Boy And His Dog Make History Together, Teach Us All How To Trust
It's still very early in the high school fall sports season, but one boy and his dog have already earned an honorable statewide title.
Tyler Gerdts and Hugo became the first student athlete and dog duo in all of Iowa to compete in a cross country meet together, running side-by-side.
A junior at Davenport West High School, Gerdts is in his fifth year of running cross country, but this is the first year he's run alongside Hugo.
Here's a video of Gerdts and Hugo running mid-race.
Off-screen, you can hear a woman cheering on the pair. That's Gerdts' mother, Kelley, who told The Dodo, "these two were meant for one another."
When looking for a service dog, the Gerdts family knew they'd need to find one with plenty of stamina to keep up with Tyler's training schedule. Now, the two run several miles together each day.
Gerdts was born with brain injuries and has autism, according to KWQC Iowa. Since Gerdts can't smell, Hugo also helps him detect potentially dangerous gasses. Additionally, the dog helps Gerdts with his anxiety: something service dogs can do really well.
"Hugo connects with Tyler in ways no one else has ever been able to connect with him and reaches places within Tyler's heart that no one else has," said Kelley Gerdts. "And to see your kiddo finally have that type of connection with anyone is overwhelming."
If you'd like to follow Hugo and Gerdts' progress, you can follow Hugo's very own Facebook page.
Below are a few additional posts leading up to Tyler and Hugo's historic race day.