Dogs are amazing creatures! They provide unconditional love, do not discriminate, judge, laugh, or criticize, and they are excellent and attentive listeners. They encourage relaxation, lower blood pressure, and brighten affect. These characteristics help to make pet-assisted therapy a natural fit for children and adolescents, and students in North Carolina's Orange County Schools will happily agree!
One of the first pet-assisted therapy programs in schools, R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) focuses on reading and was introduced several years ago in the west by Intermountain Therapy Animals. The concept spread throughout the country and there are now a variety of programs and models that work with children at school and in libraries (See Spot Read, Tail-Wagging Tutors, etc.). Pets are now being used in many ways in education settings and even help to relax students studying for exams at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.