A local dog with an amazing talent

ALBERT LEA, Minn.- From guiding the blind, to comforting the sick, dogs are known to do some amazing things. But, a local teacher has taught her canine companion a very unique skill and she’s using it to help teach her students a valuable lesson.

In Peggy Bennett’s first grade classroom, reading rules.

“What do you need to do to get better at reading?” Peggy asked the students. “Read, read, read!” the entire class replied. “Read, read, read, you have to practice,” Peggy said.

This week, the students got a reading lesson that goes beyond books. She’s getting some help from her savvy Shiloh Shepard named Coulter. Peggy has taught Coulter how to read.

Peggy holds up cards with printed words one them, including “paw,” “sit,” and “down.” Coulter follows the commands on the cards. Peggy trains Coulter by first pairing verbal commands with the printed words. She eventually removes the verbal commands. Peggy says Coulter recognizes the shape of the words.

“I thought it was amazing. I had no idea that a dog had that big of a brain,” said Nicholas Belshan, a student in Peggy’s class.

Peggy says Coulter is a quick study.

“I would say, within about two days he started to get the idea of what it was and then it took probably another two days to get it down pretty well,” said Peggy.

She believes bringing her perceptive pooch to the classroom helps instill positive habits in her students and also helps her reach the kids on a whole new level.

You can teach the mind, the brain, and kids will learn. But if you get the human component and they connect to you through animals or whatever, you can get so much more learning. And so that’s why I do it,” said Peggy.

Peggy is a teacher at Sibley Elementary School in Albert Lea.

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