Our mission is to bring comfort to children, to enhance the experience of learning, and to enrich the lives of our canine and human volunteers.

Bring on the Dog Days of Summer (Part I)

Thanks to Karen Snyder and Fig Doylestown for this article! You can check out Fig’s website here.

It’s not really “news” that teachers – just like their students – count down the days until summer vacation.  Whether teacher or student, it doesn’t take long for most to get into the summer routine – eat, sleep, have a little fun, relax.  No problem!

Actually, it reminds me that I become much like my dogs in the summer time.  I think most dog lovers would agree that we harbor a secret jealousy when it comes to the “low key” lifestyle of our beloved pets.  The phrase “It’s a dog’s life” came about for reason.  Our dogs definitely know what our priorities should be.  Slow down, enjoy the company of others, play together, give lots of affection, and nap, and nap, and nap… (I’m good at that one!)

Teachers or not, we all deserve to rejuvenate ourselves and summer is the perfect time to do that, even for our dogs.  In fact, there’s one group of dogs who are definitely deserving of an extra bit of loving and relaxation this summer.  Those dogs would be our very own hometown Roxy Reading Therapy Dogs (RRTD).

As a local teacher, my students have benefitted from the patience, love, and affection these therapy dogs bring to the classroom.  Having an adoring, soft, furry friend to read to sure beats reading to your teacher! I have to say that it’s a highly-anticipated visit, especially for those children who may be reluctant readers.

Beyond the classroom and enhancing the learning experience, Roxy Reading Therapy Dogs also bring comfort to children in times of distress. Roxy Reading Courthouse Program provides specially trained therapy dog teams to soothe the fears of children in the Child and Youth Services system and minor victims of violent crimes.  Some of these children go directly into foster care after court hearing. The child’s interactions with a therapy dog provide much needed security and unconditional love dog during these stressful situations.  Following their visit, children are presented with a Roxy Puppy (stuffed animal) that extends the comfort and security with a cuddly stuffed puppy that they can cling to during their transition to foster care or wherever they are going.  In fact, this may be one of the only belongings the child has that day after being removed from their home!

Equally impressive are these hard-working, highly-trained dogs’ visits with children at medical facilities such as Della Penna Pediatric Center at Doylestown Health and Pedia Manor group home, as well as and in special education programs. RRTD customizes programs for medically fragile children in a hospital setting to help them enjoy the world outside their doors. Similar visits are made to special education classrooms, not for learning purposes, but to provide positive stimuli and interactions for children who may be grieving, challenged by multiple handicaps or cognitive disabilities, or to support children with Autism or Down’s Syndrome.

The accolades that this local organization, led by Founder and President Diane Smith, receive are well-earned and deserved.  Just look at these impressive stats:

• Roxy Reading has 70 certified therapy dog teams
• Roxy Reading’s therapy dogs are read to by 1,500 elementary school children per week in the Central Bucks School District
• There is no charge to any organization for their services

Clearly, there’s no surprise the Roxy Reading Therapy Dog organization recently received two local awards for their service.  Central Bucks School District Superintendent Dr. Weitzel and the Board recognized Roxy Reading Therapy Dogs for enhancing and supporting a positive, caring learning environment in Central Bucks elementary schools over the past ten years and presented them with a certificate.  Also, the VIA (Village Improvement Committee) honored RRTD with a “Community Recognition Award.”  (The VIA was founded to enhance and support the quality of life in Central Bucks County through service and education.)

Still, what’s most impressive to me about these hardworking dogs and their owners is that Roxy Reading is strictly a volunteer organization. Whether dog or owner, those who participate do so to simply bring joy and comfort to others. If that’s not a reason to deserve a little “R & R” this summer, I’m not sure what is!

In fact, Roxy Reading is dependent upon donations to continue their important and impressive work.  It is a 501c3 non-profit and relies solely on donations for expenses such as insurance, dog vests, “Roxy Puppies” stuffed animals, printing, etc.  Why not consider donating in honor or memory of your own favorite canine this summer?  There are many programs needing sponsorship.  Just visit: http://roxytherapydogs.org/donate/ Or, if you’d like to get involved and volunteer your time or talents with or without a therapy dog, please get in touch via the website.

So what will you and your dog be up to this summer? I would love to know more about what types of activities you do with your dog during the summer months.  Please leave me your comment!  And, stay tuned for Part II of my Dog Days of Summer blog to feature helpful information about summer dog health and care tips, and options for dog boarding/care as you enjoy your vacation this summer.

Let the “dog days” of summer officially begin!

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