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Pay it 4ward: ‘Creatures and Kids’ use animals to help those read


EDMOND, Okla. — If you have a pet, I suspect you know our four-legged family members can sense emotions. They’re often on hand to calm or comfort us.

There’s a program in Edmond that utilizes this “Animal ESP” to help kids. It was started by a woman who realized the animals can often reach children where humans have failed.

Even in something as simple as reading.

There is a very special place where children read to a most unusual audience; dogs.

The trained pups help the kids relax so small fingers glide easily over unfamiliar print.

“You can see that change actually occur as it goes on,” Lugene Jones says. “You can see their confidence develop and when their confidence develops, that carries over into the classroom.”

Jones is one of the many volunteers, both human and canine, who make up “Creatures and Kids.”

“The dogs are not judgmental,” Jones says.

There are certified therapy dogs like Maggie, who wait patiently but are free with wordless praise when appropriate.

“Creatures and Kids” volunteer in libraries, hospitals, anywhere needed.

The non-profit was organized by Penny Nichols; who has no idea about the surprise that’s coming.

“I’m Amy Troutman from Spirit Bank. It sounds like Penny has a really worthwhile project going on. So we’re here to pay it forward,” Troutman says.

“I just expected to see a halo around your head,” Linda Cavanaugh jokingly says to Penny.

“You have a lot of friends spearheaded by Lugene. Lugene nominated you as one of our winners. It goes to someone who’s made a difference in the community. Who has given of himself or herself, and touches lives. You’ve been nominated to receive the award,” Linda explains.

“Penny, on behalf of Spirit Bank, and for the group “Creatures and kids,” we want you to know what a difference you have made in so many lives,” Lugene Jones says.

“I appreciate that,” Penny replies.

“How grateful we are that you’re part of ours. We love you, honey. We love you. Thank you,” Jones tells Penny. “Here, Penny, thank you for everything, you’re great.”

Penny’s project has touched young and old alike.

“We’ve had everything from cat to canine. And of course, the miniature horses are a big part of it as well,” Penny Nichols explans.

These kids will likely never meet the woman who put their reading program together, but she will have marked their lives for years to come.

“She is one of the more loving women I have ever met. She truly has concern for everyone around her. She is an example to me of love in action and someone who truly has a servant’s heart,” Lugene Jones says.

If you know of someone who deserves to be nominated for our pay it forward program.

You can nominate them here: