Students at Stafford High School in Falmouth, Virginia, were pleasantly surprised when a classmate’s service dog appeared in their yearbook’s pages.
Andrew Schalk, a high school junior with type 1 diabetes, and his dog, Alpha, go everywhere together — including school.
Alpha helps Schalk manage his blood sugar levels.
“Alpha’s job is to alert me to my blood sugar through smell 20 to 40 minutes sooner than I know anything is wrong,” Schalk told the Daily News. “He is a huge help in controlling my blood sugar levels,” he said.
Alpha has been going to school and attending classes with Schalk for a year and a half now, and is popular among Schalk’s friends.
“Everyone loves him and it has been fantastic,” Schalk said. “Everyone in class and in the hallways knows who he is, and it really brightens everybody’s day.”
This year, Alpha, an integral member of the school’s community, was featured alongside students in the Stafford High School yearbook.Schalk proposed a portrait of the pup, and said the yearbook’s staff was “100 percent behind it.”“On yearbook picture day I got my picture taken and scooted over and he got his picture taken,” Schalk said. “He just had on his vest, as always. He was in his standard wear as if out in public.”Social media users responded to a student’s post of the pup’s portrait.
“Hats off to Stafford High for including a service dog in its yearbook! Way to be inclusive!” Stafford County replied to a picture of the pup’s portrait. “That is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen,” another user said.
The pair are inseparable — for good reason. Schalk said Alpha is responsible for saving his life.
“He has saved my life multiple times by waking me up in the middle of the night and barking. He has been fantastic,” Schalk said.
Schalk looks forward to having his pal with him when he attends college.
“He will be with me whatever step I decide to take after high school and he will be there until he retires.”