Did you see a dog that looked like a cheetah at the Rockton River Market?


Children pet Newt the cheetah dog.

If you were at the Rockton River Market on Wednesday you might have seen what looked like a cheetah. However, after doing some research, I found out the story behind the cheetah look-a-like: he's Newt, a therapy dog with the Caledonia Elementary School. (Spoiler: the kids used a pet-friendly and safe hair color dye that will wash out.)

Kim Salem is Newt’s owner and family. She is a lover of dogs and a special education teacher in the Belvidere Community School District 100, working at the Caledonia Elementary School. Kim lives in the Rockton area and she tries to go to the Rockton River Market as often as she can.

Newt the cheetah dog at Caledonia Elementary School

Newt, a member of the whippet breed, was a family pet prior to becoming a therapy dog at Caledonia Elementary School. He is 11 months old and Kim and her family have had him since he was around 3 months. Once Newt is 12 months old, he will start to compete in dog sport events.

Newt outside Rockton's Dairyhaus

Kim thought Newt would make a great therapy dog because he has a very calm demeanor and he doesn’t jump on kids or people. What Newt does have is the ability to quickly create a connection with people and the kids at the Caledonia Elementary School.

Newt provides companionship and comfort and helps the kids that are having a tough day. Since the mascot for the Caledonia Elementary School is a cheetah, Kim and the team thought the kids would enjoy decorating Newt as a cheetah. So, they found pet-friendly and safe hair color dye that they could use for Newt. On Monday, June 5, 2023 the kids at the Caledonia Elementary School took to creating Newt as a cheetah. 

Megan Coke with Newt at Caledonia Elementary School

If you come to any of the future Rockton River Markets, keep an eye out for Newt the cheetah dog. The pet-friendly and safe hair color dye will wash out after a couple of baths. So sometime soon, Newt will be going back to his normal tan coated color without black patches. 

Sleek and spotted: Newt goes for a walk

If you have any pics of Newt from last week, share them on the Rockton River Market Facebook page or the Rockton-Roscoe News Facebook page.

Follow Newt's adventures on Instagram

Thank you to Newt the cheetah dog, Kim Salem, Caledonia Elementary School and the Belvidere Community School District 100 for information and images used in the story.

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