Dog Words

0242: Katy Read & Gia

November 10, 2021 Season 2 Episode 42
Dog Words
0242: Katy Read & Gia
Show Notes Transcript

Elementary school counselor Katy Read tells us about two-time shelter dog Gia becoming a therapy dog.

More info on service and assistance dogs:

From the Dog Words archives:
0146: Missouri Patriot Paws with Susan Hinkle
0151: Training Service Dogs with Jason and Sandra Sindeldecker
0223: Sector K9 Foundation with Wes Keeling

Celebrate 5 years of Rosie Fund by supporting our campaign to sponsor 50 dogs. You can donate at or through our Facebook page. You can contribute by making a purchase from the store on our website or buying a t-shirt at Also check out our page on BarkYours, the online mall with gifts for people who love their dogs.

Music for this episode is provided by alternative string duo, The Wires. Visit them at Learn fiddle and cello-fiddle online — even if you've never played before — from Laurel Morgan Parks and Sascha Groshang at Join The Wires as they explore new music on their show Sound Currents.

The transcript for this episode is available on the Dog Words Buzzsprout page:

KATY  0:02 
It's been a big learning curve. It's hard. Everyone's like, oh my gosh, you bring your dog to school. How awesome how easy? No, it's hard.

PHIL   0:12 
I'm Phil Hatterman and this is Dog Words presented by Rosie Fund.

Today, elementary school counselor Katy Read tells us about two time shelter dog Gia becoming a therapy dog.

If you're new to Dog Words, in each episode we explore the world of dog care and companionship. "We save each other," is the motto of Rosie Fund, which simply means the more we do for dogs, the more they do for us. And they already do a lot.

If you love dogs, you'll love Dog Words. We welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions. Go to the podcast page at to share your thoughts. Please download, follow, rate, and most importantly, share Dog Words.

Celebrate five years of Rosie Fund by supporting our campaign to sponsor 50 dogs. You can donate on our website or Facebook page. You can also contribute by making a purchase from the store on our website, buying a t-shirt, or buying our notecards and shirts on Links are in the description. Your donations and purchases help fund the Rosie Life Starter Kits that make sure these senior and harder-to-adopt dogs have some of the items they'll need in their forever home.

Please follow Rosie Fund on social media subscribe to the free Rosie Fund YouTube channel that offers great videos Rosie, Peaches, and shelter dogs, including some exclusive content like the wonderful KC Pet Project dog featured in our latest post.

Next time on Dog Words the operator of Gator Mouth Kennels, Xavier Gulley, discusses breeding and training the sturdy but gentle Rottweiler. He also happens to own two of Peaches' favorite dogs, Bishop and Ava.

The mission of Rosie Fund is to provide humans with the resources and education they need to give senior and harder-to-adopt dogs a better life. Thank you for joining our mission.

Today's guest on Dog Words is Katie Reed. Welcome to Dog Words, Katy.

KATY  2:04 
Hi, thanks for having me.

PHIL   2:06 
You are fortunate to have a coworker that's probably the envy of all of your other coworkers and everyone you know, Gia.

KATY  2:14 
Yes. Yes, I do.

PHIL   2:17 
Tell us about Gia.

KATY  2:19 
Well, Gia is a beautiful brunette. She has very glossy, beautiful hair and she is four legged.

PHIL   2:28 
And how old is Gia?

KATY  2:30 
Gia's three. Three and three months I found when we did the microchip transfer and she's actually has a birthday the day before mine. So I'll remember it.

PHIL   2:39 
What kind of job do you have that you get to work with Gia every day? Tell us about where you work and what you do.

KATY  2:46 
Sure. I am an elementary counselor at Chouteau Elementary School in the North Kansas City School District. I have been a school counselor there for, I think this is my 10th year. It's hard once we get past like five or so. But it's my 12th year counseling in general. And this is my first year having a therapy dog at school. She's a therapy dog/facility dog. That's what her training is. It's been really exciting.

PHIL   3:13 
Has the school always had a therapy dog or is this something new, not just for your school, but the school district? Is this uncommon or common?

