This is our family dog Poppy. Having turned two she has been an adored addition to our household since she was an 11-week old pup sourced from a farm in Bendigo. Poppy is not a show dog or a pure breed. On the contrary, she is what we call a “bitsa” – landing her in the “never to be repeated” one-off special.
Along with her genes, Poppy’s personality is also mixed(up). She has the wag of a Golden Retriever, the stamina of a Border Collie and the ball obsession of a Kelpie all rolled into one medium sized canine. She also lets out the biggest belches and burps after a meal that would make any four-year-old at a birthday party guzzling lemonade for the first time envious.
Poppy would have fitted in perfectly on a farm rounding-up sheep or as an onsite Tradie’s dog, however her main daily activities revolve around her two runs a day in the park while trying to work-out how to get along with an elderly male cat called Brewster.
There is however another side to Poppy which classifies her as a working dog, but in a totally unique way. With the help of my wife Kate, Poppy earlier this year became an accredited Story Dog. Story Dogs is a wonderful charity formed in 2009 designed to offer Year 2 students across Australia with learning difficulties, improve their reading ability by allowing them to read one-on-one to the dog and their handler.
Story Dogs Mission is simple. “To make reading fun for children, so they become confident lifelong readers. No child should be left behind in literacy.” To quote their website “Animals such as dogs are ideal reading companions because they promote relaxation and lower blood pressure, do not judge, laugh, or criticise and allow children to proceed at their own pace.”
Story Dogs help over 1465 children each week. They have 293 volunteer Dog Teams in 154 schools in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and the ACT, however only 157 Teams are sponsored, representing 54%. They really are the unsung heroes making a positive contribution to improving reading literacy for children in need.
It was an easy decision to sponsor Poppy through Story Dogs for $500.00 a year. Through my company, Epicus International, we are proud to be a part of Story Dogs and putting a true working dog to use. Sometimes it is the simplest of ideas that can have profound positive impact on children’s lives.
I would encourage anyone who is inspired by the wonderful, positive action being undertaken by Story Dogs to contact them and help in any way you can. I feel there would be many Corporate business’ who might be seeking their next charity of choice who could make a supportive contribution to Story Dogs and allow them to continue to expand the program into more schools throughout Australia.
Poppy has four children at the local Primary school in Melbourne who read to her. One teacher commented to me that she has already seen a profound improvement in the reading and overall confidence of one of her students since Story Dogs has been in operation at the school over the past year. Imagine what affect all the Story Dogs across Australia are doing on a weekly basis.
If this has inspired you to help further, please contact your local Story Dogs Co-ordinator in your state to find out how you can further help this wonderful charity.