The Healing Power of Reading: Children & Old Dogs Unite


Reading Dr. Seuss with Oreo (Spaniel).

This piece was written by Larry Downs, Director & Publisher, Origen

In a heartwarming sanctuary called Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, a remarkable bond is being forged between children and a group of special, older canine residents. This sanctuary, where the twilight years of a dog’s life are embraced with love and compassion, has become a place where children come to read to the dogs, and in the process, discover the transformative power of storytelling. 

Terrier is Icicle.

I was introduced to this amazing home for dogs through my daughter. She just happens to have, along with an amazing team there, the enviable job of loving on and caring for hundreds of elderly canines. One day she sent me a picture of a little girl reading to one of her dogs via Skype. Another day a picture of a young boy with dyslexia tucked into a quiet corner with a massive Mastiff named Dixie Do resting her head on his lap as she patiently listened to him read. 

What makes this sanctuary truly exceptional is its commitment to inclusivity. Many of the children who visit have reading disabilities, and the dogs serve as nonjudgmental, patient listeners. For those who may feel intimidated by reading aloud in a classroom, these dogs become their trusted audience, instilling a sense of confidence and belonging. 

Hound is called Sadie.

The beauty of reading lies not only in the words on the page but in the connection it fosters between young readers and their four-legged companions. As the children read, the dogs sit by their side, offering a comforting presence. It’s a serene tableau of empathy, where the healing power of words transcends human and canine boundaries. 

In a world where the magic of reading often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life, this sanctuary stands as a testament to the enduring beauty of stories. It reminds us that the simple act of reading, coupled with compassion and understanding, can create bonds that transcend age and ability, proving that there is always room for heartwarming stories, whether on the page or in the embrace of an old, loving dog. 



Posted: January 8, 2024