Hazel puts North Canterbury children under her spell

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Reading dog Hazel is winning hearts and helping young children gain confidence reading at...
Reading dog Hazel is winning hearts and helping young children gain confidence reading at Waimakariri libraries in Rangiora and Kaiapoi. Photo: Supplied
Reading dog Hazel is winning hearts and helping children gain confidence as readers at Rangiora and Kaiapoi libraries.

The calm, friendly maltese terrier-miniature poodle cross, owned by Kaiapoi’s Kim Flanagan, is helping children, aged 7 to 10, with their reading at the libraries every week.

Each child has a 15-minute reading session with Hazel sitting quietly alongside on her cushion. Assistant librarian Donna McMillan is nearby to help with any queries from the child.

After each reading session, the child is allowed to give Hazel a small food treat as a “thank you” for her help.

“Hazel loves children and they are drawn to her,” Donna says.

“She just sits there quietly as they read and her calm, non-judgmental presence seems to give the children confidence to read better.” Hazel has completed a Good Canine Certificate (silver) with Leithfield dog trainer Janice Kirk as part of her training to become a reading dog.

The well-behaved little dog is a popular visitor to the libraries and attracts a lot of attention from staff and library goers of all ages when she arrives for work for the sessions.

The sessions run during school terms on Tuesdays, between 3.30pm and 4.30pm at Rangiora Library, and 3.30pm to 4.30pm at Kaiapoi Library on Thursdays.

The free sessions with Hazel can be booked by telephoning Donna at the Rangiora Library on 03 3118901 or by emailing her at donna.mcmillan@wmk.govt.nz.

-By Shelley Topp

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