Seven-year-old Lauren Vannostrand loves to read. Two-year-old Labrador Retriever Mildred loves to listen.
Together they are a good combination.
"The connection between the dogs and the kids is amazing," said Jennifer Bement, the spokeswoman for Southeastern Guide Dogs in Sarasota.
The organization has a program called BARC, or Be a Reader to Canines. And if you're looking for a good program this summer, this could be it.
"They can sit on the floor, read a story to a dog and it's a no judgment zone," Bement said.
All the dogs that children read to are service dogs in training.
"It's a great way for kids to learn about guide dogs and to understand that this puppy might be in training right now, and they get to play with it and everything, but one day that dog is going to grow up and actually guide somebody and keep them safe," Bement said.
The reading helps socialize the animals and helps the children become more confident.
"It's fun and the dogs just lay and listen to the book that you're reading to them," Vannostrand said.
Sometimes the passed-out pets prefer the pictures - but either way you'll never find the listeners complaining.
"The great thing about the dogs is the dog doesn't care if you make a mistake," Vonnostrand's mother, Sarah, said.
And when asked what stories the dogs like best, little Lauren said "um, dog books."
Lauren tries to stop by at least once a week to read to the dogs. As for Mildred, his ears are always open.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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