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Beautiful things can happen when kids read to dogs.

The kids strengthen their reading and empathy and the dogs learn to trust.

Beautiful things can happen when kids read to dogs.

This is the kind of story that will make you want to replicate this program near you.

We all know what's at stake for dogs in shelters. Their ability to connect with the humans who might adopt them is the main thing that can determine what fate befalls them.

The ASPCA estimates that each year close to the same number of pets in shelters get euthanized (31%) as get adopted (35%). The rest are reunited with owners whom they've gotten separated from.


What if that adoption-to-euthanization ratio could be significantly altered by helping animals become better socialized with people?

That's what makes the new Shelter Buddies Reading Program at the Humane Society of Missouri so crucial and brilliant.

"Can we do 'Frog and Toad Are Friends' next, pretty pleeeeeeease?" All images by Humane Society of Missouri, used with permission.

By pairing kids with hearts of gold with the pups who need their attention, it could be possible to change the outcomes for a lot of these dogs.

The program was just introduced in December 2015, and the shelter holds trainings for it once per month. Kids, ages 6-15, go through 10 hours of training to read dogs' body language for stress or nervousness. When they've completed the training, they're ready to sidle up next to a dog's room and begin connecting through reading, which they can come back and do as often as they like.

"Read it again! Read it again!"

The goal is to create dogs that are more adoptable AND help children exercise their empathy.

Jo Klepacki, the program's director at Humane Society of Missouri, said in an interview with The Dodo, "We wanted to help our shy and fearful dogs without forcing physical interaction with them to see the positive effect that could have on them."

"Did you see this?!" This kid is so excited to show this puppy the literary world, and the puppy is digging it.

Klepacki also noted the positive effects for their tiny-human participants:

"It's encouraging children to develop empathy with animals. It's a peaceful, quiet exercise. They're seeing fearfulness in these animals, and seeing the positive affect they can have. It encourages them to look at things from an animal's perspective. That helps them better connect with animals and people in their lives."

This story is clearly riveting.

Obviously this program should be a thing at every shelter in every city across America.

A good idea is a good idea. The proof will come over time, but not everything needs to be quantified and measured before it's implemented. It's a low-cost way to help both pets and people. If it turns out to be successful in getting more dogs adopted (and I suspect it will), the program will be even more likely to spread.

But even if all it ever does is improve the quality of life for these animals while they're in the shelter, that's worthwhile in itself.

Every animal lover and reading enthusiast needs to see this and consider bringing the program to their own local shelters!

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$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

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My husband and I had just finished watching "The Office" for the third time through and were looking for a new show to watch before bed. I'd seen a couple of friends highly recommend "Schitt's Creek," so we decided to give it a try.

My initial reaction to the first episode was meh. The characters were annoying and the premise was weird (pretentious and previously-filthy-rich family lives in a scuzzy motel in the middle of nowhere??). I felt nothing for the main characters, and I hate shows with horrible main characters that I can't root for. Even predicting that they were going to eventually be transformed by their small town experiences, I didn't see liking them. It didn't grab either of us as worth continuing, so we stopped.

But then I kept hearing people whose taste I trust implicitly talk about how great it was. I know different people have different tastes, but I realized I had to be missing something if these friends of mine raved on and on about it. So we gave it another shot.

It took a bit—I don't know how many episodes exactly, but a bit—to start liking it. Then a bit longer to start really liking it, and then at some point, it became a full-fledged, gushy, where-have-you-been-all-my-life love affair.

So when the show took home nine Emmy awards over the weekend—breaking the record for the most wins in a season for a comedy—I wasn't surprised. Here's why:

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$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

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The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn’t have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women’s rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn’t something we’d choose—and we’d hope others wouldn’t choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

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Biases, stereotypes, prejudices—these byproducts of the human brain's natural tendency to generalize and categorize have been a root cause of most of humanity's problems for, well, pretty much ever. None of us is immune to those tendencies, and since they can easily slip in unnoticed, we all have to be aware of where, when, and how they impact our own beliefs and actions.

It also helps when someone upends a stereotype by saying or doing something unexpected.

Fair or not, certain parts of the U.S. are associated with certain cultural assumptions, perhaps none more pinholed than the rural south. When we hear Appalachia, a certain stereotype probably pops up in our minds—probably white, probably not well educated, probably racist. Even if there is some basis to a stereotype, we must always remember that human beings can never be painted with such broad strokes.

Enter Tyler Childers, a rising country music star whose old-school country fiddling has endeared him to a broad audience, but his new album may have a different kind of reach. "Long Violent History" was released Friday, along with a video message to his white rural fans explaining the culminating track by the same name. Watch it here:

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