Service dog is proven to be the ultimate good boy by earning a spot in the yearbook.
Most people understand the importance of service animals, which are usually dogs, and the variety of jobs they perform for their humans. While some working animals, such as police dogs or animals used in films, get to go home each night like humans and relax, service dogs have to perform their duties around the clock, even throughout the night while everyone in the house is asleep.
One such dog is Alpha, a 4-year-old member of the Schalk family in Fredericksburg, Virginia whose human, A.J., has Type I diabetes, which causes his blood sugar levels to skyrocket or plummet at any given moment. With Alpha there, A.J. is able to better regulate his blood sugar without experiencing the adverse and extreme symptoms as often, leading to a healthier life both in the short and long-term. Alpha uses smell to determine the changing blood sugar levels in A.J.’s body, and gives his human a paw when something is off.
“Alpha alerts me through smell, 20 to 40 minutes sooner than I know anything is wrong,” the 16-year-old said. “He has saved my life multiple times, especially at night, when low blood sugar can be super dangerous.”
While some people with Type I diabetes can get by without a service dog, it can be dangerous or painful to do so because the onset of changing blood sugar can cause injuries due to collapsing or be very uncomfortable due to labored breathing, vomiting, fatigue, and other symptoms. A.J. began bringing Alpha to school with him to help monitor his levels at all times last year, and his school, Stafford High School, was so supportive that they even issued the Labrador his own adorable school ID.
This school year, Alpha accompanied A.J. every single day, so A.J. decided to take it a step further and wondered if Alpha could be a part of the school’s yearbook.
“I contacted a friend of mine who is in yearbook, and we brought it up to the teachers and they were 100 percent supportive,” A.J. told HuffPost.
On the actual day the photo was taken, A.J. marveled at how easy it was to have the photographer include Alpha in the photos. A.J.’s photo was taken first, and then the photographer made a couple adjustments to take the Labrador’s photo, who was standing right next to his human.
“All they had to do was lower the camera and took the picture just like for anyone else!” he said.
This adorable act might have gone unnoticed by the world and been a local news story, except that a classmate who rides the bus with Alpha and A.J. received an early copy of the yearbook and could not contain her excitement. Diana Bloom, an 18-year-old senior at Stafford, took a photo of the page that Alpha and A.J. are featured on and posted it on Twitter, where it quickly went viral.
they put his service dog in the yearbook i'm CRYING pic.twitter.com/yU47kpKnwA
— diana bloom (@nycstheplacetob) May 18, 2017
“I thought it was super cute that they put Alpha in the yearbook,” Bloom told HuffPost. “He does such a good job and he really deserved it!”
As for A.J., he’s just glad that Alpha was able to be a part of the school that he visits everyday with his human and he’s grateful for all that Alpha does for him. The 4-year-old lovable dog has a tough job to perform, but he does it with ease, without complaints, and has captured the heart of the entire Schalk family and the high school students. As a huge bonus, he has also helped A.J. cope with his lifelong illness.
“Having him at school and making everyone so happy has made my disability such a positive thing for me,” he said.
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