KATY  3:24 
It's a little uncommon. My school definitely hasn't had one. They've had a dog that's come in to be like a reading dog before like way back when and but I know that a previous middle school in our district had a therapy dog, Maple Park Middle School had a therapy dog named Gypsy for a few years with one of their counselors. And so it's not common. And a lot of the other counselors are like, "Oh, how did you do that? I want to do that. Do they train dogs...?"

PHIL   3:49 
Where's, where's the paperwork?

KATY  3:51 
Right? Right.

PHIL   3:51 
We'll file it now. Well, we're recording this in our home studio. And as is often the case, when we do that, Peaches wants to be a part of the interview. Dawn was gonna take Peaches for a walk and they even went upstairs. And then Peaches came charging back down the stairs.

KATY  4:10 
I'm used to petting a dog all day now. So...

PHIL   4:13 
Is this more interesting than going on a walk in the cold and the rain, Peaches? Do you want to go for a walk? Dawn's all bundled up ready to go. She acts like she's doing Dawn a favor. "I have no interest in this. But I guess I'll take Dawn for a walk." Thank you, Peaches. So not that common in your school or the district and all the other counselors want to know, "Where do I get a dog?" How did you get a dog?

KATY  4:40 
Okay, so it has been like my dream for a very long time like a lot of counselors that are dog lovers to have a therapy dog at school. It's one of those like, life goals. So last year at the end of the year, I got a mailer from just just a random mailer. And it was from the Warriors Best Friend Foundation. And they are a dog training non-for-profit group. And they initially trained dogs for veterans who have post traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries. So they train dogs that are very, very, very well trained assistance dogs, like the dogs that you don't touch, if you see them in public.

PHIL   5:22 

KATY  5:22 
But they had started a program called Operation Schoolhouse where they were training facility dogs for schools. So I got the flyer, I was like, "Oh, my gosh! I think this is a sign." Because the dog I had had passed away in April. And so I was kind of trying to see what my next thing would be like would I adopt a puppy over the summer and like train it or I didn't know where I was going, but this came in, I was like, "Ah, this is it." And so I called them that afternoon. And I talked to Joe, and I was like, "Joe, sign me up." He said, "Okay, well, let me tell you..." I was like, "No. Sign me up."

PHIL   5:56 
I'm in. I'm in. You had me at dog.

KATY  5:59 
I'm in completely. Yes. You had me a therapy dog. So it just, I don't know, fell in my lap. And a lot of other schools in the district got the same flyer. They sent it to like everyone in our district. But I called that afternoon.

PHIL   6:11 
Yes. They waited a day to call. Snooze ya lose.

KATY  6:15 
Yeah, some friends just waited. And they're like, "Oh, I saw that I was gonna call them maybe." And I was like, "Well, I called them that afternoon." So I got on the list. And they were working on training like five dogs.

PHIL   6:27 
And as far as you responding immediately, we've had a few guests on who work with service dogs. And if you are in need of a service dog, or if you think, "If I had a therapy dog, either for myself, or that I could be the handler to take it to schools, nursing homes, care facilities, wherever," don't wait around for that to just fall into your lap. Don't wait around for it to happen. If you see a flyer, if you see an ad, if you're on a website, move forward with it. Because there's a limited number of dogs, there's a lot that goes into the training. And we'll get into that a little bit. It's not just, "We have this litter of dogs that we're going to turn into therapy dogs!" and you go pick it up.

KATY  7:14 

PHIL   7:15 
It takes time and resources to get them trained. So you may even need to just get on the list. Wait your turn.

KATY  7:23 

PHIL   7:23 
So don't wait for the perfect time, how this is gonna fit for you. Make it happen if you're at all interested in doing this. And so you did that. You saw the opportunity. You get the flyer. You met with Joe. And you say, "What do I need to do to make this happen?"

KATY  7:39 

PHIL   7:39 
So what were those next steps?

KATY  7:41 
So the next steps were to get okayed through my principal and our district. You had to have the principal approval.

PHIL   7:48 
I guess that makes sense. You just can't show up one day at school with a dog.

KATY  7:51 
Yeah. Hey!

PHIL   7:52 
I have a dog now!

