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Cultured canines: Kids read pup lit to pack of pooches at Park Slope bookstore

Down boy: German shepherd Fonzie was so impressed by the PS 107 students’ scholastic abilities, he had to lie down during the tots’ Friday reading at Park Slope bookstore Powerhouse on Eighth — but it’s okay Fonzie, reading is hard work!
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These tots are doggone adorable!

Park Slope youngsters shared story time with a pack of dogs on Nov. 17, which they read aloud to at a local bookstore during an annual event that organizers said was lit-erally one of the nabe’s most adorable yet.

“It was super cute,” said Mary Huhn, co-chair of Eighth Avenue elementary school PS 107’s parent-teacher association’s Beast Relief Committee, which organized the event at bookseller Powerhouse on Eighth.

Kids from three first-grade classes at the nearby school shared their favorite titles with Fido at the session, which provided a way for them to practice reading out loud in front of a judgement-free audience that, in this case, was comprised of specially trained therapy canines, according to Huhn.

And if the simple act of five and six-year-old tykes reading books about dogs — including “Hot Dog, Cold Dog” by Frann Preston-Gannon and “Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion — to dogs isn’t cute enough, some of the children spent days practicing for the event, the organizer said, a fact that should melt even the coldest heart.

“One of the classes brought their own books and rehearsed reading to dogs several days before the event,” Huhn said. “They were ready to read!”

The four-legged listeners included two dogs named Luna — a Staffordshire labrador mix and a rescue mutt — along with labradoodle Rookie, golden-doodle Josie, Spinone Italiano Cosi, and Fonzie, a German shepherd.

All of the loveable furballs are registered therapy pooches with a service organization that required them and their handlers to spend six weeks learning how to interact with kids — as well as oldsters and hospital patients — before being dispatched to bless clients with the gift of unconditional love, according to a group member.

“It’s to make sure they’re ready to bring smiles and comfort in the field — and that they’re on their best behavior,” said Nicole Gilpin, visit coordinator at the Good Dog Foundation.

And that training was on full display at the reading session, where both humans and animals were recognized for their good behavior, according to another attendee.

“They were equally well behaved,” said Renee Payne, the head of the training program at the Good Dog Foundation, who brought Fonzie to the event. “Everyone handled themselves very nicely.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 11:34 am, November 21, 2017
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