At K-9 Reading Buddies of the North Shore, we offer an array of fulfilling volunteering opportunities for dogs and owners alike. Our mission is to help children read aloud to trained therapy dogs, whose presence contributes significantly to a comforting, welcoming learning environment.

To achieve this, we need volunteers. Should you choose to join us, you will help the next generation overcome obstacles and meet their reading goals.

But how can you become a K-9 Reading Buddy volunteer? Do you need a dog to help us? What qualities are required, and how can you get in touch? We’ll outline all of these concerns in the blog below.

What Volunteer Roles Are Available?

You can’t know how to become a K-9 Reading Buddy volunteer unless you know what’s involved in working alongside us! Here at K-9 Reading Buddies of the North Shore, we pride ourselves on providing a host of volunteering roles that are each rewarding in their own ways.

As a K-9 Reading Buddy Mentor, you’ll register yourself and your dog, shadow us, train, and then join the team. After that, you’ll be eligible to sign up and offer your services, as you and your dog interact with the kids on our front line. Both of you will work in tandem to provide company, encouragement, and support and ensure everyone is getting an enriching experience.

As a Services Coordinator, you’ll be helping run the day-to-day logistics of our efforts. Though we are sure that your dog is a very good boy or girl, if you have one, we kindly ask that you don’t bring your pup with you for this role. Here, you’ll be managing reading nights at our library, setting up festival booths, and organizing community outreach events at places like dog-friendly retailers, youth organizations, and teacher associations. Ultimately, this position is about keeping the show on the road.

Finally, there are the Youth Volunteer opportunities for children over 12, and once again, puppies aren’t required here. Our existing readers frequently stay on as Youth Volunteers once they’ve aged out of our services, pitching in wherever they can to keep the good vibes going. If you fit the age bracket or have your own kids who you’d like to bring along, then there’s a lot to be gained and enjoyed here.

As you can see, we pride ourselves on having a broad spectrum of roles available. No matter your strengths or skills, there’s something for everyone to do to enrich their lives and communities.

What Qualities Do You Need?

Being a K-9 Reading Buddy volunteer means you need an abundance of well-polished qualities to thrive in your role. After all, a great deal of responsibility will be placed upon you, as we’re working with children and animals.

As we’re encouraging kids to find fun and fulfillment in their reading, a love of books or other materials will help you excel during your time with us. Being well-read and intrigued by literature will put you in a better position to encourage and educate while also helping you answer queries about what material the children are reading.

When it comes to working with at-risk readers, expecting the unexpected is a critical tenant in what we do. Therefore, we anticipate volunteers to adapt to any situation presented to them sensitively and to be a beacon of support and problem-solving in the face of any difficulties that come their way. You will be looked to for assistance and guidance in settings like elementary schools and public libraries, especially as a K-9 Reading Buddy Mentor, so rising to make the most of those moments is critical. ZOOM calls are also all the rage with us too!

The kids we work with range from 3-4 year old all the way up to college kids looking for some stress relief. Each age group will need to interact in their own way, so being tactile in listening and addressing their concerns and reading efforts is also essential.

What Qualities Does Your Dog Need?

If you’re volunteering as a K-9 Reading Buddy Mentor, your dog will also need sufficient training before he or she embarks on the journey to literacy with us. We ask that they’re certified as a therapy dog so that we can all be sure they have met the standards required to work safely with everyone here.

We expect them to be well-behaved already and be comfortable and confident around people of all types and behaviors. We hope they love people just as much as we love them! Calm, relaxed, and friendly pups are what we are looking for, as this is what will best create a settled, relaxing, yet sociable reading atmosphere. Persistent chewing, barking, and barreling around rooms will break that illusion.

Your faithful companion must also be clean and well-groomed so that he or she is safe to be interacted with by kids. Many children like to cuddle and pet the dogs often between pages, so keeping your best friend nice and tidy will ensure an endearing experience for all.

How Do You Get In Touch?

Does everything check out so far? Good! The final step is to get in touch with us to iron out all the proceedings and get you (and maybe even your doggo) started. We can’t wait to have you on board with us, spreading the good cheer of reading!

Visit our contact page for all of our information to help you kick things off and get started. We’ll ask for your name, email and to write us a message. This will help us gleam why you’re interested in working with us and what you can bring to the respective roles you’re intrigued by, so go crazy in there. We’ll be happy to answer any queries or concerns you have just as soon as possible. Don’t hold back!

Our address and social media profiles are also all there for you to browse, so there’s plenty of opportunities still to keep the dialogue moving and to find out more. Friend us on Facebook, stay updated on all our goings-on, and get in touch with us if you are interested in working alongside us. We’d love to hear from you.