Dog helps Minnesota children read 'one tail at a time'

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A furry friend is helping some children in southern Minnesota practice their reading.

Repo, a black and white border collie, joined more than a dozen children at the Kasson Public Library Monday for the start of a weekly program called "Read with Repo," the Rochester Post Bulletin reports.

Repo is a registered therapy dog who specializes in listening to children – and adults – read. Repo also interacts with them to help encourage reading, the library said in a flier for the program.

"We got wonderful results, especially with struggling readers," Pat Shaffer-Gottschalk, who works at the library, told the newspaper of a similar program she had started at an elementary school in the state of Virginia. "If you're reading out loud and you stumble, the dog never laughs. They're accepting, loving and encouraging."

On Monday, when the children started to read aloud, Repo stretched out on the rug and happily listened to the children, the newspaper reports.

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The library says dogs are known to increase relaxation and lower blood pressure, as well as listen attentively and allow people to read at their own pace.

Repo's owner and trainer, Missi Roland, had previously worked with the READ (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) Dogs Minnesota program in Virginia, Minnesota, before bringing Repo to Kasson, the library says.

READ Dogs Minnesota, which started in 1999, is affiliated with the national READ organization, which hopes to improve the literacy of children through the use of therapy animals "one tail at a time," the organization's website says.

There are READ dogs volunteering at seven different library systems in the metro area. The Hennepin County Library system typically holds one READ event a week, which the library calls Paws to READ.

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