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Mauro Shines as a Service Dog at Mississippi College

McKayla Hand of Brandon pictured with her service dog, Mauro.

Mauro gets “A” grades as a smart, caring and beloved service dog at Mississippi College.

The friendly Black Lab merits the highest accolades from her owner, MC sophomore Mckayla Hand.

“Mauro is my superhero,” says the 19-year-old Brandon, Mississippi resident. “Sometimes I think I might not be here without him. I for sure do not reward him enough for all he does for me.”

For the past three years, Mckayla and Mauro remained almost inseparable in Mississippi and other places.

Mauro blazed a trail across the Clinton campus for the second year in a row. Without asking, he’s always doing good things to make life easier for Mckayla. Pictures of the Biblical Studies major and her dog appear on the Rankin County student’s Facebook pages.

A well-trained and disciplined medical service dog, Mauro is well-regarded throughout the Mississippi College family. He’s always within barking distance of smiling faces on the Clinton campus – from faculty and staff to students.

Mckayla’s parents, Paul and Melinda Hand, rank among Mauro’s biggest admirers. Year-round, the animal is a comfort and joy to be around for their daughter, a 2015 Brandon High graduate. The Black Lab has won over their hearts.

“Just knowing that Mauro is with Mckayla, especially at night helps us sleep better,” says Paul Hand, a pastor at Pinelake Church in Clinton. “He’s been a wonderful addition to our family that is continuously saving her life.”

Mauro, he said, alerts Mckayla if her “blood sugar is getting out of whack.” Mauro was trained by a prisoner in the CARES program in Kansas a few years ago.

Training for a service dog can begin very early. Some pups begin receiving training after turning three days old.

Across the USA, service dogs help people deal with disabilities, assist Americans who are blind, are facing PTSD, experience anxiety attacks, seizures or need help to cope with diabetes. The list of critical medical issues goes on.

People should never distract service dogs by petting them, making eye contact or trying to communicate with them. Regulations for service dogs are spelled out under Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

So it is perfectly legal for medical service dogs to go to movie theaters, shopping malls, grocery stores, restaurants, schools or other public places.

A recent “USA Today” story spotlights Daisy, a service dog accompanying a student at Wake Forest University almost everywhere. The dog frequents the school library, goes to classes and lives in a residence hall on the North Carolina campus. The diabetic alert dog is beloved by her owner and other Wake Forest students.

The same is true for MC’s delightful duo of Mauro and Mckayla. On walks across the Quad or onto nearby Clinton streets, they frequently encounter friends, including women in her Kissimee Social Tribe.

After earning her bachelor’s degree, Mckayla plans to go to seminary and pursue a Christian ministry to begin her career path. It’s expected that Mauro will be right by her side.

Eventually, medical service dogs reach retirement age. In some cases, that can be as early as age eight, although it can vary.

But for right now, Mauro will remain faithful as ever to Mckayla and continue to do life-saving work. As winter rolls into spring, Mauro will stick around as a conversation piece among dog lovers at Mississippi College.