Moms First: Derby the therapy dog finds purpose at Niles High School

One local high school has gone to the dogs-- literally.

Niles High School has an official certified therapy dog, Derby.

Its goal is to reduce stress for students during a crisis situation and to help calm the students during daily life throughout the school year.

“It pretty much brings joy to everyone when they see Derby in the halls, or if they go to the office and see her moving around, or even outside throwing the ball to Derby,” said senior, Dawson Clemens.

In February, Carrie Rinehart, a guidance counselor at Niles High School, introduced the students to 8-year-old Chesapeake Retriever, Derby.

"It's been really positive there's an ownership that I feel like there's a pride and I didn't expect they would feel like kids see her as our dog.” Said Rinehart.

Students like Alexander Huffman say it's the highlight of his day to be able to hang out with Derby even for just a few minutes.

“I love derby, I love her to pieces. Personally I feel that the stress throughout the day I don't know she just makes me kind of forget about it so it's kind of nice,” he said.

Alexander is not alone. Student after student lights up when Derby walks the halls.

Rinehart says the goal is to have Derby help during crisis situations and to reduce daily stress and anxiety for students.

"Having something close to you that safe you're not exactly walking up and hugging students and she would be able to do that and it's a very safe thing to do,” she said.

Derby has been such a hit at Niles High School, other teachers and administrators have made inquiries into the program and more therapy dogs could possibly come to other area schools throughout the district in the future.

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