Last week I had my first Roxy Reading experience in the classroom. Maggie, a long-time Roxy volunteer who brings one of her two labs to Linden every week, was nice enough to let me accompany her into the first grade reading support room she visits every week. Chloe, her three year old yellow lab, accompanied her for the day. I’ve heard wonderful things about the influence of Roxy dogs in the classroom, but seeing it first hand was amazing.
Maggie and her dogs make weekly visits to a first grade reading support classroom. Even before we reached the classroom, the excitement of Chloe’s visit was apparent; faculty members stopped in the hallway to greet us, and the office staff had treats on hand for Chloe’s arrival. Maggie and her dogs have been visiting the same classroom for eight years, and they have clearly become part of the Linden family.
The teacher we were visiting brought one of her students along and picked us up from the office to escort us to her classroom. The sweet little girl was ecstatic to see Chloe, and the excitement was mutual. The joy continued when we reached the classroom; even though there were only four students in the group, it must have seemed like many more to Chloe, who was immediately surrounded with hugs and ear-scratches. The “Please Pet Me” message on Chloe’s Roxy Reading bandana was clearly taken to heart, and a framed photo of Chloe and her doggy sister in the classroom made it even more apparent how appreciated these dogs are at Linden.
The reading started almost immediately. Maggie and her dog settled down in a comfy corner in the back of the room, and kids came over one-by-one to sit with Chloe and read aloud for a few minutes. Two little girls, obviously excited to get their turn with Chloe, read excerpts from Dr. Seuss books. I was surprised and delighted to learn that they had made an enormous amount of progress since the beginning of the year. The two of them used to be not only mildly nervous around the friendly yellow labs, but unable to read books with more than three or four words per page. Now, just a few months later, they snuggled up to Chloe and worked their way through the silly, complicated language of Dr. Seuss. It’s amazing to me how much comfort and confidence just a few weeks of reading with Roxy dogs has brought them.
In addition to the rest of the students in the class, a few students from last year’s class came back to visit and read with Chloe. Both Maggie and the teacher told me about how much progress each child had made, and how much more confident each one was. It was heartwarming to see not only how excited the students were for their few minutes with Chloe, but also how happy the Roxy team was to spend their hour at Linden. Maggie and Chloe are not just visitors to Linden, but a part of the school that everyone is happy to welcome in once a week. They are undeniably a positive learning and mood influence in the classroom.