A service dog in School?


Dillon the Wonder Dog.

Marissa Gaslin, Feature Writer

In the middle of her Sophomore year, CIHS senior Aspen Henly was having some pretty severe health issues. She says that she would get very sick, and “pass out” and it was beginning to cause a problem seeing as she was falling down, she even fell down a flight of stairs and in a parking lot. No doctor could figure out what was going on with her, and they were checking just about every possible option.
In the beginning of her Junior year here at CIHS, Aspen was diagnosed with Non Epileptic Seizure Attacks causing her to be out of school for an entire month on strict bed rest. Due to the time she spent in the doctor’s office or at home on bed rest, Aspen struggled to pass the tenth grade. It was a very stressful time for the entire family.
Because the attacks were non-epileptic, the doctors couldn’t just prescribe medications in hopes that things would get better for Aspen. The family was looking for better options for treatment, management, or safety. The best option they found was a cute one named Dillon Nathaniel. A service dog.
Initially, Aspen’s mother was the only family member that supported her in getting this dog, seeing as her dad was extremely against it, but as they checked into their options, he became less hesitant.
To get an already trained service dog was a down payment of $1,500, so to avoid such a high cost, they decided to look into training rescue dogs instead. They found Dillon and went to meet him. As they were walking into the door of Dillons temporary home, Aspen seized and Dillon came running to help her. This is when they knew that he was the perfect match for the family. He had already sensed that something was wrong with her, and he was concerned for her already. He was especially focused on Aspen the entire time that the family was there, and everyone knew he was coming home with them at that point.
After this event, they very quickly adopted Dillon and brought him home. He was put into basic obedience school and then into advanced training. Dillon had two main alerts, one for seizures, and one for high heart rate. If Dillon senses either of these issues, he will persistently nudge Aspen with his snout, and if she still chooses to ignore him, he will either jump on her or push her over.
Even though Aspen has a 504 plan in place due to school policy, there has been a lot of controversy over Aspen having this dog in the school. Some students say that she’s just doing it for the sake of attention, and others think it’s okay to take their animals everywhere. Sometimes students harass Dillon, one time a student came up behind him and pulled his tail. I have seen Dillon’s tail and it’s a little stub, so it was very obviously on purpose.
Dillon has helped Aspen greatly throughout the last few years that she has had him, and he is quite persistent in his care for Aspen. Even though he gets crabby if he doesn’t get a banana every morning, Dillon is an expert caregiver.