Dedicated Service Dog Honored with Distinction for Supporting Owner through Graduation

“”Griffin” Hawley, the Golden Retriever service dog, receives a congrats embrace from his owner Brittany Hawley after receiving an honorary diploma from Clarkson on Saturday, December 15, 2018, during the Clarkson University “December Recognition Ceremony” in Potsdam, N.Y. Brittany Hawley, Griffin’s owner, also has a doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy. Both students attended all of their classes together.

Griffin, Brittany Hawley’s devoted service dog, accompanied her to class every time. Griffin would go get her phone if she needed it. Griffin was present even while she was assisting patients as part of an internship.

So it’s only natural that Griffin was there to congratulate Hawley on obtaining her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Clarkson University over the weekend – this time with an honorary certificate of his own.

“From Day One, I fought for him to graduate,” Hawley said on Monday. “Everything I did, he did.”

The school’s board of trustees honored the 4-year-old golden retriever during a recognition event on Saturday, saying he displayed “exceptional effort, unshakable devotion, and devoted attention to the well-being and academic achievement” of Hawley.

Hawley, 25, of Wilson, North Carolina, is wheelchair-bound and suffers from severe discomfort. Griffin, she claims, does a variety of physical activities for her, such as opening doors, turning on lights, and bringing her goods that she designates with a laser pointer. But maybe more importantly, the dog brings consolation in the midst of her constant, acute pain, which generates worry and melancholy.

Griffin was obtained by Hawley through the “paws4prisons” program, which educates convicts in West Virginia prisons how to train and deploy high-level support dogs.

“The convicts let multiple dogs approach you and let the dog chose you,” Hawley explained. “Some of the dogs were terrified of the wheelchair. Griffin rushed into my lap and licked the side of my face.”

During an internship, Hawley and Griffin assisted troops with physical limitations as well as psycho-social issues at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Brushing a dog can assist enhance a patient’s range of motion, and touching him can help relieve anxiety, according to Hawley.

“My patients would remark, ‘Today, my therapists are Brittany and Griffin,’” she explained.

When she applies for employment, she and Griffin will be considered a package deal, according to Hawley.

“I couldn’t do anything without him,” she explained. “I’m so used to seeing him.”

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