Golden Retriever Receives Honorary Diploma at Owner’s Graduation
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Golden Retriever Receives Honorary Diploma at Owner’s Graduation


Clarkson University recognized the loyal service dog for his “diligent dedication to the well-being and student success” of Brittany Hawley.

Clarkson University in upstate New York honored the 4-year-old loyal service dog named Griffin on Saturday with a diploma for the “steadfast commitment” after his owner, Brittany Hawley, graduated with a degree in occupational therapy. 

The pair joined forces in 2016 after Hawley, 25, of Wilson, North Carolina, who uses a wheelchair and has chronic pain, applied for a service dog through “paws4prisons,” a program that teaches inmates at West Virginia prisons to train and place high-level assistance dogs.

“The inmates allow many dogs to come up to you and let the dog choose you,” Hawley said. “Some dogs were scared of the wheelchair. Griffin jumped right into my lap and licked me across the face.”

Griffin, who does a wide range of physical tasks, accompanied her to lectures and internships and was always there to render assistance. If she needed her cellphone, Griffin would fetch it. Even when she assisted patients as part of an internship, Griffin was there helping out as well.

Along with opening doors, turning on lights and bringing her items she indicates with a laser pointer, he helped the girl to get through her relentless, severe pain that causes anxiety and depression.

Hawley and Griffin also worked at Fort Bragg in North Carolina during an internship, helping soldiers with mobility problems and mental health issues. Brushing a dog can help improve a patient’s range of motion, and stroking him helps ease anxiety, Hawley said.

So when Hawley was honored for receiving her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Clarkson University over the weekend, Griffin was once again at her side — with an honorary diploma of his own.

accepts his diploma/AP

“I pushed for him to graduate from Day One,” Hawley said. “He did everything I did.”

The board of trustees of the Potsdam, New York, school honored the 4-year-old golden retriever at a recognition ceremony Saturday, saying he demonstrated “extraordinary effort, steadfast commitment and diligent dedication to the well-being and student success” of Hawley.


When she applies for jobs, she and Griffin will be a package deal, Hawley said.

“I couldn’t participate in anything without him,” she said. “I’m so used to him being there.”

In a Facebook post, Hawley expressed her gratitude to Griffin, adding that she was excited for their future adventures: 

Author: USA Really