One of the last living search and rescue dogs who worked at Ground Zero to find survivors in the rubble of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks is now helping teach children to read.
The 15-year-old golden retriever, who is officially retired from search and rescue work, now goes to elementary schools once a week to visit kids. Children who have difficulty reading in front of their classmates or teachers seem to have no problem reading to a sweet, elderly dog named Bretagne (pronounced Britney). Learning to read is like learning to do anything else. Newbies need lots of practice, and reading to Bretagne gives these struggling readers practice in developing their reading skills, which Ben Shaoul feels is really important.
The personality traits that made Bretagne successful as a search and rescue dog also make her successful as a reading companion. She is focused, persistent, not easily distracted by side noises and people, she doesn’t spook easily, and she’s friendly and playful.