Meet Summer, CHC’s Therapy Dog in Training 

Cherry Hills Christian School is thrilled to introduce the newest member of the family – Summer, the therapy dog! Our Foundations Teacher, Cindy Benn is nurturing and preparing Summer for certification. 

Summer is a mini–Golden Doodle pup with a sweet disposition and a heart for children. She is expected to complete her training this spring or summer, aiming for her to be on campus regularly by Fall 2024.  

What is a Therapy Dog? 

Therapy dogs serve a broad community of people as opposed to serving a single person like service dogs do. Therapy dogs go through several layers of training and certifications including a Canine Good Citizen test and a Therapy Dog Certification through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Summer should be able to obey her handler, follow basic commands, tolerate petting and awkward handling, not be startled easily by noises or sudden movements, give focus to the handler through loud and busy areas, and more! Once Summer has passed all her tests and receives her certification, she will serve on CHC’s campus up to 3 times per week.  

What to Expect from Summer at CHC 

CHC families and students will encounter and be able to interact with Summer during carpool, in the halls, classrooms, counseling office, and even catching a nap in Mrs. Benn’s office. Students can interact with Summer by petting her, saying hello, reading to her, and more. 

Summer’s presence in the counseling department is eagerly anticipated, where she will work alongside Counselor, Becky King, to help students cope with anxiety and tough days. Therapy dogs, such as Summer, are known to alleviate stress and anxiety by regulating cortisol levels and decreasing blood pressure and heart rate. 

Additional benefits Summer can provide include: 

  • Enhancing children’s self-esteem and confidence 
  • Offering unconditional acceptance 
  • Promoting positive emotional development 
  • Increasing academic involvement 
  • Encouraging a sense of calm and focus 
  • Enhancing concentration 
  • Calming stressful situations 
  • Boosting motivation and engagement 
  • Establishing trust and connection 
  • Providing a sense of security 
  • Supplying social and emotional support 
  • Assisting young readers in gaining confidence 

Summer at CHC

Summer Working Alongside the Foundations Program  

The CHC Foundations class teaches students cognitive skills needed to control thoughts, emotions, and actions to accomplish tasks and achieve goals. As the Foundations Teacher, Mrs. Benn is eager for students to apply the skills they acquire in Foundations, such as refocusing attention, ignoring distractions, transitioning between tasks, practicing impulse control, and developing other executive functioning skills introduced in Foundations. 

With Mrs. Benn’s teaching skills along with her prior history with training and raising dogs, she hopes to create an enriching experience for students at CHC through Summer. 

Questions and Concerns 

CHC has thought through concerns families may have about adding Summer to the CHC community.  

  • Could Summer become a distraction for students? 
  • What if a student doesn’t want to interact with Summer?  
  • Are there allergy concerns?  

For families with allergy concerns, Summer is a non-shedding and hypoallergenic dog. If a family does not want their child to interact with Summer, a waiver will be provided through Magnus to opt out of any contact. 

Overall, CHC sees Summer’s presence as a positive one, full of immense potential and an exciting relationship sure to grow over time. Please join us in officially welcoming Summer to CHC’s campus next fall and reach out with any questions!