Service dogs play such an integral role in the lives of the people that they help. They are there, every day, through the good times and the bad. That is why schools often will include the service dogs of their students into different school events – including putting them into their yearbooks, just like one elementary school in Kentucky.
St. Patrick Catholic School decided to surprise their student, Hadley Jo Lange, by including her beloved service dog, Ariel, in the school’s yearbook.
Ariel the labradoodle is Hadley’s service dog. He’s been there for her throughout her epilepsy – the neurological disorder that causes her to suffer from seizures. As a result, Ariel goes everywhere with the seven-year-old.
He’s spent about four years with her and has become very good at learning to detect when an episode is about to come on. Being able to sense the seizures before they happened, Ariel is trained to bark in alert, and this allows Hadley’s teachers to know what is happening, and therefore provide cushioning for Hadley to lie down on.
As Heather Lange, Hadley’s mom, shared with CNN, “This dog has really saved my daughter’s life. I don’t know how I could ever thank Ariel as a mother. She goes with her everywhere, to school, rides the bus with her, goes to her dance classes and soccer practice. She always has her eyes on my little girl. It’s a huge sense of security.”
That is why the Louisville school decided that is was only right to include Ariel in the yearbook – since he was such a big part of the school community.
The principal of the school, Nathan Sturtzel, admitted that it’s important for the school to include Ariel since he’s a part of the school community – something that his school is quite big on fostering. Because of this, the school knew that they needed to find a place for Ariel in the yearbook.
Of course, the gesture was quite touching to the Lange family, who really appreciated the gesture. Heather explained that when they discovered the school had included Ariel in the yearbook, it was a very sweet surprise.
She said, “When I got the yearbook and saw that they included our service dog, that was one of the most touching moments of my life. The inclusiveness meant so much.”
Heather further added that the gesture proved that despite the differences, it was lovely to know that inclusion was very much a big part of the school’s mission. It was especially comforting to the mom since Hadley had been experiencing seizures since she was just 17 months, and being accepted and accommodated by her school’s community was lovely to see.