Therapy dogs are making a difference for Chippewa Falls middle schoolers

These two furry friends work as therapy dogs at Chippewa Falls Middle School.
These two furry friends work as therapy dogs at Chippewa Falls Middle School.(WEAU)
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 8:57 PM CST
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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -School can be tough for tweens and teens especially during the last two years of the pandemic.

Some furry friends are making a paws-itive difference at one Chippewa Valley middle school.

On a normal day at Chippewa Falls Middle School somewhere in the building you’ll likely find Charlie or his fellow four-legged friend Lucky.

They’re both licensed therapy dogs.

Each weekday, one of them gets to go to work with Krista Dahlby, a speech and language pathologist at the school.

“The dogs provide a lot of different opportunities through the day of how that they can be helpful, so, you know, probably the most simple thing is when kids walk around the school or entering the school in the morning they see the dogs, and it puts a smile on their face,” Dahlby said.

Dahlby started bringing Charlie to school six years ago.

She got the idea when she worked at another school district.

“We were working with a student who was struggling with some emotional challenges, and the dog made such a huge impact on her ability to connect with that student that it got me thinking about wanting to bring my own dog in,” Dahlby said.

Mental health therapist Lisa Dorn with the Marshfield Clinic Riverview Center saw the impact a dog can have firsthand when she worked as a school-based therapist.

“They would oftentimes talk to me about things that they wouldn’t ever say without the presence of a pet, so I’ve seen a really positive impact when a dog is in the room, and we’re doing therapy,” Dorn said.

At Chippewa Falls Middle School Dahlby said Charlie and Lucky are making that difference for students.

“The administrators come get the dogs. The counselors come and get the dogs. Teachers request the dogs to be in their room for an incentive for students,” Dahlby said. “Teachers who have a child they need to give an individual incentive to they might say: ‘Okay, well if you get your work done, you can go take Charlie for a walk, or you can got pet the dogs for a little bit.’”

At the end of the day Dahlby said her two dogs help give students the best experience they can have.

According to Dahlby, Charlie and Lucky are not the only therapy dogs at the school.

Other staff members have also gotten their dogs certified.

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