Pup and Circumstance: Service Dog Joins University Graduation Ceremony

Barkley service dog and Devon MacPherson at graduation

One member of York University’s class of 2015 is a little hairier than the others.

Barkley, a standard Poodle, wore a cap and gown as he accompanied Devon MacPherson across the stage yesterday during the school’s graduation ceremony in Toronto.

“He deserved to go because he went to every single class with me,” MacPherson, who has an anxiety disorder, told the Canadian Press. Barkley is her mental health service dog.

“He can smell when my anxiety is going to rise through a chemical called oxytocin, and he nudges me when that is a bit out of whack,” she said.

Barkley helped give MacPherson the confidence to become a mental health advocate. He served as the inspiration for her undergraduate thesis, which explores the effect of service dogs on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

service dog Barkley wears cap and gown at graduation

MacPherson received a degree yesterday in individualized studies focusing on the human/animal bond. She and Barkley will return to York University this fall as she begins working toward her master’s degree in the school’s critical disabilities program.

She told the Toronto Star she hopes there is soon a national policy on service dogs.

Here in the U.S., two service dogs were recently honored by having their photos included in the staff section of the yearbook for Blaine High School in Minnesota.

Photos via TwitterTwitter

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!