A Chihuahua Bonds With Children | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

A Chihuahua Bonds With Children 

click to enlarge bookworms1-1-d009151d489b8c9f.jpg

On a breezy April morning, Gail Peck sits down on a comfortable couch at Little One's University in Essex with a 5-year-old girl, a picture book and Superhero — a tiny black-and-white Chihuahua with enormous ears. Tucked beneath the girl's arm is a stuffed horse. "When I was little, I loved horses so much, I thought I could grow up and become a beautiful black horse," Peck tells the girl.

Fortunately for the 80 kids at this childcare center and preschool, Peck became an early education teacher instead. After 40 years of teaching, the mother of three grown children now works a shorter early-morning shift at Little One's University to help ease the transition from home to school for the earliest arrivals.

Two years ago, Peck decided to adopt a service dog to help with her medical needs. She enlisted the kids at the childcare center to help her choose a pup and asked the center's owner if she could bring the dog with her to school. "It's really good for children to have animals, be responsible and take care of them," she explains. When the Texas-born rescue dog arrived in Vermont, the puppy's first stop was Little One's University.

click to enlarge bookworms1-2-52e0bb5d13fe028b.jpg

As the kids and teachers settle into the day's routine, Peck and Hero, as the dog is called for short, settle into a quiet corner of the entry area and spend one-on-one time with kids. A boy gives Hero a sausage treat, and they sit close together as Peck reads Jon Klassen's This Is Not My Hat. The next visitor, a young girl, is so familiar with her book choice — Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton — that she recites the story confidently from memory while turning the pages.

Peck rewards the children with both encouragement and a journal and pen. "Next time around," she says, "maybe you can read a story you wrote to Hero."

Peck says she would love to see other schools offer the simple and centering activity of reading with dogs. Acknowledging how much Hero has given to her personally, she notes how children's struggles touch her heart. A dog, she says, "can help make the bad times better."


This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation