Dogs are amazing companions. But for some people, these loveable pooches are more than just best friends, they’re service dogs with an important job to do. And one elementary school in Louisville, Kentucky recognized this important role by including their student’s dog in the yearbook. St. Patrick Catholic School decided to give Ariel, a service dog, her very own spot in their yearbook. The adorable gesture meant a lot to the pup’s owner, 7-year-old Hadley Jo Lange. The young girl’s mother credits Ariel with saving her daughter’s life and giving her a chance to live it as normally as possible. Hadley Jo lives with epilepsy, the neurological disorder responsible for causing seizures. CNN reported that Ariel has been such an integral part of her recovery and coping, so it was nice for her family to see the school took the time to have Ariel included in the yearbook.
Hadley Jo’s mom, Heather Lange, said to CNN that Ariel was her daughter’s lifesaver. She explained, “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.”
Whenever the young girl goes off to school, the loyal pup is right there by her side, joining her in everything that she does. Hadley Jo has lived with epilepsy most of her life, experiencing her first seizure at only 17-months-old. Her mom explained that since the first seizure, the episodes then became a regular occurrence in Hadley Jo’s life. That when Ariel entered her life. The 4-year-old Labradoodle was first paired with Hadley Jo when she was just a puppy. It was an instant connection between the two of them and over time, their bond has just strengthened.
Besides providing Hadley Jo with constant friendship, Ariel also helped the child manage her epilepsy. The dog knows and can sense when she is able to experience a seizure. Ariel is then able to get Hadley Jo’s teacher’s attention by barking. And when Hadley Jo does have her seizure, Ariel is right there by her side, lying beside her or providing Hadley Jo a soft body to fall on. Ariel may be the only service dog in Louisville’s archdiocese, but that didn’t mean the school was going to leave her out of the yearbook.
The school principal, Nathan Sturtzel, expressed the importance to them to include Ariel in the yearbook. He said that their school is one that strives to forge supportive relationships with all their students and their families. The principal said that because Ariel is so important to Hadley Jo and her family, there was no question about her getting included in the yearbook. He stated, “Finding a place for her in our yearbook was an easy decision and it was a lot of fun to include her. We loved it.”
The inclusion of Ariel in the yearbook might seem like a small gesture, but it meant the world to Heather to see her daughter’s service dog given a spot in the yearbook amongst the other kids. The mom said, “St. Patrick made a choice to accept my child and her service dog. Acceptance and inclusion is a true sign of kindness and compassion.” And that is definitely a beautiful thing to see. What do you think of the school including Ariel in their yearbook? Let us know!