Retired teacher, wiener dog making a difference

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Tucked in a corner in the library at Coosada Elementary School, Betty Pullin says something magical is happening.

"A dog doesn't judge you when you read or what words you mispronounce," said Pullin.

We found a group of first graders learning the art of reading, learning in the presence of 'Cinnamon,' a small Dashund. The whole idea is to make reading fun, not a chore. Betty Pullin says 'Cinnamon' is the star of the show, not her.

"I could sit and hear the children read to me but it wouldn't be as meaningful," said Pullin, who retired from teaching in the public and private schools after 25 years.

If you're wondering how Betty Pullin came up with the idea, well, that's a story in itself.

"I was laying in bed one day and decided the two of us were getting lazy and found a trainer," said Pullin.

First grader Hannah Nelson gives Pullin and 'Cinnamon' an 'A+' for making that decision because Hannah will be the first to admit she didn't find reading a whole lot of fun. But that's all changed now thanks to her newfound four-legged friend.

"I don't like reading alone," Nelson said.

The school librarian says she hasn't seen this kind of interaction before. She applauds the efforts and has no doubt it's making a difference for those who are struggling with words and reading.

'Cinnamon' is a puppy dog of few words but it's her happiness that comforts the kids.

We know what the children are getting out of 'Cinnamon' being at Coosada Elementary but what's in it for the dog?

"We mention 'school' at home and she just goes to the doggie door and goes to the car," said Pullin.

Betty Pullin and her puppy dog show up twice a week at Coosada Elementary, trips they've been making since early fall.

One word at a time with Cinnamon at their feet, encouraging them with affection.

Email Bryan Henry at if you have a Making A Difference idea.