Jack’s Journal: Max the Reading Dog

Max loves going to school! Max is a dog, his human’s name is John.

Today they are at Betsie Valley Elementary School in Benzie County.

What is Max’s task?  Listening!

“Beginning readers are reluctant to begin with, so the more opportunities to practice reading the better,” said Aimee Erfourth, principal at Betsie Valley Elementary School.

Max and John are read to by children from pre-school to the 4th grade.

As a trained therapy dog, Max and John are nonjudgmental. If it take a little extra time to read the story, or if John can help with a word or two, that’s just fine.

“Just really helps the kids build up the self-esteem,” explained Aimee.

John retired from the auto industry 15 years ago and began working with therapy dogs.

After moving to the area three years ago, he has been visiting Betsie Valley and Crystal Valley Elementary each week as Max’s chaperone!

There was the one time, because of illness, John missed two weeks when he got a phone call.

“One of the students wanted to know if my dog was O.K. They weren’t concerned with me, they wanted to know about my dog!” said John Kundel.

Both Max and John are loving and patient with the kids, and the young ones love their time with them.

This program not only pays off educationally, it helps emotionally, too.

There was the time one young student was having a rough day and acting out.

“He saw Max and he gravitated to him. He was petting him.  Max really calmed him down. Then he was excited, he heard he had an opportunity to read with Max, so he started turning things around because he wanted that time with Max,” explained Aimee.

Max might not understand the words, but he loves the attention and being loved on, and so do the kids!

Categories: Jack’s Journal