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Best Friends: Diane Peterson
Times photo: Marissa Weiher

Best Friends is a weekly feature designed to highlight a local resident and his or her pets. To suggest

someone for the series, contact Marissa Weiher, photographer, at

Diane Peterson of Monticello talks about her best friend Cheerio, a 3-year-old miniature schnauzer.

Peterson started looking for miniature schnauzer puppies after she lost a couple dogs from old age and losing a family member around the same time. She was having a hard time finding one, but with help from a friend she found a litter in Tomah. Peterson has been fond of the miniature schnauzer breed since she was 11 years old.

Peterson said she knew Cheerio was the one right away because Cheerio made her feel good. She said the name was the right choice because she brings so much cheer to those around her.

"She's been my therapy dealing with friends and family I've lost over the years," Peterson said.

Cheerio accompanies Peterson to visit the children at Monticello Elementary School, where she used to work in the cafeteria before retiring. They also visit people living in hospice facilities, and Peterson plans to have Cheerio become a certified therapy dog.
Describe Cheerio's personality.

She's bubbly. She's patient and kind and curious about everything. She was very easy to train. Even at 9-weeks-old all I had to do was show her where the door was. She makes friends wherever she goes. She even likes the vet.

What do you and Cheerio like to do together?

We visit the school a couple times a week. I love children, and since I retired this keeps me connected. I take her, and we visit all the rooms or the playground. I had one teacher tell me he can't believe how calm his class gets after she's been there.

We visit nursing homes about once a week. She goes with me to visit my horse. We go for walks and we do some agility (training). I have a course in the backyard, and the neighbors have a couple of pugs and they come over and do the same thing.

What has it been like having Cheerio in your life?

She completes me. She gives me joy. I love seeing her every morning when I wake up. She fills my day with so much company. She's really good about dividing her attention with my husband Dennis and makes sure he knows he's important to her.