PETS | SEPTEMBER 29, 2009 | BY: SUSAN NC PRICESit Stay Read (www.sitstayread.org), a not-for-profit organization founded and based in Chicago, focuses on increasing the literacy rate of schoolchildren. The program, provided free of charge to Chicago public schools and community facilities serving low-income families, uses dogs as a tool to both improve reading skills and foster the love of learning in children who’ve been having trouble reading. Sit Stay Read provides programming both during school hours as well as special weekend events.
Through a curriculum designed with the Center for Literacy, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Sit Stay Read’s trained volunteers and certified dog teams make reading fun by having children read aloud to dogs. This helps build the child’s confidence because dogs are very uncritical listeners. The process has been proven by increased reading word count per minute for children participating in the program.
The Chicago-based pet-sitting company Out-U-Go! is a Sit Stay Read corporate partner, helping increase the program’s reach in the Chicago area. David Lipschultz, Top Top Dog of Out-U-Go! says, “Out-U-Go! became interested in the mission of Sit Stay Read at a dog-friendly event in Spring 2009. “Since then,” he says, “we have started building a relationship with the organization based on our shared interest in literacy initiatives.” Out-U-Go! will be hosting a fundraiser for the program soon.
Lindsay Keiling runs the South Loop-Hyde Park Out-U-Go! location with her dogs
with her dogs Cloe, a border collie mix, and Milhouse, a Pembroke Welsh corgi (shown here).
The top photo shows Aschley Hopkins of Naperville Out-U-Go! with her two dogs,
black-and-white Berkeley Moon and Libbey Belle. The Naperville franchise covers
pet families in Naperville, Lisle, Warrenville, Winfield, Wheaton, and Glen Ellyn.
How does Sit Stay Read find dogs to work with? MaryEllen Schneider, Executive Director of Sit Stay Read explains that the program conducts many outreach events to recruit dogs and their owners to participate in their program. . But canine candidates for the program need to show more than just a friendly tail-wag. A good canine candidate is well-mannered, enjoys people (especially children), and must be reliable—because you never know what’ll happen when you put kids and dogs together. Dogs must pass the Sit Stay Read Dog Team test with their handler. If you think your dog would be a good fit for Sit Stay Read, the test is available at www.sitstayread.org.
Ms. Schneider says, “We are very fortunate to have a partner in Out-U-Go! as we work to increase Sit, Stay, Read’s impact throughout Chicago and beyond. Out-U-Go! shares our commitment to helping more children read.”
Sit Stay Read’s corporate partner Out-U-Go! started in 1996, when a working pet parent decided to provide professional personalized dog walking and pet-sitting for working professionals and busy families. Out-U-Go! staff treat each pet like their own pet and each pet parent like a favorite neighbor, to make life better for pets and their people. The company prides itself on providing not only pet specialists to care for your animals, but giving the pets cared for the very best in terms of love and care. Out-U-Go! provides dog walking, taxi service to get your pet to or from the vet or groomer while you’re at work, pet sitting for a wide range of animals…. And, always, friendly attention—everything the home alone dog and cat would like.