The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Trainer, therapy dog visit library to encourage reading

 

February 26, 2018

Steve Newman/Daily Globe

JULIE DEROSIE and her service and therapy dog, Remington, wait at Wakefield Public Library on Saturday to read with children. Remington, a two-year old mixed breed dog, has been trained for various therapy situations, but loves to have children read with him.

By STEVE NEWMAN

news@yourdailyglobe.com

Wakefield - Julie DeRosie and her service and therapy dog, Remington, came to the Wakefield Public Library Saturday to listen to kids read. Remington is an enthusiastic 2-year old mixed-breed dog who has been trained by DeRosie to provide therapy for children and adults. DeRosie, a Bessemer resident, trained Remington, and they have been tested and certified by Pet Partners; a nationwide organization that seeks to improve human health and well-being through the human-animal bond.

DeRosie and Remington have a regular appointment at Gogebic Medical Care Facility and Westgate nursing homes, as well as Aspirus Ironwood Hospital. But their weekly highlight is going to Washington Elementary School in Bessemer. There they participate in a program called "Read With Remington," where students come and sit and read storybooks to Remington.

While it may seem to not make sense to read to a dog, it is great practice for children, and the students who may not read well have found support and courage to learn to read better through the practice. The children come into a special room with DeRosie and Remington in groups of four kids at a time. "It blows my mind how kids who started out stuttering and were having trouble reading have improved so much because they want to read for Remington," said DeRosie. The teachers have also been amazed, because kids who didn't want to read now ask to read in school. DeRosie feels the presence of the dog seems to calm the children, and they don't feel "judged" if they don't get everything right. She doesn't get involved unless the kids ask her for help to sound out a word.

Remington's presence hasn't just been a help for children. When he visits care facilities, he is excited to see the staff and lets out some youthful energy. DeRosie says, "He just loves people." But when going into a patient room, the dog is very quiet and goes up to their bed to let them pet him. Wakefield librarian Denise Engel heard about Read to Remington and asked about bringing DeRosie and Remington there to encourage reading in young people. The low pressure environment is a haven for kids. Engel mentioned that a girl was reading to Remington earlier in the morning and Remington put his head on her lap. That companionship seems to be meaningful for the kids that work with the dog.

DeRosie knew when she got Remington at age seven weeks that "he was something special" and she went to work on training him to be a service dog. She has used training courses as well as advanced training where he can socialize with other people and dogs, and has been tested with Pet Partners in the Marquette area. Remington passed with high scores, and has shown ability to go into areas such as intensive care units without being distracted by the various machinery. DeRosie is hoping to train and certify Remington to work in rescue situations in the near future.

Remington is part Labrador, part Golden Retriever, and a few other things thrown in. He has been a good frisbee dog and assists DeRosie with daily tasks such as retrieving clothes and walk beside her to steady her as she goes up and down stairs. He is also an emotional encouragement for staff as he makes his rounds. "Sometimes you just need to hug a dog," said DeRosie.

DeRosie and Remington are coming monthly to Wakefield Public Library on Saturdays to encourage young people to read. The next scheduled time for "Read with Remington" is scheduled for Saturday, March 17 at the library.

 
 

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