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Rosie to the Rescue | Therapy dog empowers young readers

Roger Hill and his therapy dog Rosie work with local third graders that are learning to read.

WYOMING, Mich. — She's no teacher's pet, but therapy dog Rosie and her human dad Roger Hill, are classroom favorites. 

The duo is working with local third graders to nurture their love of reading.

We spent the day with Shannon Hendgen's third grade reading class at West Elementary School in Wyoming to experience a lesson with Rosie. 

Hendgen's says allowing the students to read to Rosie builds confidence.

"Rosie provides opportunities for the kids to just practice reading out loud, in a non-threatening, lovable way," says Hendgens. "Dogs just have a natural way of putting the kids at ease."

Rosie is part of the Ruff Readers in West Michigan Program, through the West Michigan Therapy Dogs, Inc. Roger Hill rescued Rosie in 2017. The two have been working with Mrs. Hendgen's class for the past two year and Roger has been working with the program for the past seven years.


 "It took me eight months to find one dog that would settle into this situation," he said. "You can't just take any dog {into the classroom} it's got to have the right personality.".

Rosie and Roger visit the classroom as part of an ongoing program designed to improve reading skills for the annual standardized test, MSTEP. 

Third grader Jordan said he really enjoys having them in class. 

"I like to read to Rosie. I like to read to people too, but reading to a dog doesn't feel all judging and stuff," Jordan said. "Because when we read to people it feels kind of judging, like if I miss a word, they interrupt and say try it again."

Learn more about 13 Reads here. 

Hendgens said reading to Rosie has been a rewarding experience for the entire class and she credits Rosie for teaching all of the kids that reading is fun. 

"It's more than just reading to the kids, Roger has really adopted our class," she said.

For Roger, coming into the classroom and seeing how the kids respond positively to Rosie, makes each visit a "paw-some"' experience. 

"For me it's just exciting,"  Hill said. "I really don't know how to put it in words. It's just a feeling you have, to be able to do something for somebody."