Therapy Dogs

Aleksandra Graic, Specialty Editor

If you didn’t already know, Wayne Valley now has therapy dogs! These are trained dogs that come twice a month to provide affection and comfort to the students and faculty members at our school.  If you haven’t visited them yet, it’s highly recommended.

While the dogs have been able to come in at infrequent times in past years, Mr. Cheval, one of Wayne Valley’s beloved guidance counselors, has made it possible for them to visit regularly.  The therapy dogs now visit twice a month!  They are in the small gym every second and fourth Tuesday of the month.

One of the dogs, Zoey, a small poodle, is hypoallergenic.  This means that even those with fur allergies can visit her. Mr. Cheval has made sure to make the program accessible to all members of our school community.

“I think the program has been super successful,” states Cheval.  Last year, when the school was still majorly affected by Covid, Cheval was able to see how valuable the program is to the students.  During their visits towards the end of the year he says, “It was really, incredibly successful to have the kids be able to be outside, socialize, meet and talk with some of the handlers, pet the dogs, and just kind of have a break.”

  Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs Inc. has put many smiles on the faces of students at other schools as well.  “Wayne Hills has reached out to me and they’ve expanded their therapy dog program as well. I do know that the therapy dogs visit some of the other elementary and middle schools,” says Cheval, “If there’s a way for us to expand it even more… That would be great.”

Another guidance counselor at Wayne valley, Mr. Imperatore, has worked with Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs Inc. closely as well. Imperatore has a mixed pomeranian and australian cattle dog named Molly, which recently became a certified therapy dog.  Molly also pays visits to the school, sometimes even on Fridays!

Imperatore says, “When we first got her, her temperament and attitude was probably one of the best I’ve seen in a dog. We immediately fell in love with her.”  Molly undertook two years of intense training successfully and can now spread joy in our community. “I feel like everyone needs a little love from a dog every once in a while,” claims Imperatore. 

So, when things get stressful or you just feel like you need something to make you smile, visit the dogs.  If you have a dog of your own, consider training them to help others feel better. Mr. Imperatore recommends Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs Inc. training programs to all dog owners.