Therapy Dog Comforts Readers at McAlister

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Eli is a four-year-old German Shepherd who is a wonderful listener. Each week he comes to McAlister Intermediate School and listens to children read. He is one hundred pounds and the size of a miniature horse. He is mostly black with some tan markings. His paws look like tiger paws. When he is not working, his favorite hobby is playing ball. He loves playing ball in his backyard. His favorite toy is a green gator ball. His favorite treat is a cheese stick.

Photo provided by Lisa Longo
Wayne Zhang with therapy dog Eli

Eli was born at Fidelco in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Fidelco is a nonprofit organization that breeds German Shepherds to be guide dogs. At eight weeks old, he went to live with Alison Gardocki. She was his puppy raiser. He lived with her for over a year before he went back to Fidelco for training. Ms. Gardocki took Eli everywhere with her so he could be socialized. They also took many training classes together. When Eli was fourteen months old, he moved back to Fidelco for more serious training, Eli was such a special dog. Fidelco decided to use him as a breed dog. He is the father to fourteen puppies. These puppies will hopefully go on to be guide dogs. He now lives with Ms. Gardocki. His job is to visit people to make them happy.

Every week, he visits McAlister to sit with the children while they read. Students pick a book and read to him for fifteen minutes. Eli never barks when he is with children. He cuddles up with them and listens to them read. He makes children feel comfortable and calm. Reading out loud can be hard for children but not with Eli. He is such a good listener, he makes everyone feel like they are star readers. He not only makes children happy, he also makes staff happy too. When he walks in the hall everyone comes out to say hi and give him a snuggle. All week long everyone waits for Eli to visit.

Eli the dog spreads joy and happiness whenever he goes. He is a very special canine. Eli is a beautiful German Shepherd.

About the author: Wayne is 8 years old and goes to McAlister Intermediate School. He is a 3rd grader. His favorite subject is math because he gets to learn multiplication and division. His favorite food is peperoni pizza. In his free time, he likes to listen to stories on his ipad. He likes stories about school buses and Snow White. When he grows up, he wants to be a teacher like Mrs. Saunders.

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