A family in Louisville, Kentucky received quite a surprise when an elementary school saved a special spot in its yearbook for one good girl.
St. Patrick Catholic School included Labradoodle service dog, Ariel, among its kindergarten class to surprise 7-year-old Hadley Jo Lange.
Hadley Jo suffers from epilepsy, a neurological disorder where brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures.
Heather Lange, Hadly Jo’s mother, recalls, “Hadley Jo had her first seizure on my lap at 17 months old, it was a very scary time in our life.”
Since then, seizures have become a normal part of Hadley Jo’s everyday life.
“This dog has really saved my daughter’s life,” Heather said. “I don’t know how I could ever thank Ariel as a mother. She goes with her everywhere, to school, rides the bus with her, goes to her dance classes and soccer practice. She always has her eyes on my little girl. It’s a huge sense of security.”
Ariel was just a puppy when she bonded with Hadley Jo, and the now 4-year-old service dog can recognize when the up-and-coming first grader is having an episode.
“She’s able to alert us before a seizure happens and we’re able to administer rescue medication in less than 2 minutes in order to stop the seizure, so that’s pretty life-changing for us,” Heather shared.
She added, “Most of our seizures are happening at school right now. Fine motor skills trigger seizures. Critical thinking, deep concentration, things like that. So, we’re really lucky to have Ariel because she can go to school with us.”
Ariel’s inclusion in the yearbook is not just another sweet story, but a story of victory.
Service dogs can cost anywhere between $20,000 to $60,000, and the Lange family was only able to afford Ariel through community fund raising.