Not all heroes wear capes — some have four legs and a tail. We are, of course, referring to humankind's best friend. Andrew 'AJ' Schalk, a 16-year-old junior at Stafford High School in Virginia, is accompanied to school each day by his service dog, Alpha. Schalk has Type 1 Diabetes, and Alpha's job is to alert the teen when his blood sugar gets too low or too high.
Needless to say, the black lab is beloved at Stafford High — so it's completely fitting that Alpha got his very own spot in the yearbook. When senior Diana Bloom picked up her copy, seeing Alpha's photo totally made her heart melt, and she was kind enough to share the picture on Twitter so we can all appreciate the touching image.
Alpha is far more than an adorable addition to the yearbook — Schalk says his service dog has saved his life on more than one occasion.
"The amazing thing about Alpha is that he knows 20 to 40 minutes before my blood sugar actually does go low or high due to his amazing sense of smell," he told BuzzFeed News. "He has saved my life multiple times already, by waking me up in the middle of the night to extremely low blood sugars, which are very dangerous."
Alpha began accompanying Schalk to school last year, and the dog quickly became a beloved member of the community — he even has his own school ID. "He has become a huge part of my school, coming to my classes with me, and a lot of people know about him," Schalk says.
So, when he asked if Alpha could be included in the yearbook, the answer was a resounding "yes!" Schalk brought Alpha along when it was time to get his own yearbook picture taken. "The only thing they changed was the camera height," he explains. "They just had to lower it a little."
This is one yearbook photo that'll be really tough to beat.