KATY  7:53 
Hey, I brought a dog. Is that okay? Cool? Yeah. Okay. So I had to get principal approval. And then I talked to my boss who's like the head of counselors. And she works in student services. And I talked to her about the process. And it's basically, we have to prove that the certifications, and then have a plan in place of how we would have the dog in school, safety measures, how we would talk to parents, tell parents about it, what we would do if there's any allergy, like, we just had to have a whole plan. So I made like a PowerPoint about it, and had a parent letter, and had everything ready.

PHIL   8:26 
Yeah, anyone who wants to do this, as you touched on a moment ago, is a dog lover.

KATY  8:31 

PHIL   8:31 
You're not gonna say, "I want to be a counselor with a therapy dog but I hate dogs."

KATY  8:35 

PHIL   8:35 
So dog lovers, sort of their default is, "Well, everyone loves a dog. No one is allergic to dogs. And everyone's gonna just be on board with this immediately." Was there any resistance? Not anyone who didn't like dogs, but people who were kind of pumping the brake saying, "Well, I'm not sure how this is gonna work in our school, or if our population will be comfortable with this." What sort of hurdles did you have to overcome, if any?

KATY  9:03 
I work at a very diverse school. We are very high title, which means very high need. And we also have 13 different countries represented and a lot of different faiths. And so with diversity comes a lot of different restrictions within those religious faiths, as well. So what I found out as I was going through this journey is that typically those that are very devout Muslims, do not pet dogs, or have dogs in their homes as pets or any animals in their homes as pets. They might love them from afar, like see them and like them, but they don't have them in their homes. And a lot of them do not pet dogs because of their religious beliefs. So we have a very high Muslim population at my school. So that has been a very big learning curve. That's something that I took into consideration. And in my parent note, I did say, "If you do not want your child to pet the dog or be around the dog, please let me know. I will honor it." And that has to do with I mean allergies, as well.

PHIL   10:03 

KATY  10:03 
Or kids that are scared of dogs. So I did have a few parents reach out and say, "Hey, my kid is allergic technically, but they just need to wash their hands when they're done." I've talked with my nurse and a lot of dog allergies aren't as severe as like cat dander allergy, like, they're not kind of on that same playing field.

PHIL   10:21 
Yeah, you're, it's not eyes constantly itchy and swelling shut. And there's some people who may have profound allergy, but more commonly, and if they are they let you know, but more commonly, yeah, the dog allergies aren't as intense. And there may be a child who's had a traumatic experience with a dog.

KATY  10:39 
And I had a couple of parents reach out that their kids' just always been scared of dogs. And I said, "Okay, well, I'll keep that in mind." And I do not force any of the kids to pet her. They don't have to be around her. I'm very lucky to have a space. My office used to be the old computer lab. So when they got rid of computers to do iPads, one to one, it's just an awkward space. It's kind of big, kind of not. It's just not big enough for a classroom.

PHIL   11:03 
Yeah, you can't use it for a classroom, but it's would be a huge office.

KATY  11:07 
Yes. So I share that with my behavior interventionist. So I'm able to have classrooms come into my room for counselor lessons. I'm very, very lucky. And I say that I'm very, very lucky that I have that opportunity. And the teachers love it too, because they get their classroom. So every other week, I see classes and I worked really hard with Bella, the trainer from Warriors Best Friend the first week to teach Gia to go to her bed and stay on her bed until I release her. During lessons, she stays on her bed to be respectful of all the different kids and for the kids to focus on my lesson. And then as they leave, I bring her out with me to stand at my doorway. And if they want to pet her as they leave, they can. And if they don't want to, they just walk by and give her a little finger wave or wave at her. Most of them like to do that.

PHIL   11:52 
Someone who has a religious or cultural objection that is the product of generations of how they interact or respond to our customs or that animal or something that's different in other cultures. Someone who's just never been comfortable around dogs or perhaps had a traumatic experience, however, you're not forcing the dog on them but that may be a gateway for them. Even if they're not petting Gia, just seeing Gia being a good girl.

KATY  12:27 

PHIL   12:27 
 They think "Well, maybe someday I might want to pet that dog."

