In a heartwarming event, a loyal service dog, a true good boy, received an honorary degree for assisting his owner in graduating.

“Griffin” Hawley, the Golden Retriever service dog, received a congratulatory hug 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 earned a doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy. Both attended all of their classes together.

Griffin, Brittany Hawley’s dedicated service dog, accompanied her to every class. Griffin would fetch her phone if she needed it. Griffin was even present while she was assisting patients as part of an internship. So, it’s only fitting that Griffin was there to congratulate Hawley on earning 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, stating he displayed “exceptional effort, steadfast devotion, and dedicated attention to the well-being and academic success” of Hawley.

Hawley, 25, of Wilson, North Carolina, is wheelchair-bound and suffers from severe discomfort. Griffin, she claims, performs a variety of physical tasks for her, such as opening doors, turning on lights, and fetching items that she points out with a laser pointer. But perhaps more importantly, the dog provides comfort amidst her constant, severe pain, which leads to anxiety and depression.

Griffin was obtained by Hawley through the “paws4prisons” program, which trains inmates in West Virginia prisons on how to train and place high-level service dogs.

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

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

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

When she applies for a job, 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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