Children comfort shelter dogs through reading

St. Louis, Missouri (NBC) — Children have opened their hearts and their books to dogs in St. Louis.

Turning the pages for animals entering a new chapter in life.

One that can be full of noise and nerves, in an animal shelter.

You can almost hear in the way they bark, all of the stress and anxiety that rescue dogs feel living behind the doors of an animal shelter.

Which is why the Humane Society of Missouri is using a new trick where local kids can come read a book to the pets as they wait for a forever home.

The shelter buddies reading program has been around for less than a year, but already 800 children have participated.

The kids are told to read to the most nervous looking dogs first, with hopes their little reading visit will help the animals loosen up.

“It gives that animal a chance to approach if they want and engage with that visitor,” said Joellyn Klepacki of the Humane Society, “or just hang out in the back and observe if they want.”

And the more these pets interact with people, the shelter says, the better chance they’ll have at getting adopted.

And there’s something in it for the kids too.

“This gives them a chance to practice those skills,” said Klepacki, “with a nonjudgmental audience while also comforting shelter dogs.”

The kids are not only learning through a good take, but they are making them wag too.