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Meet Derby, the new therapy dog at Niles High School

Therapy in the form of a four legged friend in Niles.

After a student tragically took his own life last fall, a principal’s dream, a few years in the making, is coming true.

With the help of a school guidance counselor, students at Niles High School will have a new therapy dog starting Tuesday.

Monday night, the school board approved the dog, and they hope the lasting impact on students will be a positive one.

 Derby is a seven and half year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and a newly certified therapy dog.

Her owner and handler is Niles High School Guidance Counselor, Carrie Rinehart.

After one student took his own life this past October, an idea was born to help students going through hardship.

“I kind of looked around, and was helping facilitate our students who needed help at that time. It made me think about the suggestion our principal Molly Brawley had to therapy dogs. And the fact she was so well trained to begin with,” said Rinehart.

 Principal Molly Brawley thought it was about time to make this idea a reality.

 “The kids will react the same way the adults do. She just brings a sense of peace – and petting her in relaxing,” said Brawley.

And on the night before her big debut, Derby had a dress rehearsal, making acquaintances rather quickly.

 With a wag, a prance and effervescent energy, Derby dares you not to be delighted.

“Research shows that even petting a dog, can alleviate some anxiety and lowers blood pressure. And you can see with some of the kids after school today, dogs just make people happy,” said Rinehart.

Administrators are calling this a pilot program and as Derby eventually settles in, they will start taking her into more classrooms.

They say with time and success, they may bring in another dog to join the pack.

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