KATY  12:30 
Yeah. And I've had some kids that have started off like, just looking at her and they didn't want to pet her. Like my first lesson I introduced her to every class and I had her sit in the middle and I asked, "Would you like to come pet her?" And they could tell me yes or no thanks. And so kids were able to do that and come up and pet her if they wanted to. Just like meet her and some kids came up and they like touched her with like one finger on her tail. And they're like, "Oh!" and I was like, "That was so brave! Great job." And other ones just said, "No, thanks." or "I can't. My mom said I can't." And I said, "You're not hurting my feelings. You're not hurting Gia's feelings. We're just glad that you're here in class."

PHIL   13:03 
Because I'm sure Gia has no shortage of love.

KATY  13:06 
No, she is spoiled rotten all the time.

PHIL   13:09 
Not gonna be neglected because a couple of kids one day didn't touch her.

KATY  13:13 
She doesn't care. She does not care a bit. Yeah. So I've seen some kids really grow and come and, like, actually pet her or they're like, "Hi, Gia." And I was like, "Oh, you didn't like her the first week." Because they get to see her being a good dog. She doesn't bark in school. She gets excited. And like, oh, a little, you know, crazy pants.

PHIL   13:33 
She's a dog.

KATY  13:34 
She's a dog, right? But she's not aggressive.

PHIL   13:37 
But if someone's experience is their neighbor's dog that's out of control because the neighbor doesn't take care of it. They just keep it chained up in their backyard. And so it's aggressive. Because it's never been socialized.

KATY  13:47 

PHIL   13:48 
That's what they think a dog is.

KATY  13:50 
Right. And so Gia is just a safe view of what dogs can be. And so I think it's, it's doing really well.

PHIL   13:58 
And beyond dogs, someone who's given the opportunity to be brave and touch Gia and then be acknowledged for their bravery can take steps in other areas of their life. One success? Let's build on that success.

KATY  14:14 
Yeah. And also just seeing her in the halls kids will be, "Ah! Gia!" We do a finger wave. It's kind of like that Red Rum finger. You know, Red Rum. But, but it's like, "Hi!"

PHIL   14:23 
Which is not at all comforting, but, but I understand. In this context it is.

KATY  14:29 
Well, and reaching for people, but that's just what we do at our school and I know a lot of their schools to do but so we do little finger wave. "Gia! Gia!" And they see me walking her and her heeling and being calm in the hallways. It is a comfort and even just like some of the kids when they walk by and if we're stopped then, "Can we pet her?" Like, "Yes." Because we're stopped. But if we're walking, we're on a mission. We don't just reach out and pet her.

PHIL   14:53 
It's somewhat sad that there are elementary children who need that comfort, who need a dog that, "I just need to be able to look at a dog or touch a dog," to make their day a little better. So it's sad that that is the case. But it's so wonderful that it is being addressed, at least in your school, by Gia. Do you see her making a difference in children's life in that way?

KATY  15:19 
I do. I...

PHIL   15:21 
And obviously you also, as a counselor, are making a difference.

KATY  15:24 
 Oh, thank you!

PHIL   15:26 
But how is she helping with that?

KATY  15:29 
When kids are in crisis, or if kids are having a time where they just need to come and talk to me and they're having like big feelings, I asked them, "Hey, do you remember Gia? Do you like Gia?" They'll be like, "Oh, yeah!" I'm like, "Well, can you pet her?" And they're like, "Sure." So when I bring them in, she is excited to see them. And they just pet her. Usually she licks their face. And I'm like, "Stop licking their face." But if they have glasses, she loves glasses. So she's like, has to like the glasses. And I'm like, "Sorry." And they're like, "It's okay." They love it. And so I've asked a lot of kids, just kind of as a little tester as they leave. I'm like, "Hey, did Gia help you feel a little better, too?" And they're like, "Yeah." I haven't had any kid say no, yet. So that's good. I might do like a little survey kind of thing sometime. But I'm still getting used to it. It's a lot.

PHIL   16:14 
And how has the staff responded to Gia?

KATY  16:18 
Oh, my gosh. They love her. I have staff come on their breaks just to come by and get a minute of Gia love, or just to come and get pets. She is just as much a helper for staff as she is for kids. So they love our, like our morning meetings that we have on Thursdays, because I just, if we're all in the gym, spread out COVID-style, you know, she'll just, I'll just let her roam. And she just goes and says, "Hi!" to everyone. And she's like, "Okay, pet me." And she's like, "Okay, bye." And then she just runs around. And people just love it.

