"Therapaws Paws to Read" : Ann Arbor District Library. All kids in grades K-5 (accompanied by a parent or guardian) are invited to read one-on-one for 10 minutes to a dog that's been trained by Intermountain Therapy to help improve kids' reading skills by behaving as if it is interested in being read to. Appointments required. AADL youth department story room, 343 S. Fifth Ave. at William, & Northeast Branch, Plymouth Mall. Free. Preregistration required. 327-8301. (emphasis added by me).
Well, maybe these dogs actually like listening to books. Maybe they're not just faking it.
This would be a good place to take kids that are not entirely comfortable around dogs. Well-trained animals that calmly sit and hang on your every word - that would help your self-confidence as well as your reading skills.
I think it would be nice to have this in schools, too. My son takes some of his "pressure release" breaks from class by going over and feeding the class guinea pig. Perhaps not coincidentally, I think this this is the best teacher he's had in the last three years.
Here's an interesting article on animals in the classroom.
Our dog (shown here) listens very intently when you say squirrel, cat, or treat, but tends to fall asleep during extended conversation or reading.