Meet Ru, the new therapy dog at Castle Rock Middle School
DENVER (KDVR) — Castle Rock Middle School welcomed a new therapy dog and school resource officer last week.
Officer Dave Knight rescued Rowe, a 2-year-old Malamute husky, from a local shelter last February.
Knight noticed his calming energy, realized Roo had potential as a therapy dog and obtained certification, according to a release from the Town of Castle Rock. He donated Prue to the Castle Rock Police Department to serve as a police therapy dog.
“It was kind of hard because it meant a lot to me, but in the end, nothing really changed for him,” Knight said in a video posted by Douglas County Schools.
Knight said he wants what’s best for the community because he grew up a few blocks away and was a student at Castle Rock Middle School himself. He’s back now, working as an SRO there alongside Ru.
“I love this community, and being able to interact with all the students here and being able to serve the same school I went to, I thought it was really cool,” Knight said.
Knight said Rowe made an immediate difference in many ways. Whether it’s helping students or staff with emotional regulation, alleviating fears during lockdown drills or helping classrooms with emotional needs, Knight said he can see the impact in every interaction.
“It’s not that a lot of kids are having problems here or anything like that, it’s just that I’m here for the students, so if they have any issues that I can help with, I want to be able to help them,” Knight said. “It’s rewarding for me and I think it’s a big help for these students as well.”
Knight said there are times when students and staff come to see Rowe crying, but seeing them go from upset to leaving with a smile means a lot to him and Rowe.
“People see Rue and just smile,” he said. “A lot of people ask me what his job is, and his job is just to make people smile, and he does a really good job of that.”
The students said the pair were friendly and fun to talk to.
One student described both Officer Knight and Rowe as “warm, friendly beings” who felt comfortable talking to. Another student said they bring a sense of safety to school.
Qualified for the job
Aside from Ru’s friendly energy that qualifies them for the job, the duo holds several credentials, including their K-9 Multi-Discipline Therapy Certification, which they earned through the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Paws and Stripes College in Florida.
Knight and Ru have passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen Basic, Urban, and Advanced programs. They have also earned the American Kennel Club Therapy Dog Novice and Therapy Dog Advanced titles.
Police Chief Jack Cawley said the Police Therapy Dog program has been transformative for the community.
“The reach of these police therapy dogs extends beyond our middle and high schools to serve students and staff across Castle Rock. We are very proud of the work they do every day,” Cawley said.
Officer Knight said he hopes he and Rowe can inspire other agencies around the state and country to bring in therapy dogs.
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