Service Pit Bull Walks in Owner’s Place at Graduation Ceremony

The stream of Idaho State University students making their way to the stage looked much like any other group of graduates – except that one of them sported black fur instead of a black cap and gown. The university allowed faithful service dog, Cletus, to walk on behalf deceased companion, Josh Kelly.

Josh, a geosciences major, suffered from epilepsy, a challenge that turned earning his degree into a decade-long process. But neither the fear of seizures nor the daily 2-mile walk to catch the bus kept Josh from pursuing his dream; his family credits his dedicated service pup as part of his inspiration to keep going.

Many were surprised by the choice of a pit bull for a service dog (even Josh’s father), but we’re happy that the skeptics realized that breed isn’t the sole dictator of behavior. Cletus became a beloved figure on campus.

“I’ll be honest,” said Joshua Kelly’s father, Terrell. “I was one of them that was giving (pit bulls) a bad rep until I met Cletus… He’s just great.”


Josh passed in February of this year, but the university allowed his father and Cletus to accept his posthumous diploma. Josh and Cletus’ tenacity won’t soon be forgotten as ISU has officially changed the name of an undergraduate study hall in the geosciences department to “Cletus’ Corner.”

h/t to Local News 8 and Elite Daily

Laura Hartle

8 years ago