There's something about a dog that provides comfort.  So, what better place for a dog to be than inside a classroom helping children who are struggling?

At Erie First Christian Academy, dogs are helping students with their reading.  Some kids struggle with reading. The best way to gauge their progress is for them to read out loud. However, just as some adults fear public speaking, some children fear reading in front of their teachers and classmates. Especially those who struggle with reading.

"Because they know that everyone can hear them and people are listening and it's hard for them,” says Melanee Vogt.

Mrs. Vogt has taught reading at Erie First Christian Academy for 19 years. She knows that children relax and gain self-confidence when they read to a dog. Three furry friends from Therapy Dogs United visited the school earlier this week to just to cozy up to the kids and to listen.

"Even to just pet the dog as they're reading is a great calming effect.  It reduces stress, anxiety. They're just reading to a dog and petting.  So that in itself is big,” says Mrs. Vogt.

How big is it?  A study was conducted by Mrs. Vogt and Therapy Dogs United at First Christian Academy. The study was done seven years ago in conjunction with Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

"We had a control group and then we had a group that read to dogs.  The control group, they sat in their seats, they did their own silent reading and the other kids, they got to read to dogs,” says Mrs. Vogt.

That situation went on five days a week for five weeks.  Then the groups switched.

"We did see reading scores go up as far as fluency goes.  The kids that read to the dogs, they went up 37 words per minute where the control group that read at their desk went up 27 words per minute."

The bottom line is the kids are having fun while learning.  They made a new friend who keeps his eyes open, doesn't interrupt and does not correct them as they read out loud.