Scott And Charlie
January 4, 2021
Cherokee Middle School students may do a little more “doodling” second semester starting this month (January), but also will improve their attendance marks because of a special attraction at the school, courtesy of Principal Scott Aden.
Aden, an effective, caring administrator, has acquired and will house and handle a young female Golden Doodle (Charlie) that he is more than happy to train to serve as the CMS “therapy dog,” a popular trend in schools that provides vast benefits for students, faculty and staff.
In a meaningful letter to the District in September in which Aden’s request was overwhelmingly approved, Aden wrote:
“I am asking the Cherokee School Board to consider supporting the use of my therapy dog, a Golden Doodle, in the Cherokee Middle School.
“Our schools have students who come from homes experiencing poverty, single
parenting situations, forms of abuse, neglect and other disadvantages. These
experiences cause trauma in students which in turn can lead to them being in a state of dysregulation. Traumatic experiences can lead to anxiety, depression and other forms of mental illnesses. The brokenness our students experience follows them to school, and the implications that arise because of these hardships can have a significant negative impact on behaviorand can lend to a lack of focus in our classrooms.
“Each day, students with emotional issues sit in school reluctant to participate in class or group activities, withdrawn from peers, acting out with behaviors or go to the nurse to receive attention. Some isolate themselves and have attendance issues. These
students DO NOT go unnoticed! My heart aches for them, and I believe a therapy
dog would be another tool that would help us reach these students, build
relationships with them, and provide another means of comfort for them.”
Therapy animals are known for helping people to improve self-esteem, develop social
skills, and provide comfort to those who have anxiety. Their presence is soothing and
has been documented to lower blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety.
Working with a therapy animal has also resulted in behavioral improvement in children and a reduction in depression for elderly. Pet therapy is gaining significant respect in the area of counseling and a variety of clinical settings.
“I realize a therapy dog will not solve all problems, but I do know that this could be an
extremely helpful and valuable tool for us to help the kids we love and care for every
day,” added Aden.
•Golden Doodle’s Certifications and Training:
Goldendoodle– a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Standard Poodle. Because of their temperament, Goldendoodles are often chosen for use as therapy dogs. They are widely known as companion dogs with temperaments that are described as friendly and outgoing, strongly human-oriented with a love for pleasing their human friends. Their kind, friendly eyes express character, intelligence, and are very inviting which helps to relieve fear of dogs that some students might experience.
Aden will certify the dog through a therapy/service dog training organization. The certification will consist of a battery of tests completed by a certified evaluator for the American Kennel Club (AKC) Community Canines.
The testing took place in a hospital facility and involved the following:
Accepting a friendly stranger
Sitting politely for petting
Appearance and grooming
Out for a walk – walking on a loose lead
Walking through a crowd
Sit and down on command and staying in place
Coming when called
Reaction to another dog
Reaction to distraction
Supervised separation from handler
AKC Good Citizen Test (will be completed)
AKC Advanced Canine Good Citizen Test/Therapy Dog Training Test
(will be completed)
Therapy dog training costs:
Aden will continue to incur the financial responsibility of the Golden Doodle costs.
Initial cost of dog $750 (Education Foundation agreed to pay up to $1000); Annual vet bills, vaccines, grooming costs, food, etc.; Therapy Dog Handler Certification workshop/testing; AKC Good Citizen Dog Evaluation fee Costs.
Possible ways GoldenDoodle will be used at CMS:
Create a focus group for students with behavioral, emotional and attendance issues
Assist with calming an angry or upset student (example from Omaha school- time and
time again they see the presence of a dog de-escalate situations)
Earned time with the dog as a reward
Teach responsibility—grooming, feeding, walking and vet care required
Basic dog training- the process and techniques —TLC students
Reading to dogs (Reading Pups)- can be used to assist students with speech and
reading difficulties and build their confidence
Write a letter to the dog (example from Omaha school- elementary student shared with
the dog she was being bullied. Parents and teachers weren’t aware it was happening.)
Concerns – those with allergies and fear of dogs – August Student Registration (2021-2022)
According to Aden, student registration would be a good time to share general information concerning the training and certifications for GoldenDoodle and how she will be used in the school.
In conclusion Aden said, “Having a therapy dog would be a tremendous benefit to the students of Cherokee Middle School. A dog will help many students feel loved, provide companionship, and give staff another tool for assisting our students. I have done much research in the area of pet therapy and believe in its benefits.”