ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Do you remember the dog who graduated from Hardin-Simmons University’s (HSU) Physical Therapy Program in December? Well, since Greer’s graduation, a new puppy is roaming HSU’s halls in her place.

Meet Dion. Some HSU students told KTAB/KRBC her name means protector, and they’re making sure she lives up to that name.

“She’s going to impact their life in such a positive way,” encouraged Dr. Janelle O’Connell, Dean of HSU’s College of Health Professions and Physical Therapy (PT) Department’s professor. 

Since Greer’s graduation, she’s going off to professional training with Canine Companions, where the pros will decide where she can best help someone in need. 

Deciding to take in another dog for the PT program, one first-year PT student vouched for the move.

“There is an aspect where you question whether or not you can do this,” student Cameron Matocha explained.

Matocha has been able to get to know Greer since August, including, “Having this whole process to be able to have another dog trained to Greer’s level is going to be quite the experience.”

Students will be assigned a shift to take care of Dion, which entails either bringing her to class with them, or, sometimes, taking her home. 

“It’s definitely a full day when you have her, but knowing that you’re training her, and she’s not just there, it does make it a lot easier,” said Weston Hickman, another first-year PT student.

Hickman told KTAB/KRBC this puppy dog face makes it all worth it, and sometimes even helps with his stress. 

“You just walk out, and there it is,” Hickman shook his head. “You just have to smile.”

Dr. O’Connell said Dion’s presence is an important part of her students’ education because she was able to see how it helped the class that recently graduated.

“They made a commitment,” Dr. O’Connell insisted. “They fulfilled the commitment and understand the impact a dog can have on someone’s life.”

Even though Greer’s leaving is bittersweet, O’Connell said she knows she will do great things. 

“She’ll learn to turn lights on and off, she’ll get out of bed and hold a toothbrush for a quadriplegic so they can brush their teeth,” added Dr. O’Connell. 

Dion will be with HSU’s PT department for 14-16 months and will learn about 40 commands. 

On Wednesday, the department will host a going away party for Greer, who has already completed these tasks.