A “Golden” Addition: Meet CeCe, Cy Creek’s Comfort Dog

Photo+Credits%3A+Cougar+Productions

Photo Credits: Cougar Productions

Walking onto campus this fall, both freshmen and seniors alike were greeted by an unfamiliar yet friendly face. With her flowing golden hair and bright smile, she’s hard to miss. The new face on campus is a golden retriever named CeCe, the campus’s new comfort dog.

CeCe is the fourth such dog to be placed in the district by Interquest C.A.R.E.S. (Comfort, Assist, Reassure, Encourage, Support), an organization that trains and provides schools with comfort dogs.

Though CeCe has been on campus for only a short time, coordinating counselor Tammy Maaz says she has already seen the impact CeCe has on students.

“Oh, I already see the influence,” Maaz said. “The influence is such a positive one for both students and staff. People’s mood changes 180 degrees after interacting with CeCe. We’ll have students that are upset, that are crying, they’re anxious, that are stressed out come in and spend 20 minutes with the dog. Afterwards, they leave here smiling and laughing and in a much better place. She also helps diffuse anger for kiddos who might be having a fight or potential to have an argument or a fight with someone.”

CeCe positively affects adults as well.

“CeCe brings the stress levels down for staff that are overwhelmed with teaching and how demanding their job is,” Maaz said. “When you walk out of the office with her, the smiles on people’s faces tell me everything.”

CeCe’s presence not only helps elevate the mood of students and staff; she also helps reduce anxiety.

“Having an Interquest CARES Comfort & Counseling Assistance Dog on campus can positively impact students and staff alike.” co-founder of Interquest C.A.R.E.S, Alyssa Berry, said. “The stress relief aspect alone of petting a dog can diffuse any situation. It’s reassuring to have a furry friend with a wagging tail consistently available as yet another tool in a campus’s mental health toolbox. The trust and relationships that are built with these dogs can really make a difference in a student’s path.”

Counselor Kelly Coxe says it is important to have CeCe on campus because high school is a place of constant change and anxiety.

“High school can be a high stress environment for many students,” Coxe said. “The ninth and tenth graders are struggling to transition from middle to high school. They are also searching to develop their identity and figure out where they fit. The older high school students are feeling the pressures of GPAs, college applications, or the impending possibility of needing to support themselves. Also, with increasing exposure to all types of media, high school students are more aware of the struggles occurring in their families, communities, and the world, and with that comes a higher level of anxiety.”

As Creek implements a PBIS system this year, CeCe will be used as an incentive to reward students for behaving positively.

“I want her to be a reward for kids,” Principal Vicki Snokhous said. “When we get our PBIS system rolling out full force, kids will be able to purchase time with CeCe using their PBIS points. Classes can pull their points together and have her come for a class visit. I just want her to have an overall positive effect on students and help them feel comfortable, safe, and just help them calm down and have a better day.”

For now, students can visit CeCe in the counseling office, have their teachers request her for a classroom visit, or spot her around campus with her handlers, Mrs. Maaz or Principal Snokhous.