Service dog gets his photo in the school yearbook
Have you ever seen a dog in a yearbook? The following is a story about a service dog named Alpha that made the pages of his human companion’s high school yearbook. The story originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee and was written by Kate Irby.
Out of the hundreds of pictures in a yearbook, usually a few are going to be silly or inspire a few laughs. That’s the case for Alpha Schalk’s photo, but people are having trouble deciding if it’s more funny or cute.
AJ Schalk is a 16-year-old junior at Stafford High School in Falmouth, Virginia. Schalk has Type 1 diabetes, and his service dog Alpha alerts him when his blood sugar gets too low.
“The amazing thing about Alpha is that he knows 20 to 40 minutes before my blood sugar actually does go low or high due to his amazing sense of smell,” Schalk told BuzzFeed. “He has saved my life multiple times already, by waking me up in the middle of the night to extremely low blood sugars, which are very dangerous.”
According to Diabetic Alert Dogs of America, dogs can smell the chemicals that go along with low blood sugar.
“Our bodies are a unique makeup of organic chemicals – all of which have very specific smells. Low and high blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia/ hyperglycemia, release chemicals in the body that have a distinct odor that is undetectable by humans,” the website explains. “Our training process positively motivates these dogs to alert when these odors are detected.”
AJ started bringing Alpha to school last year, where Alpha follows him to all his classes. Since he was such a large part of AJ’s school experience, he asked the yearbook staff if Alpha could be included, and they said yes, according to BuzzFeed.
“He has been a great companion and added a lot of happiness to my school’s environment,” Schalk told BuzzFeed. “It brightens people’s days seeing him in the halls or in my class and I love being able to have that effect on people.”
The original story can be found here