Therapy dog coming soon to Cherry Creek School District

Riley is the third therapy dog of Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office

Tayler Shaw
tshaw@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/8/22

The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office is adding a third therapy dog to its agency, 9-week-old Riley, who will be serving the Cherry Creek School District alongside School Resource Officer Deputy Adam Nardi.

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Therapy dog coming soon to Cherry Creek School District

Riley is the third therapy dog of Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office

Posted

Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office is adding a third therapy dog to its agency, 9-week-old Riley, who will be serving the Cherry Creek School District alongside School Resource Officer Deputy Adam Nardi, the agency announced in a news release Sept. 8.

Riley, a black Labrador, will be working with Nardi in all the Cherry Creek schools in unincorporated Arapahoe County and Centennial, according to the release. 

“I’m excited to see the care, love, and smiles Riley is going to bring to all of the staff and students in the Cherry Creek School District. I think he’s going to be a great tool to help students to change their outlook and mood,” said Nardi, who has been with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years, in the release.  

Riley will work with all students, including those who have special needs, and will help offer comfort to students in times of crisis, reduce stress and assist students who suffer from anxiety or depression, the release said.

According to the release, the Cherry Creek School District said the use of therapy dogs to support the wellbeing of students was a recommendation that came out of last year’s Cherry Creek School District Mental Health Emergency Task Force. 

The task force was a group of students, staff, parents and community members who came together to address the mental health issues impacting the district’s schools, the release said. 

“Meeting the mental health needs of our students is an important part of supporting their whole well-being. We are excited to welcome Riley into our schools as part of the team of SROs [school resource officers] who keep our schools safe,” Superintendent Christopher Smith said in the release.

Over the next year, Riley will train in basic obedience and will then attend an American Kennel Club good citizen and intensive class to become a certified therapy dog, according to the release. Once Riley is a year old, he will begin training in scent detection for firearms.  

Sheriff Tyler Brown shared the news with Centennial City Council during its Sept. 6 meeting.

“We’re excited to expand this program. We’ve seen great success in what these dogs provide in the educational setting,” Brown said. “It really breaks down a lot of those barriers and introduces a different element into the educational setting, which allows us to keep kids engaged and keep them in class.”

Brown said Riley has the same mother as the agency’s two other school therapy dogs, Rex and Zeke, who work in Littleton Public Schools. Part of the $33,000 that was raised for Back the Blue K-9 Force during the “RexRun” event was used to purchase Riley, he said, who was purchased Sept. 2. 

“We’re just thankful that we have that opportunity and K-9 Back the Blue to provide us those service animals to make sure that the students are receiving the care that they need,” Brown said. “And that’s really what this is — it’s about care.” 

Riley’s official swearing-in ceremony will be on Monday, Sept. 12.

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, Therapy Dog, Centennial, Cherry Creek School District

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