“She has a special collar she wears when she works, and she gets excited when I open the drawer to get it out,” Tashlik said. Bandita gets to help children learn how to read, but Tashlik said Bandita probably enjoys getting petted more.
The Reading Education Assistance Dogs Program was started locally in 2004 with the help of Navarre residents Tashlik and Cheryl Petersen, two of the founders of Emerald Coast Furever Friends. Dogs trained for the program travel around to local libraries and schools in the area to let children read books to them.
Tashlik said the program gave children more confidence in their reading abilities.
“Dogs don’t care if you mispronounce the words or stumble over a sentence,” she said. “So they read out loud while they’re petting the dog and it builds their confidence.”
For more on this story, see the July 28 issue of the Navarre Press or subscribe online.