Mona, a Labradoodle that serves as her owner's diabetic alert dog, is the first dog to receive an honorary "dog-ree" from the University of West Georgia

By Kelli Bender
December 09, 2020 02:40 PM
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Credit: Courtesy of University of West Georgia

Mona and her owner Maggie Leptrone made it through school together, so it makes sense they graduated side-by-side.

According to a release from the University of West Georgia, at the college's in-person commencement ceremony on Saturday both Mona and Leptrone received degrees.

Leptrone walked off the stage with a bachelor’s degree from the university's Tanner Health System School of Nursing and Mona fetched the school's first-ever honorary "dog-gree" for keeping Maggie safe during school.

Mona is Leptrone's diabetic alert dog.  She is trained to sniff out dangerous fluctuations in her owner's blood sugar and bring them to Leptrone's attention.

"In my junior year of high school, there came a day when my blood sugar went way too low and I could not get it back to where it needed to be for a long time," Leptrone, who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes as a child, said. "I drifted into a mini-coma during my sleep, and my parents could not wake me up for a long time. Once I came to and got my blood sugar back to a manageable level, my mom decided that I needed something I could really depend on in my upcoming college life."

That something was Mona, who was trained by Diabetic Alert Dogs of America to help keep Leptrone healthy. The service dog's owner admits that it took some time to get used to always having a canine companion, especially when it came to interacting with others, but she now has "a pretty good handle on informing the public about what it means to have a service dog and what kind of service dog mine is."

Credit: Courtesy of University of West Georgia

Along with accompanying Leptrone to graduation, Mona also attended classes, labs, and clinical placements with her owner.

"Every one of my professors has been a blessing to me," Leptrone said in the school's release. "They have been understanding of my situation and welcomed Mona and myself with open arms. My professors did not see a hindrance to my education but saw a student who has overcome a lot of odds to get where she is today. Each professor worked with me and helped me find ways to do my job with Mona staying at my side."

Credit: Courtesy of University of West Georgia

Leptrone is obviously pleased with Mona as well for keeping her safe and healthy throughout school and for being "a trailblazer at UWG for students like me who require a service dog to manage their health."