Riley Cook | SPORTS EDITOR
I mean who doesn’t love dogs! Here at La Cueva High School, we have a phenomenal social skills program. Laura Heitman, LCSW, LISW, is the La Cueva High School Social Worker and with therapy dogs part of the program makes it just that much more special.
At La Cueva, we have three therapy dogs. The oldest dog, Laurie, who is eleven years old and Hilani who is ten years old. Laurie has been with La Cueva for eight years and Hilani three years. The newest member of the family is Skye who is nine months old and currently still in training. The dogs create such a positive atmosphere for the student body here at LCHS. Heitman says her favorite thing about working with the therapy dogs is, “seeing how the students react when interacting with the dogs, walking down the halls with the dogs and seeing student happiness, and seeing students smile when they see the dogs.”
What does a day as a therapy dog look like? Well, to tell you the truth it sounds pretty nice. Visiting different staff members throughout the school that keep treats in their desks is how the dogs start their day. After lunch, the dogs go outside for a walk and bathroom break.
Heitman says the therapy dogs are used in various ways around the school. “The dogs are used to help calm down for a student that is having a melt down, assisting students with disabilities and can also be a social magnet which can help a student facilitate a conversation. Petting the dogs can help students focus and concentrate. Dogs can help a student when they are feeling sad by just petting the dog, and the dogs assist students and staff when the campus experiences grief or a loss,” said Heitman. The therapy dogs at La Cueva bring so much excitement, and help the student body come together as a big family which is what makes La Cueva so great.