GREENSBORO, NC – Open a yearbook and what do you see? Hundreds of pictures of smiling teenagers and children, posed to for picture perfection. What you don’t expect to see is the smiling, wet-nosed and extremely hairy face of a service dog.
But, that’s what you’ll see when you turn the pages of Northern Guilford High School’s 2016 yearbook. Taffy Hulse, a diabetic alert dog, and right next to him, his human, sophomore Harry Hulse.
The surprise photo shoot was set up by Harry’s mom and staged by Strawbridge Studios.
“I didn’t know until I got to taking pictures,” said Harry. “And then they said, ‘we’re taking a picture of your dog, too.' He looked really cool. He looked better than me,” laughed Harry.
That’s debatable. Yes, Taffy sits up tall and gives a slight smile in his picture, but Harry look just as handsome and happy right next to his pal.
Harry and Taffy became attached at the leash in August of 2015, when Taffy arrived from a Las Vegas training facility. The 15-year-old is an insulin-dependent diabetic, who depends on Taffy to warn him about low or high blood sugar spikes.
“My blood sugar is very unstable,” said Harry, who uses an insulin pump to help regulate his levels. “He’ll alert me when that happens by pawing me on my leg or scratching me.”
At first, Harry said he was worried about depending on and taking Taffy everywhere with him.
“Where would I go? Will be life be unstable? Could I still do things like play soccer and not have to worry about him running off?” Harry questioned.
Then, there’s the thought of bringing Taffy to school and classes. Thankfully, the worry faded away and now, most people ignore their four-legged classmate.
“People really don’t even know he’s there. He’s really quiet,” said Harry.
Taffy, named after the sugary candy as a play on Harry’s diabetes, sniffs and wags his tail along the hallways, stopping for a head rub or picture along the way. But, this highly-trained animal takes his job very seriously, even managing to save Harry’s life a few times.
“When I’m sleeping, I obviously don’t know what’s going on and my mom and dad aren’t aware either," explained the teenager. “My blood sugar is supposed to be between 110 and 150 and once it dropped to 43 while I was asleep. I woke up to Taffy going crazy and pawing me and scratching me and got my level back up.”
Harry said Taffy is definitely his best friend. Taffy, yawned and smiled with his tongue laid to the side. We're sure that means he thinks Harry is his best friend, too.