PHIL   16:49 
Just as school employees to most school children are these people who are just at the school, like it's shocking when you see them at the grocery store, or somewhere other than a school event, like a ballgame or a play or something. But you see them out in the general population. Miss Read, you have a life!

KATY  17:13 

PHIL   17:14 
It's probably that same assumption about Gia. That she is just the school dog. But she has a life outside of the school. What is that life like?

KATY  17:23 
Oh, she's such a good dog. I forgot to tell you at the beginning. She's a rescue dog.

PHIL   17:27 

KATY  17:28 
So all the dogs that they do for Operation Schoolhouse are rescue dogs. They get them all from, most of them from the Greater Kansas City SPCA. I know that they work really closely with them the Warriors Best Friend Foundation. And she was a stray that had been microchipped and adopted from SPCA when she was a puppy. And then two years later showed back up. So they called the people and they're like, "Oh, no. We, we gave her to someone." And they didn't have any information. So it's kind of sketch. But Gia is such a good dog for someone who has been a stray, probably lived on the streets for a while.

PHIL   18:04 
We say it all the time. We don't deserve dogs.

KATY  18:06 
No, I don't. I don't deserve her. She is just, she's wonderful. We're working on pulling while we're walking. Other than that, we're doing really great. She doesn't piddle in the house. She's had no accidents in the house. She waits to go outside. She is excited. She doesn't mess with any of my stuff. She only plays and destroys all of her toys. And she's just darling. It's just, she's such a blessing.

PHIL   18:30 
Your exercise schedule, is it pretty regimented? Because you have a school schedule, there's a time where you have to be at school and then you're there until the end of the school day. How do you handle that with her? Does she have to get a walk before you go to school? Or is it built into the day? Do you have a free time?

KATY  18:47 
She is pooped by the time I get home. She's exhausted. Because she has to think so much. Like she has to be on. She has to be working.

PHIL   18:54 
People don't appreciate how much stress that is on a dog.

KATY  18:58 
Well, the trainer was saying, Bella was saying a dog using its brain is way more than walking for two miles or whatever. She said by the time she gets home she's gonna be exhausted. And she is. So I have a part time job, as well. So she does not mind me going to work for four hours and...

PHIL   19:17 
She likes some Mia...I combined me and Gia. She likes some Mia time.

KATY  19:22 
She does.

PHIL   19:22 
 Some Gia time. Some me time. And yeah, you go do your stuff, Katy.

KATY  19:27 
Yep, I come home and she comes I'm like, "Gia! Gia!" And she comes trotting down from the bed upstairs. She's like, "Hi."

PHIL   19:33 
Yeah, I've been sleeping the entire time.

KATY  19:35 
Yes, she has, like probably the whole time. But she does get her naps in through the day, too, at school. But yeah, we take walks whenever we feel like it. Usually on the weekend we try to take more walks because then she's not having as much going on. But she, I mean, she sleeps hard every night and sleeps in. I have to be like, "Gia, do you need to go potty?" and she's like, "I guess."

PHIL   19:56 
Now that you mentioned it.

KATY  19:57 
I guess.

PHIL   19:58 
What are your future plans for Gia? Do you have any projects or approaches to therapy that you're looking forward to trying? Because it's only been a couple months.

KATY  20:10 
Yeah, I would like to get through the school year. That is my like, short term goal. Get through and be like...

PHIL   20:16 
So just one cycle of a school year and then figure it out from there?

KATY  20:20 
Yeah. And feel successful. It's been a big learning curve. It's hard. Everyone's like, "Oh, my gosh, you bring a dog to school? How awesome? How easy?" No. It's hard. Yeah, I can't just like...

PHIL   20:30 
Ask them, "Would you like to bring a toddler to school every day? And do your job?

KATY  20:34 
Right? That I have to pay attention to and I can't leave in the room with a kid. You know, like, I'm not going to, I'm not gonna have that liability. I got to also like, make sure she's cool. And she's feeling all right. And I need to make sure if she's drank water earlier, I need to kind of pay attention to how long it's been just kind of take her and go potty. But it's a lot of extra thinking, and maneuvering, but it's really rewarding, but it's not easy.

