When an upside down, wrinkly-faced English mastiff named “Chewie” appeared on the front cover of the Cloverdale Reporter in June, 2010, we described him as having the face of a listener.
That’s because Chewie (“Chewbacca”) is a 200-pound therapy dog who’s also been trained to help young learners gain confidence reading.
At the time, he was working with students at Don Christian Elementary, where once a week, Chewie was listening as children read to him in a relaxing, safe, non-judgmental environment, improving their reading skills simply by listening.
He and his handler, B.J. Fleetham of South Cloverdale, are part of the Reading Education Assistance Dogs program.
Last year they were working with students at another local school, Hazelgrove Elementary.
This Sunday, Chewie is up for a position of honour – he’ll be leading the Paws For A Cause walk-a-thon at Crescent Park in South Surrey, one of 35 walks taking place across the province for the BC SPCA.
Chewie will be joined as special guests by Fleetham’s other therapy dogs: Liam, a lanky Irish Wolfhound, and Special Agent Magee, a bloodhound who has just received his AKC Therapy Dog title; the team works with the BC SPCA as part of education programs, including the summer day camps for children.
Chewie, she says, has a laid-back personality and loves his job working with kids.
The BC SPCA hopes to raise $1 million for its programs and work with abused, injured, neglected and homeless animals who are cared for in SPCA shelters.
Participants raise pledges, and invite friends and family to join them – and their furry, four-legged companions.
Surrey’s walk is at Crescent Park, 2610 128 Street. Registration is at 9:30 a.m.
For more information, visit www.spca.bc.ca.