Service Dog Given Honorary Degree When His Owner Graduated

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When 25-year-old Brittany Hawley graduated from Clarkson University in New York on December 15, her service dog, a Golden Retriever named Griffin, was by her side as he had been every day that she had attended classes for the previous four years. Because of his dedication to her throughout that time, the university decided to honor him with an honorary degree of his own.

As reported by Unilad, Hawley was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome when she was just a teenager, and has suffered from chronic pain and had to make use of a wheelchair ever since. That didn’t stop the tenacious woman from working hard and studying to earn her masters degree in occupational therapy, but she needed a little help to do so.

Throughout her studies, four-year-old Griffin was by Hawley’s side as she attended her classes, and as she assisted patients as part of an internship she had to complete. Part of his duties as a service dog to Hawley include bringing her her phone when she needs it, opening doors, switching on lights, and helping her to access items beyond her reach.

He is also a great source of emotional support for his owner, who often suffers from anxiety and depression because of the chronic pain she endures.

Given how well he looks after her, when it came time for Hawley to graduate, she made a special request of the university for her precious pooch: She asked that he be given an honorary diploma of his own from Clarkson University. The university decided to honor that request. When Hawley went up on stage to received her degree, Griffin was trotting along next to her, as usual, but dressed in his own cap and gown.

“I couldn’t participate in anything without him. I’m so used to him being there. I pushed for him to graduate from Day One. He did everything I did.”

The pup was just as proud of his achievement as Hawley was, gently taking his diploma in his mouth. He was even honored by the university’s board of trustees with a speech, in which they said he “demonstrated extraordinary effort, steadfast commitment and diligent dedication to the well-being and student success.”

As every student does on their graduation day, Hawley and Griffin posed for plenty of precious photos to commemorate the special day, proudly showing off their achievements.