Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Therapy Dogs in Education: The True Story of How an Eleven-Year-Old Girl Learned to Love Reading with the Help of Moose

April 30th, 2018

Moose, the reading therapy dog.


You can find him at the Alamosa, Colorado library during story time; people always feel comfortable around him; he loves helping children become better readers…can you guess who he is? Moose, the reading therapy dog! Moose is a registered therapy dog who has been providing animal assisted interventions in his community since 2011. One of his success stories is Nicole Martinez’s daughter, Emma, who overcame her aversion to reading since working with Moose.


My Daughter Hated Reading  

Reading with Moose the Therapy Dog – Emma










Nicole’s eleven-year-old daughter, Emma, hated reading. Nicole knew she had to do something to change this kind of behavior. Reading is required to understand most other topics in school and she didn’t want her daughter to get behind. When Nicole heard about Moose from a flyer at the local library, she jumped on the opportunity to help her daughter. Moose was well-known for his “reading reputation” due to his success in the largest therapy animal program in the country, Pet Partners. This led Nicole to sign up for a session at the library for Emma to read with Moose.

“We had no challenges with Moose,” Nicole stated. “Emma hated to read…it was like pulling teeth with this girl to make her sit and read for even 30 minutes, until she started reading with Moose.”


Moose’s Miraculous Reading Breakthrough

Emma (left, pictured in navy) and Kiera (right, pictured in navy) reading to Moose.











Knowing how much Emma loves animals, Nicole was optimistic  that her daughter would find success reading to Moose. Nicole noticed a change in her daughter’s attitude toward reading after spending time with Moose. Moose’s calming presence helped Emma feel comfortable and confident through every book she read.

Nicole took Emma to the library twice a month to read with Moose. Each session lasted about 30 minutes. Nicole noted how Emma could spend all day with Moose, but there were other children in time slots. After witnessing Emma’s confidence levels soar, Nicole began bringing her youngest daughter, Kiera, to read with Moose too.

How Emma’s Life Has Changed Since Working With Moose

Kiera reading to Moose.








Post working with Moose, Emma’s reading level has greatly improved. Emma gained confidence to read out loud to anyone and reads without being asked. Emma is currently in the sixth grade and reading at a ninth grade level. Nicole praised, “This experience has been one of our best. It made my youngest daughter start wanting to read, and Emma has excelled tremendously all because of Moose!”

Taking your child to read to a therapy dog might seem intimidating at first, but Nicole’s experience with her daughters proves that there is nothing to worry about…especially when there is an adorable dog waiting to listen. With the help of a therapy dog, the challenge to get your child or student to read will no longer be a hassle.

To learn more about Moose’s real-life story and journey as a therapy dog, visit Purdue University Press’ website to read the summary and other book information about Moose! The Reading Dog by Laura Bruneau and Beverly Timmons.


Note: This guest post written by Macey Warren, account associate with Boiler Communication the student-run public relations firm in the Brian Lamb School of Communication in Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts. To see a media kit produced by the entire Boiler Communication team as part of their spring 2018 semester projects click here.