Celebrating a Canine Companion: Service Dog Receives Honorary Degree for Being an Exceptional Graduation Buddy

Clarkson University held its “December Recognition Ceremony” in Potsdam, N.Y on December 15, 2018. Griffin the Golden Retriever received an honorary diploma at the event, for serving not only as a beloved pet but also as a service dog to his owner Brittany Hawley. During the same ceremony, Brittany received her doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy. The two attended all their classes together and shared a warm embrace to celebrate their academic achievements.

Brittany Hawley shared an unbreakable bond with her service dog, Griffin. Griffin was not just a loyal companion but a constant support system for Hawley. The duo spent most of their time together, from attending lectures to even fetching her phone. During Hawley’s internship where she helped patients, Griffin stayed by her side, providing his unwavering support. When Hawley completed her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Clarkson University, it was only right that Griffin was present to celebrate with her. The university paid tribute to Griffin’s steadfast devotion by conferring him an honorary certificate.

During the weekend, a special event was organized by a school’s board of trustees to honor an exceptional golden retriever named Griffin. The dog has shown an unwavering commitment, exceptional effort, and devoted attention to his owner, Hawley, who is wheelchair-bound and experiences significant discomfort. Despite being just four years old, Griffin has made a significant impact on Hawley’s life. She shared that she fought for Griffin to complete his training because he helps her with everyday activities such as opening doors, turning on lights, and picking up things that she points at using a laser. However, the most crucial role that Griffin plays in Hawley’s life is providing comfort and solace amid her constant pain, which often leads to anxiety and depression.

According to Hawley, she obtained her beloved companion dog, Griffin, through the “paws4prisons” initiative. This program trains and utilizes skilled assistance dogs from West Virginia prisons. During her search for a furry friend, the prisoners presented multiple dogs to her. However, Griffin quickly won her over with his affectionate nature and willingness to approach her wheelchair without fear.

Brittany and Griffin had the chance to intern at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where they encountered soldiers who had several physical and psychological issues. As a part of their program, they used the magic of animal therapy by taking care of dogs and providing assistance to these soldiers. Hawley, who supervised their work, revealed that petting a dog could reduce anxiety, and even brushing them can improve patients’ mobility. This resulted in patients regarding Brittany and Griffin as therapists due to the positive outcomes they experienced.

Hawley expressed her intention to only apply for a job alongside Griffin as they work together as a team. According to her, she has become comfortable with his presence and believes that she won’t be able to perform at her best without him.

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