September is National Service Dog Month and there’s a new addition to Davenport West High School’s cross country team, and he’s a German Shepherd. Hugo is a 20-month-old service dog who helps his buddy Tyler Gerdts, a junior in high school, participate in the sport he’s passionate about.
Tyler is autistic and was born with a brain injury, but that didn’t stop him from joining the team and running. With Hugo at his side, he’s the first student athlete in the state of Iowa to run cross country with a service dog. And he continues to break his personal records with cheers from spectators on both sides.
Hugo is specifically trained to smell harmful gases, as Tyler has no sense of smell, and to help with anxiety. He’s also able to track just in case Tyler wanders off. Tyler says that Hugo is his best friend, and the two clearly have a special bond. His family, teammates, and coaches are all very proud of Tyler, and we’re sure Hugo is, too!