We rescued Louie from death row at a local shelter about 4 years ago. He is 80 pounds of wrinkley couch potato and that is where he spends the majority of his time. Apparently, it is Lou’s life dream to be a dog the size of a chihuahua and he conducts himself accordingly. When he is not snoring on the couch, he can be found attempting to climb into any lap that he can find.
Louie is deeply loved by a little boy. He patiently plays the part of Super Dog to my son’s Spiderman, Yoda to his Luke SkyWalker and Dr. Rockwell to his Donatello. It is a bond that every dog should have with his person and I love to watch them together. Louie also provides silent encouragement to my son when it comes to reading. While my son gets frustrated fairly quickly when working with me on reading exercises, there is something about the reassuring presence of Louie that puts my son at ease.
My dream with this blog is to one day implement Reading with Rescues programs here locally. I see how much more confident my son is when he reads to Louie and it is so encouraging. Child Literacy scores in Louisiana are alarmingly low. According to savethechildren.org, 77% of fourth graders in the state of Louisiana scored below proficient in reading achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. 77%!!!!!! When I began my literacy research I was completely shocked by this number. What in the world? How is this possible in 2017?
I was in for more shock when I headed over to the ASPCA website and discovered that 7.6 MILLION companion animals are in the shelters nationwide currently. 7.6 MILLION. Let that number sink for a moment. Out of that number, 2.7 million end up being euthanized. Animal Cruelty is at an all time high, not only in our state but across the nation. I know there is no quick fix for either issue when you are dealing with numbers of this magnitude, but I feel that a Reading to Rescues Program would help children who are struggling build confidence in their reading ability while also providing much needed exposure for the shelter dogs who desperately need homes. I am not a literacy expert. I do not have all the answers. I am a working mom trying to maintain a happy family and raise my son to be healthy, compassionate, educated and kind. But, I am a firm believer that big things can start from the passion ignited by one person. It starts here. With one. (shelter image cred: google)
Please reach out to your local schools and animal shelters and ask how you can help. We can not release a generation of young people out in to the world who can not read. This is 2017. We have the knowledge, we have the tools, we have the resources. We should all be fired up over this. As far as the animals go, they also have my heart. You can not look a dog in the eye and not see that they are full of emotion. When Lou wakes me up with big, slobbery kisses in the morning it always brings a smile to my face. When he sits patiently by my son’s side, whether it is to be read to or to be dressed up like a ninja, I sometimes still see him in his kennel at the pound. Alone, sad, shaking, uncertain of what was to come. I know what I say may be passed over and may not matter in the grand scheme of things, but to Louie it mattered greatly. It just takes one. One light, one voice, one kind gesture and the impacts of that act can be so far reaching. Will you be that one?