PHIL   20:59 
Is there a online forum for counselors or similar positions with therapy dogs that you've been tracking? Or did I just give you a great idea?

KATY  21:08 
You just gave me a great idea. I haven't even thought that far. I wanted to do like a cute little Gia Our School Therapy Dog Instagram page. And...

PHIL   21:16 
I'm sure you have all kinds of exciting ideas the moment you knew you were going to get Gia.

KATY  21:22 
Yeah. But so far, it's been like, we're gonna go to school, we're gonna do our job. And then we're gonna have a great day, and we're gonna come home with no incidents. And so far, it's been really good. Some things that we have done in school that have been really sweet and exciting, is that our kids can earn positive points for doing great things throughout the day, being respectful, responsible, safe, following our rules, stuff like that. And they're called Dojo points is the system that we use. So it's like electronic. It's really easy. You go, "Ding!" Anyways, so they can spend their Dojo points on things from our prize matrix, which go anywhere from like a fancy pencil to borrowing the principal's chair to reading the announcements kind of stuff. Well, we've added...

PHIL   22:04 
Nothing you've described so far reflects my elementary school experience at all. But continue.

KATY  22:10 
Welcome to current elementary school status. We follow the positive behavior support—PBS—model, but we added in their read to Gia. And I always have had chill with the counselor where they can come and like, just play in my office for like 15 minutes and just hang out. But that involves playing with Gia now, too. And then I also have walk with Gia. Honestly, that one's the easiest one. I'm like, "Gia has to go potty. Who's on the list to go for a walk? Okay. Let me call them if they're not at something important." And so we just go for a walk down and around the playground and back and she does her business and sniffs everything. They're like, "What is she sniffing?" I'm like, "I don't know, what do you think?" And then they all crouch down and have to see.

PHIL   22:49 
May have been another dog there, or a rabbit, or a cat.

KATY  22:52 
Or a deer?

PHIL   22:54 
Any number of interesting smells. And interesting smells is defined differently to a dog than it is to elementary student.

KATY  23:02 
Oh my gosh, it's so funny, though. I've done like four or five walks so far, because it's a lot of Dojo points to go for a walk with Gia. Like 200 points.

PHIL   23:10 
Well, I'll be curious—Because it doesn't sound like in that case, this is a child who's terribly dog savvy. So maybe they don't have a dog at home—how many will be inspired to get a dog who weren't already asking for a dog?

KATY  23:27 
Yeah. I don't know. Probably a bunch.

PHIL   23:30 
And learning from the Gia experience, this is how you behave around the dog, and just how they can make your life better. And perhaps some parents will be inspired—you need to have like a Gia night, where all the parents can come meet the dog. I'm giving you more things to do. You say you're just gonna get through the school year. You can do that next year. You don't have to do that this year, Katy.

KATY  23:53 
I did have her at parent teacher conferences. And when parents came by they could. And some of them wanted to see her and some of them didn't care. So...

PHIL   24:00 
I'm sure that many of them have heard so much about Gia...

KATY  24:03 

PHIL   24:04 
...beyond your correspondence with them.

KATY  24:07 
Yeah. And I try to send a picture like if the kid does a read to Gia, I take a picture of the two of them and I send it to them through our Dojo app, just to kind of reinforce, "Hey, they're doing great things. And they did really good reading and Gia loved it."

PHIL   24:18 
That's something I wanted to ask about, reading to Gia, because I know there's lots of programs where dogs will be brought in for children who are having trouble reading or trouble expressing themselves. Or perhaps not trouble but not doing it at the level that you would expect for their age. They'll read to a dog when previously they were not able to read out loud or certainly not willing to. Has Gia given children that opportunity?

KATY  24:50 
Yeah, I have a few kids that have come in that struggle with reading and they tried. I got some books from the Mid-Continent Public Library.

PHIL   24:57 
Little plug for MidContinent Public Library. Yeah, you said you had a part time job. I wonder where that might be.

KATY  25:02 
It's at Mid-Continent.

