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Therapy dogs bring paw-sitive energy to Doherty High School

Posted at 8:35 PM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 22:35:38-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Therapy dogs Chief and Luna only have a few minutes between classes at Doherty High School in Colorado Springs to get some attention, but they'll take anything they can get. Students flock around them in the hallways to pet their heads, rub their bellies, and grab a little hug.

"(Chief) is named for my college mascot because I went to the University of Illinois and she’s named for Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter," said Sue Keller.

Keller is a gifted resource teacher at Doherty High. She knows her dogs can turn things around for everyone in the halls fast.

"If even for three seconds a kid comes by and they have a frown on their face and they start smiling and I send them off to their next class and they’re a little bit happier than they were before they interacted with me and the dogs and it’s 100% worth it," said Keller.

"Luna is the best dog ever," said high school sophomore Aolani Gruenzner as she pets the dogs. "Chief is so chill all the time. He just lets you pet him, do whatever."

Gruenzner said the dogs do so much to raise her spirits.

"There was this period in time when I was always sad when I came to school," she said. "So 4th period I just go to (Keller's) classroom in the morning before I go to class and I’m like, 'Hey Chief what are you doing?"

Training the dogs is a daily process for Keller and her husband, Brian. It's a process that started in the Colorado prison system.

"They were both Colorado Cell Dogs," she said. "They were strays and they were picked up and probably turned over by the Humane Society to the prison system. Then they did all of their additional training living with an inmate 24-7 and then we adopted them out of that program."

"She listens really well and it looks like they’re both just really calm dogs," said student Sam Griffith.

Griffith says the dogs help create a positive environment.

"They're just really sweet and (Luna) is very, very spicy," said Griffith smiling.

Even though Keller's goal is to help others with her dogs, her husband says she gets even more back.

"More students talk to my wife because of the dog which gets her out," said Mr. Keller. "A lot of teachers just talk to their classes and so this gets her out, gets her talking to everybody more."

"It gives me joy to know that through my therapy animal that we can bring somebody else joy," said Mrs. Keller.

Keller's husband nominated her to be featured in our Positively Colorado segment. Remember if someone you know is making a positive impact in our community, we want to hear about it and share their story. You can send a message to us at positivelycolorado@koaa.com.

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