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Therapy Dogs Helping Kids With Dyslexia Gain Confidence Reading

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) -- There are estimates that 5 to 15 percent of school children have dyslexia.

As Mike Schuh reports, one school has a simple, warm and furry solution to getting kids comfortable with learning to read.

Listen closely, and you'll hear an animal roaming the halls of The Jemicy School.

Their official mascot may be the moose, but the unofficial one just might be Genni the lab.

Genni and Sheera, a student who has dyslexia, are in the library to read.

Reading is a challenge, and really, who likes to read aloud in front of people?

But Sheera doesn't mind--as long as her buddy, Genni, is nearby.

"Having a dog to read to as she shared is something that's comforting because a dog doesn't pass judgement. Dogs are non-judgmental," said Megan McGowen, head of The Jemicy lower school. "Children aren't embarrassed when they have a miscue or misread something because the dog is just happy to be read to and have attention."

Teacher Beth MacMillan's class is about to get a treat. Genni has run of the school--dog breath and all. Instantly, the kids relax.

"For some of our children, just having that dog lay across their lap and having something to stroke as they're trying to do this task that is very difficult, it just provides this added layer of comfort," said McGowen.

Genni is certified by Therapy Dog International out of New Jersey.

Admissions Assistant Carey Mitchell is Genni's owner and got her certified as a therapy dog.

But she has company. There are two other such dogs on campus.

They are the teachers who don't say a word.

"When I read to Genni she doesn't stop me and say 'No, you read that word wrong,'" Sheera said.

Another staffer at that school has a dog in training, so the fourth therapy dog may soon roam the halls.

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