At Stafford High School in Falmouth, Virginia, a certain yearbook picture has gone viral, and it’s not a student. It’s a service dog!
Andrew, “AJ” Schalk is a high school senior with type 1 diabetes, and he requires his service dog, Alpha, to go everywhere with him, including school. It’s Alpha’s job to detect when Andrew’s blood sugar levels are too low or high, and alert him. He is very good at his job, and has saved Andrew’s life many times.
Alpha is well loved by both the faculty and the students. He is such a part of the school community that he even got his very own ID card, and his own picture in the yearbook. Andrew had the idea to put Alpha in the yearbook, and when he suggested it, the faculty were more than happy to welcome him into the yearbook.
When the yearbook was printed and distributed to the whole student body, a student, Diana Bloom, noticed Alpha’s picture and shared it to Twitter. The post went viral.
This isn’t the first time that a service dog has been featured in a yearbook. An elementary school in Lake Charles, Louisiana allowed Rowdy, another service dog, to be included in the fun. In fact, Rowdy had been invited to be part of the yearbook three years in a row. That’s not bad.
The school’s photographer, Jill Engel, first brought attention to Rowdy when she posted behind the scenes pictures of the adorable school photo shoot on her Twitter. People couldn’t handle the cuteness of seeing Rowdy wearing a little bowtie.
Many Twitter users couldn’t get enough. One user, GentleBen, wrote, “This is the sweetest angel I’ve ever seen what an absolute angel creature. Thank you so much for sharing this.”
Rowdy is a part of the class, and the students have been taught how important his role is in helping Daegan, the student he is with. They know how to behave around a service dog, and they never disturb him while he’s working.
Both Alpha and Rowdy may be irresistibly adorable, but they are also very important to a much more serious mission. They have allowed the kids they assist to live as normal a life as possible, despite having a shared illness that could complicate things.
We hope to see more service dogs involved in their owners’ yearbooks just as a little reminder of how important their roles are, but also because the pictures are just too cute.