Good Boy Assistance Dog Graduates University With Honours
Kirby Bell has been living the student's dream, sleeping through all six years of his university classes and still graduating with honours alongside his owner.
Kirby has had the important job of assisting his owner, Brianna Bell, throughout her years of study -- including ensuring people don't crowd around her, picking up objects and opening doors for his best friend.
Brianna, who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects her connective tissue, joints and circulatory system, said Kirby has been by her side through almost all of her time at university.
“He’s really made it possible for me to get to the end of my degree,” Brianna said.
While he didn't need any special training for the pair's graduation ceremony, Kirby previously underwent training by a team of experts to become a fully qualified assistance dog.
His owner said often Kirby appeared to be napping during her classes but was actually performing "deep pressure therapy."
"Basically, he lies across my lap and confuses the pain signals that the nerves would be sending up to my brain, which helps me concentrate in class,” Brianna said.
“He tells me when my heart is about to stop working, which means that I can stop what I’m doing, get down on the floor and prevent head injuries or lessen the impact of the episode.”
Brianna, who has now graduated from a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree, is also using her experience to educate people about how to interact with service animals.
“Trying to attract an assistance dog’s attention not only distracts them from their work, which is the most important and immediate thing, but it can also be a really expensive mistake for the handler because sometimes things that people do disrupt the dog’s training and the handler has to go back and correct it,” Brianna said.
She also runs Kirby's very own Twitter account, with the four-year-old terrier cross recently tweeting that he had graduated university.
"Does this officially make me a pawfessional."
Brianna said her beloved companion has "a bigger ego than he can jump over."
“He thinks the whole ceremony is all about him achieving his university degree and everybody is clapping for him.”
.... can you blame him?