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Meet Alpha, the Labrador Retriever included in this Virginia high school’s yearbook

Meet Alpha, the Labrador Retriever included in this Virginia high school’s yearbook. (Photo: AJ Schalk)

When students at Stafford High School received their yearbook this year, they were surprised to see a familiar furry friend inside.

“People are always happy to see him in the hallways,” Andrew “AJ” Schalk said in an interview with ABC7 News.

Pictured here is Alpha, a three and a half-year-old Labrador Retriever. He’ll be four in September, and is currently a “student” at the high school.

“Alpha started coming to school with me halfway through my sophomore year,” AJ said.

First Alpha came one day a week, then two, then three, and now every day. And while it may make people happy to see him, Alpha attends school with AJ for a very serious reason.

AJ has Type 1 diabetes. Alpha alerts his faithful owner when his blood sugar gets too high or too low.

“My blood sugar goes up and down multiple times a day,” AJ said. “And Alpha lets me know.”

For the most part, Alpha sits under AJ’s desk, not disturbing the class, but when he senses something amiss with his owner, he paws him. For us, it’s like when a dog is giving a high-five.

“He’s saved my life multiple times. In the middle of the night, when my blood sugar is too low, he wakes me up,” AJ said.

AJ, who is a junior now, told us that Alpha started attending the school too late last year to be in the yearbook. So this year, when it was time to take school photos, he asked his friend if Alpha could have his taken.

AJ said his friend was excited and had the idea approved by the yearbook teacher and then administration. Administration was totally on-board.

AJ told us on picture day, they took his photo first, then lowered the camera and took Alpha’s.

When AJ finally got his yearbook he said, “It was so awesome to get to see my dog next to me.”

Everyone’s reaction to seeing Alpha at school has been truly amazing for AJ. He views his disability as something positive because Alpha can make anyone happy.

“If someone is having a bad day, seeing Alpha makes them smile.” And that, in turn, makes AJ smile.

When we asked AJ what his plans were after high school he said, “I’m not sure yet. But whatever my next step is, Alpha will be here with me.”

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