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Goldendoodle helps non-verbal children find their voice

Posted at 7:13 AM, May 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 07:20:49-04

ANCHORAGE, AK -- A group of children considered non-verbal are getting lessons in self-expression -- from a teacher who walks on four legs.

Swivel Shot the goldendoodle visits a class at Baxter Elementary School in Anchorage every week. The class is made up of children who have difficulty communicating.

Swivel Shot with vest

"They might say some words but they're not able to communicate like a two-way conversation," said Kristine Garvey-Pabon, who teaches the class.

That's where Swivel Shot comes in. She helps the children complete tasks like brushing teeth, or reading a book.

Child with woof sign

They also watch Swivel Shot "read" -- her owner, Sheila Barrett, holds signs, reads a command off the sign, and then has Swivel Shot "say it" .

"Woof" said one sign. Swivel Shot barked after seeing it.

Her visits make a difference.

Petting Swivel Shot

"Sometimes we get words out of the kids that we aren't expecting just out of the blue and you're just like, 'oh yeah, this is great!'" Barrett said.

The class has students from first to fifth grade.