“A Furry Lifesaver: A Service Dog’s Heroic Acts Reward Him with an Honorary Degree, Marking His Owner’s Graduation Milestone”

On a lovely day in Potsdam, New York, Brittany Hawley, accompanied by her loyal companion Griffin, experienced a heartwarming moment. This special occasion took place during Clarkson University’s “December Recognition Ceremony” on December 15, 2018. Griffin, a remarkable Golden Retriever service dog, was bestowed with an honorary diploma, bringing tears of joy to Brittany’s eyes.

Brittany Hawley, a remarkable individual who had already earned a doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy, was immensely proud of her furry friend’s achievements. From the very beginning of their academic journey at Clarkson University, both Brittany and Griffin attended all of their classes together, forming an unbreakable bond.

As the ceremony drew to a close, Brittany embraced Griffin tightly, expressing her heartfelt congratulations. This extraordinary moment, filled with love and appreciation, exemplified the exceptional relationship between a devoted owner and her awe-inspiring service dog.

Griffin, the loyal service dog of Brittany Hawley, faithfully attended her classes and was always ready to fetch her phone when needed. Whether she was assisting patients during her internship or attending lectures, Griffin was by her side. It comes as no surprise then that Griffin was present at Hawley’s graduation ceremony from Clarkson University, proudly receiving his own honorary certificate alongside her, commemorating their journey together.

“On Day One, my fight to see him graduate began,” expressed Hawley during her conversation on Monday. “Every task I undertook, he was right there beside me.” To honor their bond and undeniable dedication, the board of trustees at the school organized a special recognition event last Saturday. They commended the four-year-old golden retriever, highlighting his unmatched commitment, unwavering devotion, and unfaltering focus on Hawley’s well-being and academic success.

Living in Wilson, North Carolina, Hawley, who is wheelchair-bound and experiences intense discomfort, credits Griffin for assisting her in various physical activities. From opening doors to switching on lights and bringing her belongings designated by a laser pointer, Griffin’s assistance is indispensable. Yet, beyond these physical tasks, the canine companion provides emotional solace, acting as a source of comfort amidst Hawley’s constant, debilitating pain, which often leads to distress and sadness.

Hawley received Griffin through the innovative initiative called “paws4prisons.” This program aims to teach inmates in West Virginia prisons the skills necessary to train and utilize exceptional support dogs.

Hawley gave an account of an interesting encounter where the inmates allowed a group of dogs to come near, allowing the dogs to make the choice themselves. Interestingly, some dogs seemed to have fear towards the wheelchair, but Griffin boldly rushed towards Hawley and affectionately licked the side of his face. This heartwarming incident took place during Hawley’s internship at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where he and Griffin provided assistance to troops facing physical limitations as well as psycho-social issues. Hawley emphasized how the simple act of brushing a dog can enhance a patient’s range of motion and how the comforting touch of a furry friend can help alleviate anxiety.

“My clients often say, ‘Today, I have sessions with Brittany and Griffin,’ shared the therapist. When she looks for a job opportunity, Hawley emphasizes that she and Griffin come as a package deal. “I rely on him for everything,” she clarified, expressing her familiarity with his presence.

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