In late May, a student from Stafford High School in Falmouth, Virginia tweeted a photo from a page in her yearbook. The picture quickly went viral and, once you see it, there’s no surprise as to why.
A service dog named Alpha—who accompanies his human, Andrew ‘AJ’ Schalk, to school help him manage his Type 1 Diabetes—had his very own photo in the 2017 yearbook.
Schalk, who is currently a junior, says that Alpha has been his service dog for over three years and that he has been going to school with him since his sophomore year.
“Our school day is just like anyone else’s, except I have to take Alpha out to use the restroom after my lunch,” Schalk says. “Other than that, he goes to all my classes with me and lays under my desk.”
Schalk, who says Alpha is his “best friend and a great companion,” wanted to commemorate that his dog is always by his side, so decided to include him in the yearbook.
“Alpha is the best service dog a guy could have and I don’t know what I would do without him,” Schalk says. “He alerts me to my blood sugar 20-40 minutes sooner than I [would] know anything is wrong.”
The 16 year old credits Alpha for saving his life, including an incident when the dog woke him up in the middle of the night when his blood sugar dropped dangerously low.
Of course, it’s not just Schalk who adores having Alpha around.
“Everyone at school loves Alpha, teachers and students alike,” Schalk says. “He really brightens up the room.”
Alpha’s adorable and deserving spot in the yearbook has touched a nerve not only because it’s so darn cute, but because it’s given Schalk a platform to discuss how important Alpha’s work is.
“It has been so amazing being given the opportunity to advocate for service dogs and Type 1 Diabetes,” he says. “I want people to know the impact service dogs can have on their owner’s lives. Service dogs provide hope, peace of mind, and, really, can be life savers.”
Image via Twitter
Aly Semigran is a lifestyle writer for the world, and roommate of Ruby, the cutest dog in the world.