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By Grant Bissell

St. Louis (KSDK) - Groucho Marx once said "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend."

A local group is combining books and dogs to help children to read, especially those who struggle with reading out loud.

Welcome to Whiskers and Tales, a reading program like no other.

Volunteers bring their dogs to St. Louis area libraries and kids get a chance to interact with the pooches in a very unique way.

The kids pick a favorite book, then cozy up with a dog and start reading out loud.

So, why read to dogs? As smart as they are, they can't really understand the stories. But kids and parents say they're really good listeners.

"Sometimes kids are afraid to read out loud, afraid that someone will laugh," said mother Cathy Daugherty. "It's very comfortable to read to an animal that is just laying there as you pet it. It can be very therapeutic, too."

Jackie Bode volunteers with Love on a Leash, the group that brings the dogs. She says the program builds confidence for young readers who might otherwise shy away from books.

"The idea, I think is that all kids need to be reading more. And a dog or cat isn't going to judge them if they don't know a word or if they have any issues with saying something out loud," said Bode.

Every dog goes through weeks of training before it can become a member of the group. Bode and her dog, Perry, graduated in September, and you can tell he's suited for the job.

"He loves little kids and he's very calm. When I first got him the people I got him from were carrying him around like a baby. When I saw that it was like that's the dog for me," she said.

Love on a Leash is a non-profit group made up entirely of volunteers. They also visit hospitals and nursing homes.

Click hereto make a donation or get involved with Love on a Leash.

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