Fernie the reading dog

From Nine To Noon, 9:45 am on 1 April 2016

Fernie is a two-year-old chocolate Labrador who has learned to read basic words, and now he's using that skill to help children in the classroom.

His owner Nik Gardner is the head teacher at Winford Primary School in North Somerset, England, who has been taking Fernie to school every day since he was a puppy.

Mr Gardner has taught him to recognise basic words such as "sit", "roll over", and "down" when shown flashcards, and he claims that with further training Fernie could learn up to 20 more words.

"If children can see that the dog can read the flash cards, then they can do it too - so it's a huge motivation for them."

Fernie has been well-socialised to be with children and is a real hit with the school community.

"Being able to read is only a small part of what Fernie brings to the school,” Mr Gardner says.

 Fernie, it appears, is a dog of many talents as he is set to appear in an upcoming production of Annie with local drama group.

Fernie was introduced to classes as part of national scheme Dogs Helping Kids to give young learners motivation and confidence as well as to teach non-violence, empathy, and trust.

The vision of the charity is to have a dog working and helping in every school and library in the UK.

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to Nine To Noon

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)