By Robert Alan Glover
MURFREESBORO, TN — Lindsay Frierson just spent an entire Saturday “going to the dogs, so to speak.” Frierson is media relations specialist for “PAWS (Pet Adoption Animal Welfare Services) in Rutherford County. On March 18th, Frierson and students from Central Magnet School hosted a Dog Whisperer Reading Program at the county Animal Shelter. “I do community involvement work with the public; promoting adoptions, and various events. We try to keep people coming through our doors,” Frierson said.
According to Ms. Frierson, researchers from animal behavior studies recommended they should try some type of reading program but PAWS lacked the resources to help launch it.
But help was soon on the way from the CMS’ Book Club. courtesy of the school’s Media Center Director, Sarah Rosenberger-Svarda, who also supervises the club. “Sara chose the kids, who are all middle school students. The kids researched how to read to dogs to make them stay calm,” explains Frierson.
Sarah Rosenberger-Svarda recently marked her first year of working with the PAWS project and CMS’ Book Club. “We have around 20 members in the club. This is our service project for the school year,” Svarda said. She added that the kids want to spend even more time on the project next year. “Lindsay (Frierson) was really good about letting us come in and work on creating a bond with the animals.
Lindsay is also open to anybody participating in the program. We have seen that once our kids start reading, the dogs sit down and listen.” She noted that studies have shown that reading to dogs increases empathy with them and keeps them from going “kennel crazy.”
A total of 10 students participated in the Dog Whisperer activity, which had a good response from the public, considering it was a first-time event. “This project allowed the public to meet our readers, the dogs and see the books.” The CMS students prepared for their big day by visiting the shelter twice a week—six visits were done in total. The books used were basic, fun illustrated animal stories.
The students promoted the event themselves, and seem to really bond with the dogs. Making good eye contact with the dogs caused the canines to become more settled around the students than with the adults.
Svarda feels her dog whisperer students have raised awareness about PAWS and the fine work they do for our furry friends that are ready for adoption. PAWS sponsored 2,387 pet adoptions in 2016 – 2017, including dogs, cats, and other domestic animals.
Founded in 2004 as the Rutherford County Rabies Control Center, it is now located at 285 John Rice Boulevard in Murfreesboro. For more information call (615) 898 7740,or visit their website at www.paws.rutherfordcountytn.gov