Puppy Tales

For many years, the only meaning puppy tails had to me was a memory of finding a small plate of molded puppy tails, carefully covered with aluminum foil, in the back of my refrigerator. A prize worth saving, our young boys thought after watching their dad cut a new litter of French Brittany pups' tails. Josh, Zach and Seth ages 6 and under decided to save them when they were instructed to put them in the trash.

Our recent move to NW Iowa came with an invitation. The Okoboji School District had begun a program 3 years previous called "Puppy Tales". The grade school students' response to reading to a dog in school was most favorable with affirming comments from their parents, showing higher test scores in reading, and observing reading time became more FUN for all including students not so eager to read!!

Students entering Middle School had become familiar with "Puppy Tales" in the Grade School. After they entered 5th grade at the Middle School, the guidance counselor observed the need and desire for a dog to travel up the grades with them. He was looking for a dog to come to school and a volunteer that could stay with the dog and the students.

That is when we walked in.

Our daughter would be starting 5th grade in the Okoboji Middle School and on the school tour she shared all about her dog and our family business,Trinity Kennels. Her introduction to our kennel birthed a great conversation and I was inspired to help the guidance counselor fulfill his vision of having a dog available for the students in the Middle School.

I gave our daughter the task to train her dog. She began reading to her dog, Theo.

Our daughter began training Theo with a small rug for her dog's boundary, the command "story time", a treat for her dog after the book, and in just a few weeks it seemed our daughter's dog was ready for school. With a name like Theo we added "Miss" so that no one would be mistaken our daughter's French Brittany "Miss Theo" is a girl!

Miss Theo has become the Queen of the classroom.

Each student with a parental permission slip has 15 minutes with Miss Theo and they can read to her or ask me to read to them. Miss Theo knows when it is her school days. She eagerly jumps in the car excited to see the kids. The students learn proper ways to approach, pet, and handle a dog. Miss Theo has learned NO KISSING IN SCHOOL! The students giggle with delight when they see Miss Theo at school, greeting her at the front door or walking her down the hall, until it is their turn to cuddle up with Miss Theo and read her a good book.

There are days, when I wonder who likes the story more? "Miss Theo" or the student:)

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