If you read out story about the Bonehead who took a fake service dog into court and bamboozled a judge, here’s your antidote: A woman who took her legitimate service dog with her to accept her diploma from graduate school at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
The dog wore a cap and gown, too, and stole the show.
“I’ve never had so many Facebook friend requests for my dog in his entire life,” the dog’s owner told Today.com. “I’m just along for the ride!”
Bridget Evans, who graduated with a master’s degree in community health and hospital administration, was born with spina bifida, which impairs her mobility. She uses a wheelchair, and has a service dog named Hero to help her get through the day.
“He’s been with me through all my classes,” Evans said. “He deserved a cap and gown as much as I did.”
Evans’ story swept through social media, thanks to this photo that user f3b14 posted of Evans and the dog on Reddit:
“This picture is everything that is right in the world,” Reddit user AndreThreeHundred wrote.
Evans even joined in the discussion on Reddit, writing details of her life with Hero and posting more pictures.
“Hero knows over 40 commands to assist me! He loves to retrieve objects for me like envelopes, pens, and my crutches. He also turns off the lights, opens doors, and he pulls me in my wheelchair up ramps! I couldn’t have gone to college without him!”
She also wrote how much Hero enjoyed the day.
“He loved it! He loved all the attention too! When we were walking outside to reunite with my family, we were stopped every 10 feet for pictures by random people that loved his cap and gown! He was like a celebrity; I think he realized it was a special day!”
Evans is an old hand with service dogs — aside from working with Hero since he was a pup, she has trained 20 service dogs herself as the founder of Illini Service Dog Program, a student program at her school that allows college students to train service dogs. After the dogs are trained, they are placed with a person with a disability at no cost.
“We can read each other’s minds,” Evans said of Hero. “We’re so attuned to each other. He’s my best friend, roommate, classmate, and like my sibling. I’m so grateful that I got to celebrate my day with Hero by my side and my family in the audience.”