PHIL   25:03 
Plug for Mid-Continent Public Library, which has lots of branches with lots of wonderful programs. And as we're either coming out of COVID, or learning to deal with COVID, are having even more programs, so you get some books from Mid-Continent. And...

KATY  25:19 
Yep. I have some easy readers. And so, because my first time, I had the friend bring book, and they brought the longest book in the world, with all the words and all the pictures, and it was...

PHIL   25:34 
For someone who's overwhelmed with reading, here's War and Peace.

KATY  25:38 
Yes. And it took like, 45 minutes, and I was like, "Oh, my goodness." I'm never, it's gonna be so, because you know, it's gonna be 15 minutes or less, be like. Anyways, so I brought some books from the library that I thought would be a better fit. And some of them are. And I found that Dr. Seuss has a lot of words and a lot of pages. And I won't be bringing those anymore. Because those take like 30 minutes as well, too. But it's great. I mean, it's time that I get to interact with her and the kid and they get to interact with Gia. But Gia gets bored after like 10 minutes. Especially if they forget to pet her. If they're like really intense and reading. So we are working on our reading listening stamina for Gia, but they're like, "Oh, where'd she go?" I was, "Oh, she'll be back. I think."

PHIL   26:24 
Again, she's a dog.

KATY  26:26 
She is. She is. So...

PHIL   26:28 
Doesn't care how this book ends?

KATY  26:29 
She does not. No.

PHIL   26:30 
She's not on the edge of her seat to see how this turns out.

KATY  26:35 
No. She does not care what the Cat in the Hat did..

PHIL   26:36 
Yeah. She just likes the attention and you talking to her. But that needs to be supplemented by a little physical contact.

KATY  26:43 

PHIL   26:43 
She likes that, too. Because again, she's a dog.

KATY  26:46 
It's so cute. The kids just, they're loving it.

PHIL   26:50 
Do you think that this might expand to some more schools now that people know if they get the letter they need to respond the same day? Do you think other counselors are wanting to get on board?

KATY  27:01 
I think they are. Some of them were asking me like if the foundation trains their dogs. And they don't. They only train the dogs that they have. And then they...

PHIL   27:10 
Because even though they're using rescue dogs, what I've learned from doing Dog Words is it still needs to be the right dog. The dog has to have the right temperament. And you may love your own dog, but your dog may not be appropriate as a therapy dog or even just a reading dog.

KATY  27:29 

PHIL   27:30 
Let alone a therapy dog. And the resources that go into the training, they want to be pretty confident going into it that this dog is gonna be a success.

KATY  27:41 
Oh yeah. Bella said—the trainer from Warriors Best Friend—said that they meet like 500 dogs for every one dog that they pick for their program. Like they're extremely picky. They look at temperament and size, and just all kinds of things.

PHIL   27:57 
You might not think about a dog that's a good temperament but really small, you can't be walking down the hallway with this dog with a bunch of elementary students who aren't paying attention. Maybe stepping on your dog. It needs to be big enough that it's gonna be noticed. But you also can't have Great Danes...

KATY  28:18 
For elementary.

PHIL   28:19 
...and Bull Mastiffs and stuff that are going to lay down on a kid and and crush their leg.

KATY  28:24 

PHIL   28:24 
So yeah, you've got to find that that sweet spot. How much training did you have to have to be Gia's handler? I'm guessing she's sort of out-of-the-box. That they've already come up with the commands and everything that they need to teach her.

KATY  28:42 
I just had a day training. If I needed more, I could have come back. But then I also had like a week of training, basically learning like how to affirm her and how to give her corrections. So with the training, I brought my mom, my dad, my best friend, because they would be additional handlers like outside of school.

PHIL   29:00 
Oh, yeah. I didn't even think about that.

KATY  29:01 
Yeah, so if I ever have to leave her with someone, if I'm on a trip or something, I wanted people to be consistent, on how to handle her as well. That way all the training doesn't go out the door. Because she had five months of training with Bella, the trainer, and she learned commands like usual ones - sit, stay, come, leave it, heel. A couple specialized ones like under to like go under my desk or under somewhere to be safe if something was going on. She also learned visit where she would come and sit next to the child without touching the child. So I'd say, "Gia, visit!" And she would come and lay down and I'd point next to the child. But also she has a command called comfort where you pat your legs and if you're sitting then she will come and put two paws and lay across their legs to give that...

