Dogs Are Nonjudgmental
|Dogs Are Nonjudgmental|
Dogs do not ask us why we didn’t get a promotion. They don’t ask us why we don’t have a bigger house or a new car. They don’t ask for anything superficial. Instead, in caring for them, dogs reinforce our basic sense of personal capability and the irrelevance of much of what we compete for.
SARA HAS SOMETHING of an unusual task. Her main job is to sit quietly and listen to children read. Children tell their teachers that Sara really likes it when they read to her. More important, Sara is unlikely to make a face if they stumble over a word. That could be because Sara is a dog. Sara makes the rounds of Dayton-area elementary schools because teachers have found that young readers do better with an audience, but only an audience that is accepting. “The worst thing you can do to a child just starting to read is to make them focus strictly on their mistakes,” says Alice, a reading teacher. “If children think all anybody is paying attention to is when they mispronounce a word or don’t recognize a word, then they will fear reading, and they will try to avoid reading. And then you have a cycle that goes from bad to worse.” Teachers have found that reading to Sara gives children the chance to practice reading familiar stories out loud without feeling bored and to try out new stories without feeling nervous.
“And it’s really quite amazing because Sara is as real an audience to them as any group of people would be,” Alice says. “But Sara never embarrasses them, never makes them feel uncomfortable. Instead of reading being a threat, Sara helps the children to see it as a joy. And that makes all the difference.”
Two groups of people were asked to describe their lives. The first group included dog owners who were with their dogs. The second group was made up of people who did not own a dog. The first group was 14 percent less likely to respond to the question negatively, and 23 percent less likely to complain about their job or salary. (Glucksman 2005)