A West Michigan high school senior is preparing for graduation with a very important companion by her side.
Desi, who attends Freedom Christian High School in Hudsonville, says if it wasn't for her service 6-year-old dog Walton, a golden retriever, she wouldn't be graduating. According to a story in the Huffington Post, Desi's family asked that her last name not be used to protect her privacy.
Desi wanted to do something for her service dog on graduation day, so she decided to get Walton his own gown and have him walk at graduation with her.
"I'm graduating, really, but Walton has done as much work as I have, you know, getting me through the day, helping me survive in school, so he should graduate, too," Desi said.
Desi has cerebral palsy. As she got older, things got harder. She wanted more independence, and that's where Walton comes in.
"His biggest job is helping me walk and keeping me upright. Basically, my balance is really bad. If I'm about to fall, which I do a lot, he can sense that and he will make himself hard as rock, he rights me before I can fall," Desi said.
Before getting Walton, Desi was homeschooled. "There was no way I could make it through a day walking. I have no stamina. Without him I really couldn't have been able to do this at all," she said.
She's only had Walton for four years, but they've built a strong bond.
"It seems like such a long time, I don't even know what I did before I had him, I don't even know how I functioned," she said.
Desi's mom, Laurel, says she couldn't be more proud of Desi and how hard she has worked to get to this day.
"It makes a statement, I think, to the community that you know anything can happen, you can accomplish anything, and we can see that, Desi has done that," she said.
Desi says she's not sure what's next for her and Walton, but she would like to work at an animal shelter or rescue because not only does she love animals, but that way, Walton can fit right in.