Students read to Ruby


Students at Horizon Elementary School pet Ruby, a therapy dog owned by Ted Kaczmarsk. — Submitted photo Students at Horizon Elementary School pet Ruby, a therapy dog owned by Ted Kaczmarsk. — Submitted photo Students at Horizon Elementary School in Plymouth are getting a chance to read to a non-critical listener – a therapy dog named Ruby.

Each Wednesday Ted Kaczmarski has been bringing his Doberman to the school for Read to Ruby sessions with small groups of second, third- and fourth-graders.

On a recent day, Ruby heard third-graders individually read “There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom,” “Coolest Things on Earth” and “Birds,” then a group of fourth-graders take turns reading “The Little Engine that Could.”

Ruby, who listened politely during each of the sessions, doesn’t have a favorite genre since she can’t understand what the kids are saying, Kaczmarski said. But she does allow kids to read without inhibitions.

Kids realize: “No one is scoring me on how I read,” he said. “I’m not going to get corrected as I read.”

Ruby is Kaczmarski’s way of giving back to society after bystanders saved his life when he suffered a heart attack in 2007. He adopted Ruby shortly thereafter and soon realized that she had a gentle temperament.

Ruby is certified through Therapy Dog International, which means she can visit schools, day care centers, nursing homes, hospices and other places.

She has made about 550 therapy visits – the highest level recognized by TDI – with nearly 100 of those involving reading.

Kaczmarski created Read to Ruby in conjunction with a TDI program called Tail Waggin Tutors, which encourages children to read aloud to animals.

He has offered sessions at Mead Public Library and will be at Horizon through the end of the school year.

“It’s rewarding to see the kids with a happy face meeting Ruby picking a book out and getting excited for the next moments,” he said.


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