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Therapy Dogs Help Military Kids With Special Needs Find Love Of Reading

USMC

Olivia Figueroa, a 7-year-old with the Exceptional Family Member Program, reads a book to Muddy, a Labrador Retriever with Independent Therapy Dogs, Inc., at the Library aboard MCAS Miramar on Feb. 13.

Military children with special needs in the San Diego area recently got the chance to read to an adoring audience - therapy dogs.

The non-profit group Independent Therapy Dogs, Inc. brought pups of all sizes to MCAS Miramar last week to participate in the "Ruff Readers" program.

Independent Therapy Dogs, Inc. volunteer Mary Conklin of Carlsbad explained to MCAS Miramar public affairs why she participated:

“We bring the dogs here for the kids to read to, because the kids need someone, or in this case, something, that will listen to them without correcting or reacting to them if they mess up a word or pronunciation."

Marine Chief Warrant Officer 3 Angelica Figueroa says her 7-year-old daughter Olivia was thrilled to learn about Ruff Readers.

Olivia is a member of the Exceptional Family Member Program. She was born 13 weeks premature, and suffers from both chronic lung disease and liver disease. She also has a seizure disorder.

But Angelica says Olivia is not only a lifelong fighter, but a lover - of reading and of dogs.

“Her first passion is reading. She’s been doing it since she was four years old. Her other passion is dogs, so this event has just been perfect for her.”

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