“If it were not for Millie, I am not sure what would have happened that day,” recalls Beth Welch. She remembers the moment she realized her 9 month old Goldendoodle possessed an extraordinary gift.
“My mom had some changes in her medication that caused her some confusion,” says Beth. One morning after giving her the medications, Beth began working on laundry while her mother went to her bedroom. After a short time, Millie burst into the laundry room, barking loudly. She then grabbed the back of her sweatshirt and pulled her through the house into her mother’s room. “To my horror, Mom was starting to take her medications again. Fortunately, Millie had distracted Mom so she did not take them. That was the moment I knew Millie was a special dog.”
After that experience, Beth knew that Millie was destined to be a therapy dog. But where? “I had struggled with reading as a child and Millie loves children. I had heard about programs with dogs and reading and thought this would be a good fit for both of us,” says Beth of her decision to join Paws & Think with Millie as a therapy team.
With Millie, Beth is able to help children that have similar struggles with reading. “I needed a program like this as a young reader. Here, we are giving children the confidence to read out loud. Millie does not judge or laugh. She is happy to hear a child read.”
Millie can even sense when a child might need a little extra time to warm up to her. A few years ago, Millie began a reading partnership with an autistic girl named Olivia. At first “Olivia would sit on the opposite side from Millie. Instead of moving closer, Millie gave Olivia her space,” recalls Beth. But as the weeks went by, Olivia became more comfortable and the two began to move closer and closer to each other. “Soon, you did not know where Millie began and Olivia ended,” says Beth.
Although Beth and Millie have helped countless children discover the confidence to become life-long readers, Beth has found that she learns just as much from the kids themselves. “The children remind me to stop and take my time. As adults, we get so busy in our daily lives that we forget to stop and enjoy ourselves. We have a wonderful group of supportive staff members who train us and encourage us. It is a very special organization!”