A new girl on campus

Paloma de la Riva

More stories from Paloma de la Riva

Save a cougar
January 24, 2018

There’s a  new girl on campus, and she walks on all four legs. A labrador retriever, Graceland, runs the school since junior, Hailey Shaw, took on the challenge of training her as a service dog for the blind.

As part of her 14-18 month training, Graceland will follow and attend classes with Shaw. She will learn the basics of what it takes to be a service animal.  After she completes the basic training, Graceland will travel to California where she will complete her training followed by a series of tests.

“It’s going to be hard training her for so long just to give her up, but it just teaches me certain things,” Shaw said. “It’s cool to learn more things about dogs and work with them.”

Shaw has a job at an animal shelter where she works with animals every day. However, Shaw has faced and will continue to face many challenges while training Graceland, including having other students pet her.

“A lot of people try to touch her, which I kind of get mad about,” Shaw said.

Shaw said she hopes to attend Texas A&M University to become a vet, and training this service dog gives her a chance to gain more experience. However, she believes this experience means more than just the work hours.

“I’m doing it for animal hours for vet school, but I’m also doing it to give back to the community,” Shaw said. “I don’t get paid to do this, it’s all community service.”