Danny the Reading Dog has won my heart, and Emma’s too! Emma [Hawthrone, Client Services Specialist with Better World Books UK] and I were lucky enough to visit Danny, a lovable blue and white greyhound with a heart-warming story. Danny was found wandering the streets of Cork, Ireland, and rescued by Tony Nevitt. He is now a therapy ‘listening dog’ transforming the lives of many children through the Kennel Club ‘Bark & Read’ programme, which is an innovative way to help children get excited about reading. Danny and Tony asked us, at Better World Books, if we would donate a pallet of books to Maplefields Academy, a school in Corby Northamptonshire where they both spend a lot of time helping the children gain confidence in reading.
Emma and I are both serious dog lovers so we were delighted to visit Danny and hear about his work. Danny, smartly dressed in his therapy reading dog waist coat, and Tony met Emma and myself in the school reception of Maplesfield Academy. Danny, stayed calm while Emma and I got ridiculously excited and showered him with lots of cuddles and kisses, before leading us through the school to the library. The library is a warm and friendly space where the children are able to come and relax and read to Danny. Danny has a special sofa, which is decorated with Danny cushions, and where the children are rewarded with dog cuddles while reading to this special dog. Today was our turn! We cuddled up with Danny on the sofa and learned about how Tony first became involved with the ‘Bark & Read’ programme with his first dog, Scott, also a greyhound, and how important Danny is to the children at Maplesfield. The Academy is a specialist school that caters for pupils aged 5 to 18 years with severe social emotional and mental health difficulties. The children like reading to dogs such as Danny because (in the words of one student) “they don’t answer back and they don’t give you a hard time.” The children know that Danny won’t criticise or judge when listening to them. Tony adds, “If the children don’t want to read in class, or they don’t want to read to a teacher – if they read to Danny at least they are learning to read.”
Danny is now a celebrity and has received much recognition and many awards. He has been on TV; appeared in dog magazines worldwide; and he has been honoured by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Danny has also won the The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Amazing Animal award for his work as a listening dog, helping children improve their reading skills.
Danny does amazing work with the children and Emma and I were thrilled to be able visit him and hear about his work. It’s great that Better World Books has been able to help out by donating loads of books that Danny can give out and listen to on his sofa with the children at Maplesfield.