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Danny

Danny

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Published by Tony Nevett

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Published by: Tony Nevett on Sep 07, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/16/2012

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Read to the Dog
Not all dogs get the chance to show quite how cleverthey are. Danny the Greyhound did. His is a rags toriches story. Found homeless, wandering the streetsand scavenging or scraps in Cork, Ireland, he rose toame as a Reading Education Assistance Dog (READ),and won IFAW Dog o the Year Amazing Animal award, which he received at the House o Lords, presented by Brian May, ollowed by lunch, biscuits and a goodie bag.A meteoric rise, rom homeless indigent to Westminster,10 Downing Street, star o V, doggie magazines andnewspapers. Still the same modest creature, he now  visits libraries and schools, where he listens to childrenreading. He’s a big, white springy dog with a big grey patch on his ace, grey, perked up ears, bright, intenteyes and a chirpy look, and he’s visiting Mapleeldsschool in Corby with his owner and trainer, ony Nevett.Mapleelds is a brand new academy or SEN children,surrounded by a high wire ence, every gate or door needsa special security pass, but what does a dog care aboutall that? He’s got his own security pass and everyone’spleased to see him - most o all, the children. Owner ony Nevett has a degree in Animal AssistedTerapy and trained the rst READ dog in England.Danny is the third, and
“he’s a very special dog. People say to me “Why do the kids like him?” 
I say 
“because hedoesn’t judge. He builds a bond, he gives them condence. He’s never hurt the children [as some adults have]. Teir  shouting and kicking-o doesn’t bother him, or the tail and ear pulling. He doesn’t respond to that at all. Look at him. He wouldn’t hurt a fy. Te children love Dannyto bits, Tey know when he’s due in.’ 
 We have a little stroll around the school, around thecurvy corridors, in and out o the classrooms and gym,past the ime Out rooms (or children who need to beout o class or a bit) Te sot play rooms (where they can’t hurt themselves, everyone saying
“Hallo Danny!’ 
A weeping teacher passes us holding her ace. She’sbeen punched. errible roaring and screaming comesrom one o the ime Out rooms. In go Danny and ony.Te screaming stops. Ater a ew minutes, out they come. Te screaming starts again. Nothing phases thismiraculous dog.A boy asks to take his lead in the corridor. He looks likea good boy, holding the dog’s lead.
“I you tell them theywon’t see the dog i they misbehave, then they behave.” “Danny works wonders,” 
says one o the teachers.
“As soon as they see him, their aces change. He calms themdown.” 
And he does. Up comes a cross little boy witha tight, red ace. He strokes the dog, and hey presto, asmile and the angry red ush disappears. Chidren callout to Danny as he passes, and rush over to stroke him.Te mood lightens. Another boy takes him by his leadgoing along the corridor.ony asks
“Where are you going?” “I’m going to heaven,’ 
says he.It’s in the library that Danny gets really clever. He sitson some cushions and in come the children, one at atime, they choose a book, sit down next to the dog andstart reading out loud.Danny gets no instructions, but he knows exactly how to treat each one o them – dances and twirls aroundto perk up a sad one, lies down to calm down a jittery one, kisses a peaky looking tatty one who probably badly needs a kiss (“His home lie is crap. See his shoes?Tey’re all busted. His mother has a diferent ‘Uncle ‘round every night.’” He keeps away rom a nervous one,gets close to the one that needs a cuddle, and they alllook angelic in his presence, some leaning on him, andstart reading – no hesitating, no sel-consciousness.Do they like reading to Danny more than the teachers?Yes.
“Other dogs bark when you’re reading. Danny just listens,’ 
”says one little boy.
‘We had a Jack Russell and aSt Bernard, We had to get rid o the St Bernard, becausehe dribbled and punctured our ootballs.’” 
It can be a tough world or dogs out there, but here in theLibrary Danny is King: He has his own bed with Danny print cushion, Danny photos on the wall with varioussmiling, cuddling children, a painting o Danny – doneby a lady who paints with her mouth, and on the shelvesa book about Danny. . ‘Danny goes to London’, Te story o his ‘Amazing Animal Award award. ’In comes a small boy, Kaikia. Danny kisses his hand.
“He’s your riend,’ 
”says ony.
“He likes you.” 
Danny givesthe boy another kiss.
“Tat’s how much he loves me,”’ 
says Kaikia, and starts reading straight away. In comesEmma, she’s not so keen on dogs, she sits a little way a way. Danny stays where he is. No kissing. Emma readsnon-stop and very well. Tey don’t read like that inclass, but are model children with the dog. Impeccablebehaviour rom all o them.. But through the wall youcan hear loud screaming and banging coming romone o the little ime Out rooms outside. Danny’s notbothered at all by screeching and banging
“I they kick o, he just lies on the foor.” “He used to be very aggressive i you went near hisdinner, because he’d been living on the streets. Out therehe had to protect his own ood. Te vet told me to run my ngers through his ood, so that it smelled o me. Tenhe didn’t mind any more. He has Weetabix and milk or breakast. And whatever we’re eating – bee, Yorkshire pudding. He has some dry dog ood. I add other things toit. Look at his dirty ace! He’s had spaghetti bolognaise.
Tis dog is a saint. He also donates blood to a dog bloodbank every six months. He just lies down, they give hima biscuit aterwards. No tea. He doesn’t get paid or it.Te vets pay, and that covers the costs. And the KennelClub unds his work reading with children. It’s ree tothe schools.
“It works well, why don’t they do it more?’ asks ony, “with a barrel o brandy round their necks or the teachers. Ha ha.” 
ANHONY NEVE tonynevett@yahoo.co.ukcont/.

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