Say Hello to Will, the First On-Campus Service Dog


Cristina Kairalla

A photo of our furriest Cavalier, Will.

Audrey Simon, Staff Writer

For the first time ever since Coral Gables Senior High School has opened its doors, it is now opening those doors not only to students but also to a service dog named Will, who is prepared to do his job for his owner Cristina Kairalla.

Will, the yellow lab, was named after Good Will Hunting, a name given to him by his training facility. Will has been training since he was 6 weeks old. It began as basic training until he was 6 months old and started to learn the special tasks it takes to be a service dog. He is very well-trained and continues to excel at it.

Cristina did not face many challenges to get Will. Three years ago when she was on the waitlist for the Coral Gables High School program, she alerted administration that she would be receiving a service dog. So everything was all set up for her when she was ready to receive Will, all she had to do was pick him up from the training facility.

Pullquote Photo

Please just ignore him, I know he is cute and super friendly, but he is a medical device that helps keep me alive. Would you touch an IV pole or wheelchair?”

— senior Cristina Kairalla

Cristina’s routine has not changed much since receiving Will. Will loves to sleep, so he sleeps while she gets ready in the morning. She then wakes him up, puts his vest on, gives him water, a snack and a potty break before they hop in the car and head for school.

Once at school, she makes sure his bladder is empty, and then they head to class, where he lays under or next to her desk while in class. They leave class 5 minutes early to prevent him from being trampled in the hallways. During lunch, he gets some water and another potty break.

After school, he gets another potty break, and then they head home. Depending on whether she needs him to work or not he does get to play with her other two dogs after school once she gets home and takes his vest off. She then finishes her homework while he gets his dinner and one final potty break, and then it is bedtime.

“I think having the service dog on campus really shows how great the Gables community has become,” said freshman Sophie Gonzalez. 

With a service dog on campus, it is crucial to follow the dos and dont’s of service dogs.

Always speak to the owner rather than the dog. It is rude to approach the dog instead of the person, and the dog has a job to do, and distracting him sways his focus from that.

Don’t touch the dog without permission first. Touching him can distract him from completing a command and it can also disrupt his routine. Most service dogs are trained to stay in work mode until they receive a release command.

Do treat the owner with sensitivity and respect, asking personal questions about his or her disability is out of bounds. It’s disrespectful and an intrusion of privacy.

Don’t offer food to a service dog, treats can be viewed as a potential distraction or the dog could be on a specific diet.

For more dos and don’ts of interacting with a service dog, check out the tutorial above or go follow @blindhippiedog on Instagram.

This is a big step for Gables, with its newest student having four legs, Will. He is ready to do his job, so please do not disrupt him in the halls and follow the advice given in the service dog etiquette video above.