WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Will Glassman turned the page in his book, and Turtle the reading assistance dog looked over in anticipation, fulfilling his duties in the Westborough Public Library's third Paws for Reading program.
"It's been very good so far," said children's librarian Dottie Hurley, who handles the sign-ups. "The kids enjoy it, and it's helpful for the kids who need to gain some confidence in their reading."
The four-week program that pairs each reader with a dog is being held in the Forbes Municipal Building across the street from the library due to ongoing construction. Children in grades 1 to 3 were elegible to sign up.
One of the main perks, according to Lisa Freeman: Dogs don't judge.
"Individually we need to train our dogs and make sure they have the right temperament," said Freeman, a veterinarian at Tufts who organized the dogs and handlers for the program. "They're not judgemental, so kids who aren't confident in their reading — they can read to a dog."
Freeman said studies have been done, including one at Tufts, that showed a positive correlation between reading attitude and aptitudes after participating in the program.
The children could choose among of dozens of animal-themed books to read to their dogs. Freeman's dog, new to the program, was a small Corgi named Penny. Others included a Newfoundland named Lumber and a lab named Taxsi, "the old pro," according to Freeman.
"It's safe and non-stressful," Freeman said. "It's really amazing what the animals can do for people."