Fifth-grader Donita is reading aloud from a children’s book while a Bernese mountain dog called Hilma-Maria listens attentively. When Donita scratches Hilma’s chin, the big dog’s eyes close blissfully.
Hilma is no ordinary dog – she’s a “reading dog,” on the job today at Hovirinta School in Kaarina, a town in southwestern Finland. Hilma’s mistress, Maarit Haapasaari, who is with her in the small classroom, started to use reading dogs in Kaarina in 2011, bringing the method to Finland for the first time.
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