School gives student’s loyal service dog a place in the yearbook

Service dogs can be an invaluable resource for those who need them. Besides offering the comfort and companionship of a pet, they can be trained to provide life-saving medical assistance.

They do so much that it’s nice to see their hard work recognized—like how one school honored a student’s loyal service dog.

Andrew “AJ” Schalk, from Virginia, has type 1 diabetes, and it can be life-threatening if his blood sugar gets too high or low. Luckily, a few years ago he received a service dog named Alpha, who is trained to alert him of the danger.

“He knows 20 to 40 minutes before my blood sugar actually does go low or high due to his amazing sense of smell,” AJ told Buzzfeed. “He has saved my life multiple times already, by waking me up in the middle of the night to extremely low blood sugars.”

The dog also accompanied him to his classes at Stafford High School, where he quickly won everyone over.

“[He] brightens everybody’s day,” AJ told Inside Edition. “All the teachers I have look forward to seeing him, just seeing this adorable little puppy walk around.”

In his junior year, AJ got an idea—since Alpha was part of the school, why not try to get him into the yearbook? Amazingly, the school agreed.

“All the teachers and students were 100% supportive,” AJ told Buzzfeed.

“I just brought him with me when I got my yearbook picture taken. The only thing they changed was the camera height.”

Students were delighted to find the adorable dog make a surprise appearance in their yearbook, next to AJ and hilariously out of frame:

The photo went viral after it was tweeted by a senior classmate.

Not only was the dog in the yearbook, he even got his own school ID:

Service dogs don’t just save lives with their medical assistance, they make life better by being great companions.

For AJ, these fun times with Alpha has made living with diabetes so much better.

“Taking him to school every day and having everyone react so positively to him has had a positive effect on my life,” AJ told Inside Edition. “It’s changed it into something for me where I am excited to take him to school.”

And since the yearbook photo was such a hit, the dog returned to the yearbook again for AJ’s senior year… this time, in a more formal pose:

It’s so nice to see a service dog included like this! He deserves it!

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