HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (June 2, 2014) — As students across West Michigan celebrate graduation, one high school senior is crediting her sidekick, a golden retriever, for helping her get her diploma.
We first met Desi and her service dog, Walton, last month. But Monday was the big night: graduation. As some 35 graduates filed into Freedom Christian High School in Hudsonville, among them was Desi’s four-legged companion.
Desi has cerebral palsy and got Walton just four years ago. “I really, really couldn’t be where I am right now in this stage of my life without him,” she said. “Before him, I would come to school in a wheelchair.”
Their bond is easy to see but so much deeper than most could understand. It’s why, Desi says, it was so important to have Walton at graduation, dressed in a cap and gown, to accept that diploma with her.
In fact, both of their names were called to accept the diploma.
“He really has put in the work,” said Desi. “I mean, holding me up is a full-time job.” Holding her up in more ways than one. Walton was at Desi’s side through her entire high school career and by her side again as they moved on to the next chapter in their lives.
During commencement, a slideshow displayed baby pictures of the students. Walton was there, as a puppy.
“Walton really has become a part of the class,” Desi said. “In a small school like this, you can’t help but be a family. He really has become a huge part of the class.”
The pair proved that anything is possible, “This kind of proved to me, wow I can do it. I have this accomplishment I didn’t think I was going to have, honestly, a few years ago.”
Desi says she would like to work at an animal shelter or rescue.