Last week, counselor Bryon Lee’s two future therapy dogs paid a visit to Laramie High School.

The dogs are both Golden Retrievers, and their names are Coquí and Lola.

“They aren’t officially therapy dogs yet because they are rambunctious, obnoxious, adorable puppies,” Lee describes.

They are, however, in training to eventually become certified therapy dogs.

Lee has them enrolled in puppy Einstein classes at Laramie’s Rockin E Dog Training.

It will be about a year of training before the dogs can get their official therapy dog certification in Cheyenne.

Unfortunately, Lola has been diagnosed with a heart defect and will likely not be able to become a therapy dog.

The goal is to have Coquí in the counseling office two or three days a week once she is certified.

Lee says the purpose of having the dogs is largely to increase student engagement in the counseling office.

“It’s just a way to get us interacting with students a little bit more. And for that dog to just be that catalyst for students that might be having a bad day or might really need to talk about something,” he said.

The days that Lee brought his puppies in, he says he saw hundreds of students come visit the counseling office to pet the dogs, hold them and play with them.

Many students even stopped by after school.

“We never have kids stop in after school,” Lee added.

Many of these students who stop by for the dogs are ones who wouldn’t visit the counseling office much otherwise, if ever.

At the very least, students can benefit just from positive interactions with a dog.

“There’s research that just the act of petting a dog actually releases endorphins within our brains that helps counteract depression or ill feelings that we might be having for the day,” Lee explained.

Therapy dogs provide a sense of safety for people to just open up and share their feelings.

One person cried “tears of joy” while holding the puppies in the counseling office.

There were even teachers who asked Lee to bring the dogs into their classes.

Lee says the dogs have been a community builder, not just with the counselors and students, but also between him and his co-workers.

Many of the other teachers and counselors have showed Lee pictures of their own dogs since he brought Lola and Coquí in.

Lee is excited to have the dogs around regularly after their certification.

“They just give unconditional love all the time,” he said.

Coquí and Lola will also be doing regular dog things with Lee like playing fetch and going fishing.

He says they already enjoy being outside and sitting in the snow.

Lee has another dog at home, a terrier mix, who didn’t get along with the puppies at first but is getting used to them now.