Every May or early June, schools mark the end of the year by publishing a yearbook. It includes memories and jokes from time in class, round-ups of after-school activities, and row upon row of class member headshots. But the yearbook at Stafford Highschool in Falmouth, Virginia was a little bit different. It included a photo of a service dog belonging to High School senior AJ Shalek.
Shalek, a diabetic, attended school every day with Alpha. The dog stayed faithfully by his side so that he could detect if Shalek needed help because his blood sugar dropped. He saved Shalek’s life many times, became a fixture at the school, and earned his spot in the yearbook.
Service Dogs Are Important In Schools
The inclusion highlights how important service dogs can be in schools. Their working presence allows a student with medical needs and some mobility to live a more normal life. As in Alpha’s case, the dogs can also become a beloved part of the school environment, being welcomed and appreciated by teachers, students, and school administrators. Students also have the chance to learn about how the ways that students with challenges can integrate into mainstream environments.
Other schools with service dogs have had similarly positive experiences. An elementary school in Lake Charles, Louisiana welcomed service dog Rowdy to help one of their students. Other students respected Rowdy and he also made it into the yearbook.
Social Media Cheers The Yearbook Inclusion
It was Shalek’s idea to put the dog in the yearbook. When the inclusion made it to social media, it melted followers heart. When student and Twitter user Diana Bloom shard the photo it went viral. It received tons of pickup on social feeds including animal welfare websites.
Alpha the Service Dog Makes It Into His High School Student’s Yearbook https://t.co/o59wi24N4B
— AnimalAbusers (@AnimalAbusers) May 28, 2017
The story was also picked up by major news outlets. They cheered that the school would pay tribute to such a loyal and capable canine. We’re cheering too!
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