Derby the Therapy Dog

Derby sits eagerly while waiting for pets.

Derby is a 105 pound Newfoundland who frequents CSU during finals week. Derby is owned by Brian Mikelbank Ph. D., an associate professor in Urban Studies, and she’s a registered therapy dog. Mikelbank gained inspiration for Derby while watching a dog show where some of the contestants were therapy dogs in their spare time. 

“Derby has always been an incredible attention hog, so we thought that would be a good thing for her to do,” said Mikelbank. 

Dogs need to be certified in order to become therapy dogs. Derby gained her certification from Therapy Dogs International which required Derby to pass a two part test. The first part, titled the Canine Good Citizen test, determined her friendliness and obedience. The second part judged how well she could tolerate a variety of irritating disruptions such as crowds, loud noises, and medical equipment. Although they weren’t required, Derby did attend a few extra courses before her test to be fully prepared. She registers each year with Therapy Dog International for a low renewal fee. 

In addition to CSU, Derby had previously gone to Euclid library to assist young kids in getting comfortable with reading. Derby currently visits Ronald McDonald House and University Hospitals. University Hospitals required her to take an additional test to ensure her abilities and provided her with a special therapy dog card. Mikelbank was given a binder himself to be aware of policies for therapy dog handling and was assigned a mentor for the first six months of hospital visits. 

Mikelbank expressed his surprise at the reactions Derby causes saying she comforts stressed college students as well as acting as a great icebreaker in opening up conversations with hospital patients. Derby can be seen at CSU in the Michael Schwartz Library during Finals Week.