PHIL   29:51 
Oh, my goodness.

KATY  29:52 
...pressure therapy. So give that pressure to the kid on their legs or if they're in a chair, she does. She doesn't love it, because she's kind of a petite dog. She's not huge, but she's not little, but she's kind of petite, and put her legs up across your lap as well. So those are two specialized ones. And then I also had a week long training where Bella came the first week of school, and helped be a  Gia wrangler/help trainer and kind of see my needs at school.

PHIL   30:22 
That had to be very reassuring just to know that the pro is there.

KATY  30:25 
It was. And Bella is just so kind. So she answered any questions I had. We also did like a 30 minute training, just kind of basic training for some key people at school that might, if something happens, I'd have to be like, "Can you take Gia to blah, blah, blah, or whatever?"

PHIL   30:41 
Again, all those things you don't think about when you first read the flyer and say, "I want the therapy dog."

KATY  30:46 

PHIL   30:47 
All that that goes into it is...

KATY  30:49 
It's a lot. It's a lot to think about. And I have a really great team at school. And they love her, as well. So it's so easy. In that regard. They're very supportive.

PHIL   30:59 
And it even gives you a greater appreciation of what Warriors Best Friend is doing for those who've served...

KATY  31:06 

PHIL   31:07 
...that are getting a service dog. Because we've had Missouri Patriot Paws on the show a couple times with the founder and then Sindeldeckers who are trainers, and just the time they take finding the right dogs, and then training them and training their handlers. The work they do is just so impressive. And I'm so grateful that they're doing it. And that Warriors Best Friend doing the same kind of work, also expanding it to what ultimately, is planting seeds for more people to appreciate dogs, to get therapy dogs, to get service dogs. Perhaps for those children to better recognize somewhere down the road, when there may be a need for them or a loved one to get a therapy dog or a service dog to see, "Oh, yeah, I remember Gia. Yeah, a dog would be a good idea." So the work that you're doing in one area, just that ripple effect that Warriors Best Friend and Missouri Patriot Paws, and you Katie are doing. Thank you for that.

KATY  32:17 
Thank you.

PHIL   32:19 
Well, I am so thrilled that this is a success and can't wait for updates on you and Gia. Once you get through the school year circle back and let us know...

KATY  32:30 

PHIL   32:31 everything went, what you learned and what the plans are for going forward. In the description for this episode we'll link to some of the resources you mentioned and certainly Warriors Best Friend. If you're a listener out there who thinks, "I would be a great person to help with Warriors Best Friend." I'm sure they're always looking for volunteers, they're looking for donations so that more schools like yours can get dogs like Gia. So thank you for joining us, Katie, and we look forward to updates.

KATY  33:06 
Yea! Thanks for having me.

PHIL   33:12 
I'm Phil Hatterman and you've been listening to Dog Words presented by Rosie Fund.

Thank you to Katie Read for joining us today. Links to the resources and Dog Words episodes that we mentioned earlier are in the description.

Next time on Dog Words, the operator of Gator Mouth Kennels, Xavier Gulley, discusses breeding and training the sturdy but gentle Rottweiler. He also happens to own two of peaches, favorite dogs, Bishop and Ava.

A big thank you to alternative string duo The Wires featuring cellist Sascha Groshang and violinist Laurel Morgan parks for playing the wonderful music you've heard on today's and previous episodes of Dog Words. Supporting The Wires supports our mission. Now you can join Laurel and Sascha as they explore new music and delve into the inspiration behind each work as hosts of Sound Currents on 91.9 Classical KC. Click on the Sound Currents link in the description for more information. Learn more about The Wires, including their concert schedule at and download their music on iTunes. Check out and learn to play fiddle and cello-fiddle online from Laurel and Sasha even if you've never played before.

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DISCLAIMER: This document is a transcription obtained through a third party. There is no claim to accuracy on the content provided in this document and divergence from the audio file is to be expected. Some content may be omitted, particularly when there is crosstalk.

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