GLEN ROCK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey dog is receiving a high honor.
Liberty, a Golden Labrador, was recently named one of Milk-Bone’s “Dogs Who Changed the World.” The company said the dogs featured on the list “display valor, courage and kindness,” and “work hard to make a difference in the lives of humans and animals.”
Liberty is a therapy dog and often visits hospitals and hospices to comfort patients, but she also goes to schools, where she helps children improve their reading skills. She sits quietly, as children circle around, and take turns reading aloud.
“I don’t know why but I’ve seen it in action, where a child will have a tendency to read to a dog but not read to an adult or another child,” said owner Tom Meli. “They think it’s because the dog just shows this unconditional love, it doesn’t judge and it’s just easier for the child to do it.”
Meli said during one of their school visits, he witnessed a teacher cry.
“She said that little boy who just read that whole page to Liberty never read aloud before,” Meli said.
Meli’s wife teaches at the Academy of Our Lady in Glen Rock and when Liberty comes to visit, the fifth graders can’t stop hugging and petting her.
“She’s so fluffy and lovable,” one student said.
“She’s fun and she’s very playful,” another student said.
Meli and his wife started the foundation, The Mickey’s Kids Charitable Foundation, to raise money for Canine Assistants, a group in Georgia that trains service dogs.