Erik the dog proving a great listen for John Wollaston Anglican Community School students


Erik the Story Dog, Erik’s handler Sam Pilgrim-Byrne and John Wollaston student Lachlan Bydder. Picture: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne
Erik the Story Dog, Erik’s handler Sam Pilgrim-Byrne and John Wollaston student Lachlan Bydder. Picture: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne

A CUTE, small and furry little dog called Erik is putting his great listening skills to good use with the young students at John Wollaston Anglican Community School.

Erik and his handler Sam Pilgrim-Byrne visit the Year 2 students every week to give them a chance to read to the dog in a judgement free and relaxed environment.

Erik and Ms Pilgrim-Byrne are one of the teams from not-for-profit organisation Story Dogs, whose aim is to make reading fun for children and turn them into confident and lifelong readers.

Ms Pilgrim-Byrne said a student would spend approximately 20 minutes reading one-on-one with Erik, adding that having an animal around while they learned helped to promote relaxation, lowered fears of being laughed at or criticised and gave the children the chance to work at their own pace.

John Wollaston ACS primary inclusive education coordinator Michelle Willis said the students always looked forward to Erik’s visits and they had improved their literacy skills.

Ms Pilgrim-Byrne said each story dog team cost $500 a year to run and while the Success-based WA Veterinary and Emergency Specialists (WAVES) helped with herself and Erik, more than 50 per cent of teams were without this vital support.

Anyone interested in volunteering as a team or sponsoring a team can visit www.storydogs.org.au.

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