What’s better than graduating from college? How about earning your degree with your best friend by your side? Especially when your friend is a lovable golden retriever named Chief. This was a reality for one University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) student as she and her service dog walked across the graduation stage together, receiving a diploma and some well deserved applause.
Partners In Studies
Erica Haschert and her service dog Chief graduate together today at @umbc . Chief went viral on social media during last year’s March Madness thanks to @dog_rates Haschert says the two will start working for the Department of Defense soon. #wbal pic.twitter.com/6xDwyZyjKI
— Lowell Melser (@MelserWBAL) May 23, 2019
This year the speakers were not the most honored guests at UMBC’s graduation ceremony. A Golden Retriever named Chief became the talk of the event. Chief’s human, Erica Haschert, told WBAL 11 News her service dog is a fixture on campus and her steadfast support system.
“He has helped me so much to get to this point. It’s only fitting he gets to walk with me,” she said.
Haschert earned a degree in mechanical engineering. As always, Chief walked by her side when she obtained her diploma. He wore his own custom-made cap and gown. Adorable!
This dog supported Haschert through the ups and downs of getting an education. He was a constant companion. She said,
“He knows my every move before I even think it sometimes. I joke, he’s my tattletale on my body, so he lets me know before stuff happens before usually any of the medical devices can pick it up, which is incredible.”
Haschert was diagnosed with pain disorders and two mental illnesses. She began personally training Chief when he was a puppy.
This is Chief. He’s hype as h*ck for the game. Claims he’s been a fan forever. 13/10 really hopes both teams have fun pic.twitter.com/tO0LPuxZP8
— WeRateDogs™ 🏳️🌈 (@dog_rates) March 19, 2018
A Campus Celebrity
This isn’t the first time Chief received local recognition for his activities around UMBC. In March 2018, the popular Twitter account We Rate Dogs tweeted about Chief’s basketball fandom during the March Madness NCAA tournament.
Haschert described his celebrity status this way, “After he went viral last year for March Madness, people recognize him and say, ‘Oh, is that Chief?’ and I’m, like, ‘Yeah, that’s him.’”
With their degree in hand and paw, Haschert and Chief are ready for the “real world.” Their relationship will continue into the next phase of both their lives. Haschert plans to work for the Department of Defense.
“I’m just super looking forward to starting my next chapter in my life with him by my side until he wants to stop working,” Haschert said.
Meet the precocious pup and his high-achieving human in the video below.
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