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How often haven’t we talked about pet therapy and the many benefits cats and dogs offer to the old and young alike. But sometimes roles need to be inverted, sometimes it’s the kids who need to go to kennels to help the many dogs and cats who are anxiously waiting to be adopted, pets who are lonely and need some warm love from humans because they don’t have a family of their own.

“Once upon a time…” is how all fairy tales begin, and the Shelter Buddies Reading Program is no exception. The project is conceived by the Humane Society of Missouri, in the USA, and was experimented for the first time at a kennel in St. Louis.

The stars of this particular fairy tale is a group of kids aged 7 to 14 (and no one is more sensitive and loyal than they are!) who decided to spend their afternoons at the local kennel to help abandoned and mistreated dogs regain trust in human beings. They read fairy tales to them to calm them and encourage them to socialize peacefully.

Helping dogs be less fearful is a very important task and should not be underestimated, because when they feel safer they will be more likely to approach the partition at the kennel to greet potential new owners, get noticed and, hopefully, adopted into a warm and loving home.

“We decided to try reading to them outside their cage. It was something that provided them with company without threatening them with direct physical contact”, the project promoters explained, excited by the success they are having.

Adoptions have gone up some 30%, and so it comes as no surprise that this experiment is being tried at other kennels all over America. It’s well known that sometimes all dogs need is a bit of attention, some tender loving care, to completely change their behaviour.

Let’s hope that this example can be adopted here in Italy as well, both to increase the number of adoptions and to get dogs accustomed to being with children so that they can…live happily ever after! An ending all dogs deserve.


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