Service Dog Gets a Spot in Yearbook Next to Favorite Little Girl

In Ancient Egypt, humans would be buried with their cats as they hoped to continue being together even in the afterlife. However, they say there is no time like the present to show those you care about how much you love them. It was, therefore, a show of love when a service dog got a spot in yearbook next to his favorite little girl as the school demonstrated that they welcomed the student regardless of her being different. Hadley and her mother, Heather, were surprised to see Ariel’s photo next to Hadley’s and Heather recounted how the canine and human became best of friends. Check out their story.

The Beginning of the Beautiful Relationship between Girl and Dog

About five years ago, Heather Lange and her family were having dinner at McAllister’s Deli when 17-month-old Hadley started jerking her body as she was having her first seizure. Heather thought she was watching her little girl dying in her arms since Hadley had even stopped breathing. However, mothers are natural-born nurses, and Heather suddenly thought about compressing her daughter’s little chest as they rushed to the hospital. All this while, Heather was praying to God not to take Hadley away from her. If anyone was supposed to die, then it should have been her; no mother should ever have to bury her child.

When Hadley was diagnosed with epilepsy, yet the family had no history of the condition, it came as a shock. Heather gathered information about epilepsy, trying to figure out what she could do to help her daughter. Everything changed one day when according to FOX 5 NY, Heather was visiting her sitter whose son, a retired veteran, had epilepsy. Heather watched as his German shepherd service dog pulled Hadley Jo to the ground and a few minutes later, Hadley Jo had a seizure. Heather’s search for help came to an end as she realized all she needed was a service dog.

Unfortunately, getting one was not as easy as she had thought. Besides, the astronomical cost of over $20,000, getting a service dog would take at least four years. Luckily, the community supported Heather and helped her raise the amount within six months. By the seventh month, Hadley Jo had been matched with Ariel, a Labrador from Ultimate Canine which breeds and trains dogs. The organization took Ariel to Heather’s home and watched as the family interacted with the dog for a week before stamping the canine ready to be Hadley Jo’s service dog. At the time, Hadley was only three years old.

Inclusion Gets Mother Teary

Heather never imagined that her little girl’s dog would end up in a yearbook, yet when they opened the yearbook, there was a picture of Ariel, next to Hadley’s. It was a welcome surprise that brought tears to Heather as she acknowledged the beautiful message that St Patrick Catholic school was sending to the world; that it is okay to have children who look and learn different in their school and they accept them all. The school’s principal Nathan Sturtzel said that it was vital for them to support their students and foster a relationship with their families. He added that Ariel was part of the family, and including her in the yearbook was an easy decision. The fact that Ariel is the only service dog in the entire archdiocese of Louisville made the inclusion even more crucial.

Heather may not pay back the kindness that has been shown to her, Ariel and Hadley, but she pays it forward. Therefore, the three have partnered with the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentucky to help educate families that may require service dogs. She knows first-hand how important it is to have a service dog and praises Ariel for helping save Hadley’s life. Heather added that she did not know how to show gratitude to the canine for being like a second mother to Hadley, accompanying her everywhere she goes. As for Hadley, she will look back and see how far she and Ariel have come thanks to the Facebook page “Hope for Hadley Jo” that Heather created to document their journey.

Ariel is Not the First Dog To Appear in School Yearbook

Diana Bloom was a senior at Stafford High School, and as she browsed through the school’s yearbook, she noticed that they had included a dog, Alpha Schalk. According to Justsomething, AJ, a junior at the school, suffered from Type 1 diabetes and Alpha was his constant companion, alerting him whenever his blood sugars were too low or high. AJ appreciated Alpha’s help since he had saved the teenager’s life on multiple occasions. Therefore, as they prepared to have their yearbook pictures taken, AJ floated the idea of having Alpha’s picture also in the yearbook, and his teachers agreed with him.

The story is almost similar to one that happened in M.J. Kaufman Elementary school where a canine, Rowdy, served as Daegan’s service dog. Like AJ, Daegan suffered from Type 1 diabetes, and it was Rowdy’s job to ensure the blood sugar levels were always in check. This time, the yearbook picture was a little bit more interesting because Rowdy was dressed for the part in his little bowtie. As a result, the picture went viral when the photographer, Jill Engel, posted the photo on Twitter.

How Service Dogs Assist Those with Epilepsy

Pooch Coach explains that although service dogs have mostly been known to help blind people, they have been trained to assist those suffering from other medical issues, especially seizures. Heather said that Ariel saves Hadley’s life by alerting those around her to administer medication within two minutes. Besides, Heather saw her sitter’s German shepherd pull Hadley to the ground since an attack can cause the person to hit the ground with their head. Service dogs are trained to react by doing that to keep the victim safe as they also call for help. Their ability to do so is attributed to their sense of smell hence they can tell when one is about to get a seizure. The best dog breed for service dog training is the Labrador Retriever, which Heather was keen to get for Hadley.

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