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The Wags for Words Award: Helping Children Read—One Word, One Tail Wag at a Time

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Dogs don’t judge.  They love unconditionally, are naturally soothing and petting them helps relieve stress and reduce blood pressure.  So says science — and anyone who’s ever known the love and joy of a doggie companion.

Indiana based program Paws to Read, a division of the non-profit organization Paws & Think, is the latest kindness-based initiative we are highlighting with our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award.  We are honoring Emily Dougherty, the Paws to Read Program Coordinator, with our Wags for Words Award for helping children forge friendships with books and dogs.


The mission of Paws to Read is simple: Bring children who are having difficulty reading together with therapy dogs who will reduce their anxiety and improve their focus.  Kids can read to dogs free of judgment.

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Anyone who’s ever been called on to read aloud in class knows (regardless of reading ability) that it can be stressful.  Who among us doesn’t remember the heart-racing adrenaline of being assigned this task, the embarrassment of stumbling over a word, or perhaps the feeling of lightheadedness that comes from not taking a breath at the end of a sentence?

As is true with most everything, dogs make this better.


In libraries and schools in Central Indiana, kids get to read to dogs without embarrassment or fear.  Because dogs provide an intrinsic relaxing and encouraging atmosphere, children can learn to read without getting in their heads and getting in their own way.  Dogs’ naturally soothing energy provides the safe-space feeling kids need to truly learn.

Dogs and learning to read — what could be better than that?!

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Redefining Trophy-Worthy

For those of you new to Trophy Central (welcome!) it’s important for us to note how cool it is to send a shiny trophy to Indiana, the home state of Sue Heck from the sitcom The MiddleThis is only the second time that’s happened in the four years we’ve been sending out monthly “Show Us Your Sue” trophies, and it’s very smile-inducing.

Sue Heck award Trophy Central

Sue Heck was the inspiration behind our Random Acts of Trophy-ness award because we have always found her positive, sparkly nature and her persistent, can-so spirit beyond admirable.  When we decided we wanted to give out trophies to people making the world a better place by being themselves, Sue Heck quickly became our mascot.  Because she’s not the kind of person who typically wins trophies.

Sue Heck has never been the most athletic or the most talented.  But in our minds, she is SO trophy-worthy because she never, EVER gives up on her dreams (and she inspires others to do the same).

We couldn’t be more thrilled to congratulate Emily Dougherty on winning our latest Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award for all she does to connect children to dogs and reading!  Thank you so much for all that you do!


Trophy Central readers: Do YOU know someone who deserves a shiny trophy?!  Someone who is making the world a better place by being themselves?  Then please “Show Us Your Sue”!  We want to send trophies to the underdogs of the world, those who would not generally be in the running to win a trophy but who are SO trophy-worthy because they are changing the world with their kindness and amazing spirits.  The Sue Hecks of the world who don’t make the cheerleading squad so go out and create their own darn teams!!  If you would like to nominate someone to win our Random Acts of Trophy-ness “Show Us Your Sue” award, please write to us and tell us WHY your nominee is trophy-worthy.  You can nominate our next trophy winner in the comments section below, or on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue.  We LOVE rewarding kindness and good deeds, love celebrating people who are unabashedly themselves and who inspire others to follow their dreams. 

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