Every Thursday night for five weeks, six different children would read to me over and hour and a half.  Every Thursday night for the first four weeks this same boy chose me.  He was Asian, probably 4th grade, dressed up as…a skater dude.  And every night for the first four sessions, Skater Dude would kneel about 5 feet from me.  No petting, no looking.  Just reading to me from five feet away.  (are you afraid?  am i dirty?  why are you choosing me?  im’ very cool, i play frisbee, i bet i am faster than you, i bet i can catch a frisbee better than you! c’mon, look at me, pet me, talk to me)  Nothing.  Just reading…to…himself…

I was there for the 5th and last session of the winter term.  I have a plan.  Skater-dude comes in with his green skateboard sweatshirt.  He kneels five feet from me.  But I am not laying flat, I have my head up, ears up, I am paying attention.  Does skater-dude notice something is different?  Skater-dude begins reading.  I stand up, walk over to skater-dude…….and LAY ACROSS HIS LAP – ON MY BACK – SO I AM LOOKING UP INTO EYES.  (here i am, i am very sweet, it’s ok to touch me, it’s ok to pet me, i like everybody, i won’t hurt you)  MMMM…NOTHING…NO RESPONSE, NO TOUCHING, NOT EVEN A LOOK.  I move my left paw onto his right forearm and let it relax.  (ahhhh, i saw that, you looked into my brown eyes, you know i am here)  SUCCESS! SKATER-DUDE HAS TOUCHED ME, HE HAS LOOKED AT ME.  Border collies like to be successful at their job.  And this is a true story.

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