An elementary school in Kentucky surprised one of its students by putting her beloved service dog in the yearbook.
Hadley Jo Lange has epilepsy, a neurological disorder that can cause seizures, and so her companion and service dog – Ariel the Labradoodle – comes everywhere with her.
Without Ariel, seven-year-old Hadley Jo may not be alive today.
Having spent the last four years together, Ariel knows Hadley Jo inside out, and can tell when she’s about to have an episode. When he senses a seizure coming up, Ariel barks to alert teachers to what is happening and lies down to provide a cushion in case Hadley Jo falls.
Hadley Jo’s mum, Heather Lange, told CNN:
This dog has really saved my daughter’s life. I don’t know how I could ever thank Ariel as a mother. 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.
So, when it came to picture day, St Patrick Catholic School in Louisville had to honour Ariel, who is loved by all Hadley Jo’s classmates, by giving her a place in the yearbook.
Principal of St Patrick Catholic School, Nathan Sturtzel, said:
It’s important for us to do all we can to foster our relationship with families and do what we can to support students.
We love Ariel. She’s part of Hadley Jo’s family so she’s a part of our family too. 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.
This act of kindness means so much to the Lange family, with Heather explaining how it is a story of victory for children with epilepsy and their families.
When I got the yearbook and saw that they included our service dog, that was one of the most touching moments of my life. The inclusiveness meant so much.
It proved that we may not all look the same, we may not all learn the same, we have differences but it’s okay. We can still be kind and inclusive and accept each other. This yearbook is a huge reflection of that.
Hadley Jo had her first seizure aged just 17 months, and they have since become a regular part of the youngster’s life.
Fortunately, with the help of Ariel, Hadley Jo is able to live a happy life. What a beautiful partnership they make.
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