Loyal service dog receives his own honorary college degree

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Service dogs are definitely indispensable companions for all those people who need them. And not just for the emotional suport they provide, but for being always there!  Such a special, powerful bond is between Brittany Hawley and her loyal service dog, Griffin.

The 25-year-old woman from Wilson, North Carolina, uses a wheelchair and has chronic pain. She said Griffin does a wide range of physical tasks for her including opening doors, turning on lights and bringing her items she indicates with a laser pointer. But perhaps more important is the comfort the dog provides amid her relentless, severe pain that causes anxiety and depression.

Image credits: Brittany Hawley/Facebook

More than that, the loyal companion helped Brittany to get through grad school. Whenever she went to class, Griffin was also there. If she needed her cellphone, Griffin would fetch it. Even when she assisted patients as part of an internship, he was there helping out as well.

So it would have been fitted that when Hawley received her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Clarkson University, Griffin will once again be at her side — waiting to get his very own diploma. “I pushed for him to graduate from Day One,” Brittany said. “He did everything I did.”

The board of trustees of the Potsdam, New York, school honoured the 4-year-old golden retriever, motivating he demonstrated “extraordinary effort, steadfast commitment and diligent dedication to the well-being and student success”of his human mom.

Brittany met Griffin through ‘paws4prisons’, a program that teaches inmates at West Virginia prisons to train and place high-level assistance dogs. “The inmates allow many dogs to come up to you and let the dog choose you, ” Brittany said. “Some dogs were scared of wheelchair. Griffin jumped right into my lap and licked me across the face.”

Hawley and Griffin worked at Fort Bragg in North Carolina during an internship, helping soldiers with mobility impairments and social disorders. Brushing a dog can help improve a patient’s range of motion, and stroking him helps ease anxiety, the young lady said.

“My patients would say, ‘My therapist today is Brittany and Griffin,’ she added. And of course, when she would apply for a job, Griffin will also be there too. “I couldn’t participate in anything without him. I’m so used to him being there, ” the proud young woman said.