Wes the Westminster Show Dog Helps Children Learn to Read and Write

More on PawNation: dog show, DogShow, labrador retrievers, therapy dogs, westminster dog show

boy reads with dogDeborah Glessner - Photographer

We all know how perfectly the show dogs at Westminster look and behave each year, but some of these dogs do more than work the ring -- they help change lives as therapy dogs. Wes, the Labrador retriever, is one of these amazing dogs. And he's starting by "teaching" children.

This champion black Lab from Richboro, Pa., specializes in helping children in grades 2 through 5 learn to read. In fact, he "teaches" at 12 schools through the school year and during the summer, and works with school and camp programs for autistic and learning-disabled children. In addition, the 8-year-old dog visits his local library once a week for a "read to the dogs evening."

How Can a Dog Help a Child Read?
Wes has never cracked a book but he provides something struggling readers need -- he's the perfect supportive listener, says his owner Wendi Huttner. "He helps create a comforting, relaxing atmosphere for the children," she says. "Wes doesn't laugh or tease -- he's completely nonjudgmental."

Wes usually sits with or lies beside the children while they read, sometimes placing his head in their laps or offering a paw. He even wags his tail and gives encouraging licks to keep the reader going.

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