A service dog’s posed photo appears next to the boy she helps in the school’s yearbook
A page of a middle school yearbook has gone viral, with the image being widely shared on Facebook. The reason? One of the “students” among the seventh grade portraits on the page actually isn’t a student at all, but is no less a member of the school community. This special “student” happens to be a dog. A service dog, to be exact. She’s the constant companion of a young boy, so her position next to him in the yearbook makes total sense. And is also totally adorable.
According to Today, 14-year-old Seph Ware has a genetic disorder called Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition which gradually weakens the muscles. When he trips at school or drops items, his service dog Presley hurries to help him.
Seph’s father Joseph says Presley helps his son everyday. “The dog has been a real blessing. The dog has been great for Seph in every single way.”
Check them out, right next to each other in the yearbook.
The staff and students all know Presley by name and it was yearbook adviser Sonya Hogg who made sure to include her photo along with the rest of the seventh-graders. Hogg says, “She’s part of our student body. She goes everywhere Seph goes. She knows exactly what to do in each teacher’s class. She knows where to go, she’s quiet, she’s still. She never bothers or disrupts anyone.”
As far as getting a dog to pose for a photo, it was about as easy as you’d expect. Which is to say, it took some doing. “When we would walk up to her to try to straighten her or turn her the right way, she would sit down and roll over on her back because she wanted us to rub her tummy,” explains Hogg. “The leash was the trick. When we let her keep the leash in her mouth and tell her to sit, she did it. We got her picture.”
And so came to be one of the cutest yearbook photos of all time, a sweet dog holding her leash next to the boy she devotes her whole life to. But of course, this photo goes far beyond simply being cute. Seph deals with the physical limitations of his condition every day, but it sounds like having Presley with him makes it so much better.
It would be easy for the teen to feel different or ostracized from his peers, as people don’t see service dogs every day and children are bound to ask questions and wonder why one kid gets to have a cool pet with him at school and they don’t. That’s why the school’s efforts to include Presley in such a positive and visible way are something that must mean a lot to the Ware family. It’s one less thing to concern them as they navigate Seph’s disorder and try to make sure his life is as normal as possible.
As parents, all we want is for our kids to feel included and to have the best school experience we can give them. It’s things like this that make a huge difference in the experience of a child. Hopefully as he grows up, Seph will have many more yearbook photos with Presley by his side.