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BaRK at Toronto Library

Updated: Aug 4, 2019

BaRK is a free eight-week program run by Lake Macquarie City Library to assist reluctant readers. Children practice reading aloud on a one-to-one basis to one of our therapy dogs.

3 year old Australian Shepherd, Spyro began visiting Toronto Library in July 2015 as part of the BaRK Program and has achieved some remarkable results!

Spyro's owner, Alison tells their story "In this picture Spyro is sitting with Jeremy who has been into the program twice! His mum now wants him to do it again next term for the third time, and basically it’s because he has improved his vocabulary and reading skills so much so that his teacher phoned his mum to remark on his improvement. Prior to BaRK, Jeremy HATED reading and basically refused to read. He wouldn’t join in the school reading group and would muck-up and disrupt the class. The first time he came to the library, he had a complete tantrum as he didn’t want to read and HATED the library. During his first visit to the BaRK program, Jeremy had a tantrum was tear-streaked and mulish, he refused a chair & sat down on the floor.

And then Spyro came over and introduced herself. I let him feed her some treats so she could shake hands with him, and before long he was giggling and cuddling her. He then sat with me, read a book, and week after week his comprehension improved. He became eager to read harder books and in some sessions we burn through two books, all the while he laughs and cuddles Spyro.

So we’ve gone from a child who refused to read and hated anything to do with reading, to now being advanced so far in his school’s literacy levels that his teacher phoned his mum to express her shock and happiness in his improvement. He told his mum now that he will only read as long as he can see Spyro, and they’ve formed quite a bond. When he is reading and not fidgeting, she lays down and sleeps next to him (often ON him) . But when he is being fidgety and distracted Spyro gets up and ignores him which he HATES, so he starts reading again and Spyro settles down again next to him.

Other children find Spyro very relaxing (she is the most mellow Australian Shepherd you could ever meet) and very gentle with the timid children. All of the children have improved over the 8 week program, and all of them are enthusiastic each week to spend their special time with their very own Delta dog (and often have photos taken with her to take to school for show and tell!)".

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