Bristol's Pip 'the wonder pup' helps calm nervous readers at a primary school

Pip in his 'school uniform' which he wears when he listens to children reading Credit: Libby Bowles

A dog that became famous after becoming lost before navigating almost five miles home through Bristol is helping children learn to read.

Pip 'the wonder pup' made headlines after becoming lost from his owner while chasing squirrels in Leigh Woods in September. After frantically searching for her pet for 90 minutes, owner Libby Bowles could not find him.

But Pip was undeterred and was caught on CCTV cameras around the city making the 4.6 mile journey in 90 minutes, arriving back home in Bedminster 20 minutes before Libby.

Now, the therapy dog has turned to helping young children at St Mary Redcliffe Primary School with their reading skills.

He has been taking part in a scheme that sees him 'listen' to young people who struggle with literacy, run by charity Pets as Therapy.

Pip was captured on CCTV running across Bristol, including crossing the Clifton Suspension Bridge

Whereas children who usually struggle with their reading are taken out of the classroom to read to an adult, the scheme sees them read to Pip instead. The idea is that this allows children to build their confidence reading.

"The scheme is amazing", Libby said.

"The dog listens to the child reading, they don't correct them if they make mistakes, which means [children] don't have to worry if they get things wrong - they just give it a go."

Pip has now visited schoolchildren at St Mary Redcliffe Primary School seven or eight times since October and in this short time, the Spanish rescue dog has already proved a hit.

"Even just in the time Pip's been in school, they've noticed a really big difference with the children. All of the children are desperate to read to Pip - going to red to Pip is like a treat," Libby said.

"It gets rid of all the negative connotations with [reading]," she added.

Pip with Paul, who works at the Clifton Suspension Bridge and discovered the footage of the dog running across Bristol Credit: Libby Bowles

While Pip and his owner have now recently moved away the school and swapped Bristol for Braunton, in Devon; Libby is hoping that her dog will provide help and support wherever he goes.

She is intending to re-enrol Pip with Pets as Therapy when the pair are settled, to support more young children who struggle with reading.

"It's a really wonderful, positive scheme and it's had a really wonderful, positive effect," she said. "It's so rewarding, it's honestly one of my favourite times of the week."