What started out as a way to keep an older dog active turned into an innovative literacy program helping thousands of Chicago Public Schools each year. SitStayRead was born as a community outreach program at Call of the Wild School for Dogs in Chicago.
In early 2003, MaryEllen Schneider was managing Call of the Wild and volunteering at Rainbow Animal-Assisted Therapy with her dog, Shandy. As Shandy was nearing ten, it was beginning to look like she might have to retire from working with children in the very active volunteer program. MaryEllen realized that Shandy could sit and read with kids well into her golden years.
Sarah Murphy and MK Czerwiec were clients training their dogs at Call of the Wild and agreed to participate. Sarah had recently left her marketing job at the Shedd Aquarium and MK had left nursing to pursue life as as Comic Nurse. After a few meetings — and at Sarah’s persuasion — the threesome realized this innovative idea could be more than an outreach program.
With the help of our amazing volunteers, we’ve grown dramatically since those early library visits.
Special thanks to photographer David Sutton of Sutton Studios for capturing all our staff, board, and founders in these beautiful pictures with their pets!