Otto and Student

It started as an idea in October of 2015, but due to the Pandemic, the program grew to be inconsistent. However, this week, 'Reading with a Retriever' made a return to Chenango Forks Elementary.

The program consists of opportunities for students to read with a 10-going-on 11-year-old Chocolate Lab named 'Otto'. 

Joelle Peltz, is the Psychologist at CFE, as well as Otto's Mom. She says the main things Otto supports are helping lower anxiety and increase motivation as well as participation in therapy. He helps to improve socialization and communication, reduce isolation and loneliness, brighten affect and mood, lessen depression and/or provide affection. 

Peltz said Otto can also help support with improving self-esteem as well as feeling important and improving feelings of self-worth. 

According to the Psychologist, from time to time, Otto is used as a reward for good student behavior as well as increasing school attendance and engagement. 

"He has a gentle way of disarming students and creating a sense of calm, happiness, and comfort" said Peltz. 

According to Peltz, Otto is 10 going on 11 years old (1/8/2012). He is a chocolate Labrador and was bred by Handy Hill Labradors in Acushnet, MA. He holds in Canine Good Cititzen (CGC), Companion Dog (CD), Dock Junior (DJ), and HydroDash Junior (HDJ) titles. He even won the Junior Dock Diving Northeast regional competition this year (for veterans, dogs 8 and over).  He loves kids and his favorite books are ones about dogs.