Reading dog helps non-verbal kids find their words

By  | 
View Map

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Swivel Shot, the Golden Retriever Pooddle mix, is capable of reading English and using her skills to help kids who are non-verbal.

Swivel Shot the reading dog.

For the past two years, Swivel Shot and her owner, Sheila Barrett, have been visiting Mrs. Garvey-Pabon's lifeskills class to help the children through a series of tasks including brushing the dog's teeth, reading a book to Swivel Shot, hiding a toy and directing Swivel Shot to find it and also watching Swivel Shot read.

Mrs. Garvey-Pabon says when she tells people a dog who reads visits her classroom, she usually gets a look of confusion.

"I have to explain it's words that the kids show her and that she does them," says Garvey-Pabon.

Barrett holds up a sign with a command written on it like sit, stand, down or woof, and then Swivel Shot recognizes the word and performs the command.

The children in the class range from first grade to 5th grade and all have varying levels of communication skills. Barrett, a retired kindergarten teacher, says even if a child does not say a word during the 45 minute weekly class she stills see's progress.

"You have their attention. That's the most exciting," says Barrett. "You know hopefully the words will come."

Barrett visits the school on her own time as a volunteer. Just this week she was among 13 Alaskans awarded a 2016 First Lady's Volunteer of the Year Award from Donna Walker.

Swivel Shot and Barrett also visit military veterans at the Chris Kyle Patriots Hospital and the elderly at the Pioneer Home.

You can see Swivel Shot and Barrett at the Alaska Botanical Gardens this summer during Story Time in the Garden. The event is free and held from 11 am to noon on June 16, July 21 and August 18. To learn more click here.

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus