SHARE A Book Spotlight

Volunteer Kathie Meier and her four Bernese Mountain dogs have been instrumental in the success of MHS’s SHARE (Special Human-Animal Relationships) a Book program.

Working closely with teachers, reading specialists and librarians, SHARE a Book helps children improve their literacy skills and offers them an opportunity to build confidence by reading to animals. Volunteers teach their dogs to look at a book and use their paw to help, and some dogs will carry books or turn pages.

Kristie, Kathie’s first dog, was one of the original group of SHARE dogs who started the program at Mary Silveira Elementary School in January 2005. Says Kathie, “It was incredibly rewarding to watch the several children who were fearful of dogs become comfortable with them and then see their reading skills improve.” Next to volunteer was Gretl. “Nothing fazed her,” says Kathie. For three-and-a-half years Gretl delighted the children with her tricks, which included playing a Little Tykes piano with her nose.

Today, Holly and Charlotte are active volunteers. At just one-year-old, Charlotte hasn’t yet settled into being a reading buddy, but she’s plenty busy in our classroom education programs and summer camp. Kathie recalls one young girl Holly worked with named Maielle. While Holly helped Maielle improve her reading skills, Maielle trained Holly to be a great reading dog. “As we alternated tricks and training with reading, Maielle’s reading skills and concentration blossomed.”

“Kathie is generous, kind and compassionate with the children and her beautiful well-trained Berners are always a hit,” says Darlene Blackman, MHS community programs manager.

Your generous support for the Marin Humane Society helps fund important community programs like SHARE. Last year, 29 SHARE a Book volunteer teams conducted 3,865 reading sessions with children in our community.