“Griffin” Hawley, the Golden Retriever service dog, receives a congrats embrace 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 has a doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy. All of the students’ classes were attended together.
Every time Brittany Hawley went to class, Griffin accompanied her. Whenever she needed her phone, Griffin would get it. In the course of her internship, Griffin was present even when she was assisting patients.
Therefore, Griffin was on hand to congratulate Hawley on achieving her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Clarkson University this past weekend – this time with a personal honorary certificate.
“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, saying he displayed “exceptional effort, unshakable devotion, and devoted attention to the well-being and academic achievement” of Hawley.
Hawley, 25, of Wilson, North Carolina, suffers from severe discomfort and is wheelchair-bound. With a laser pointer, she indicates that Griffin opens doors, turns on lights, and brings the goods that she specifies. Perhaps more importantly, the dog gives her consolation in the midst of her constant, acute pain, which creates worry and depression.
Hawley obtained Griffin through the “paws4prisons” program, which teaches West Virginia prison inmates how to train and deploy high-level support dogs.
“The convicts let multiple dogs approach you and let the dog chose you,” Hawley explained. “Some of the dogs were terrified of the wheelchair. Griffin rushed into my lap and licked the side of my face.”
As interns at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Hawley and Griffin helped troops with physical limitations and psychosocial issues. According to Hawley, brushing a dog can help improve a patient’s range of motion, while touching him can reduce anxiety.
“My patients would remark, ‘Today, my therapists are Brittany and Griffin,'” she explained.
According to Hawley, she and Griffin will be considered a package deal when she applies for employment.
“I couldn’t do anything without him,” she explained. “I’m so used to seeing him.”