The Story Behind the “Graduate Dog” Photo

Written by: Phil Monahan

Bridget Evans with her service dog Hero and parents on her graduation day.
Photo via

On Wednesday, we posted a photo of a graduate and her service dog on the Orvis Dogs Facebook page, and the image received more likes (almost 2,500) than anything we’ve ever posted before. At the time, the woman’s identity was unknown to us, but then she posted a comment below her picture on our page!

The Today Pets site now has the full story of Bridget and her dog, Hero:

The 6-year-old chocolate lab caused quite a stir at Evans’ commencement, as curious students and their families stopped her “every 5 feet” to take photos. When Evans graduated from college, her now-retired service dog Coal wore his own cap, but this time around she went all out by specially ordering the cap and gown from a graduation company, which was all too eager to oblige her.

Hero has certainly earned his robes. He’s helped Evans maneuver the university’s large campus, pulling her up ramps and guiding her through the snow. Because of him, she’s never missed a class.

“I don’t think I could’ve gone without him,” she said. “He picks up pens, turns off lights for me when I go to bed, and has boosted my confidence when meeting people.”

Bridget even started the  the Illini Service Dog Program on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus in 2010. She’s a remarkable woman, and we’re sure that she’l be putting her recently earned Master’s Degree in community health and hospital administration to good use.

Click here for the full story.

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