Therapy dog helping Stokes County elementary students with reading

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WALNUT COVE, N.C. -- Students who struggle with reading at London Elementary School are getting some help from man's best friend.

Benson, a 6-year-old therapy dog, started this week lending his ear to students.

"When they read to the dog they are not getting judged and they're feeling accomplished," said Principal Kristi Mitchell. "When they go before their peers, their confidence is built up because they know they can do it because they did it for Benson."

Benson went through a year of training before first starting as a therapy dog in assisted living facilities three months ago. Though therapy dogs have been successful in larger school districts, Benson is the first to be used in the Stokes County School System.

"For a lot of struggling readers, reading isn't fun," said Benson's handler Pam Davis, who hopes more people with therapy dogs will volunteer to help struggling students. "We have a lot of good dogs around and mostly it's finding people who are free to come during school hours and who are willing to put in the time to train the dog."

Therapy dogs can also help students who may not struggle with a certain subject.

"Even students that excel at reading would benefit from reading to Benson," said Mitchell. "It helps them with projecting their voice and talking in front of others."