She has long red hair. Fair complexion. A high-school senior. Quiet. Mild mannered. When she speaks, her voice sounds like Locust Fork, Alabama.

Her name is Morgan. Seated beside her is Clarabelle, a black Labrador wearing a Service Dog Alabama vest.

Morgan has paralysis on the left side of her body; her left hand doesn’t work. She has frequent seizures, she is sensitive to light. She has diabetes. She has low vision, and is nearly blind in one eye. Her intestines are paralyzed, too, so digestion is an issue. A day in the life of Morgan is no walk on the beach.

Her health issues stem from a previous bout with encephalitis (brain swelling). The encephalitis complications should have killed her. But they didn’t.

“Took me six months to learn to walk again,” she said. “But I knew I could do it. I believed I could.”

She’s a tough cookie. Morgan practically grew up in Children’s hospital, in Birmingham. Her youth was nothing like the average American childhood. While most kids were busy playing in their backyard sprinklers, eating Flinstone Push Ups, Morgan was in a hospital room, relearning how to walk.

Her mother remained at her bedside. When Morgan was too paralyzed to feed herself or hold her head upright, nurses did these things for her.

“My happiest childhood memories are at Children’s hospital. Those people love me.”

In her teenage years, things have gotten even tougher. What she misses most is her independence. When you deal with the medical trials Morgan deals with, you’re always under supervision. This gets old, fast.

“I couldn’t do anything on my own. Couldn’t even walk the school hallway without nurses hovering around me, waiting for me to have a seizure.”

Morgan wouldn’t sleep by herself, for fear a nighttime seizure would kill her. She wouldn’t eat by herself, for fear that she would choke. She couldn’t drink a bottle of water without someone nearby.

“I was always afraid. Always.”

But her story has a good ending, inasmuch as Morgan isn’t afraid anymore. Not even a little bit. Because now she has Clarabelle.

Enter Clarabelle. You’re looking at 65 pounds of pure black Lab, seated beside Morgan, wearing a bone-serious face. The dog glances at me now and then, but the animal makes it clear, she’s not here to mess around.

Clarabelle is working. She is constantly monitoring Morgan’s physical body, ready to alert for an oncoming seizure.

“Before Clarabelle, I had no independence. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom by myself. Now, I do everything by myself. I’m a regular kid… Sorta.”

Thanks to Service Dogs Alabama, Morgan is independent. To prove it, next semester, Morgan is going away to college. She will be a freshman at UAB. Morgan will live on her own. She will do everything on her own.

Morgan will live the obligatory college life. She will do all things ordinary college kids do: she will spend hours creating TikToks, listen to loud music, eat too much junk food, and waste entire years of her life learning about the cosine.

Meantime, Clarabelle will continue to do her job. She will alert before Morgan has a seizure. She will help Morgan off the ground after seizures. She will help Morgan walk if need be. Clarabell even helps Morgan get dressed.

“Clarabelle is my everything. We’re so tight. She totally feels it when I’m suffering. We’re that close.

“One time, I couldn’t breathe, and they thought I was dying. The ambulance came. But Clarabelle wasn’t allowed to be with me when I was with the paramedics. So she was freaking out and barking. Because she considers me her baby.”

When Clarabelle finally reunited with Morgan in the hospital, Morgan was intubated, attached to a ventilator. It was a hard sight to see. But nobody took it harder than Clarabelle.

“Clarabelle got so upset when she saw me on that breathing machine, she started puking and crying. Then, she jumped up in my bed, laid her body on me. Nobody could get her off. She wouldn’t even leave me to go pee. I am her child.”

I ask Morgan what it’s like having a service dog wherever she goes.

“Well, before Clarabelle, I was so scared. Nobody understood me. Nobody could relate to what I was going through. I was friendless and alone. Clarabelle saved me. Clarabelle gave me back my life. I wish more people knew how great she is.”

I’ll tell as many as I can, Morgan.


  1. Denise Walker - February 2, 2023 3:23 am

    It is so wonderful to learn that Clarabell has her purpose in life and it is making sure her ‘baby’ is doing well. It’s incredible to me that a dog is so tuned in to her ‘person’ that she can make such a difference in both of their lives. God bless you, Morgan, and God bless you, Clarabell. And thanks, Sean, for sharing this story.

  2. Steve Winfield (lifer) - February 2, 2023 3:30 am

    Being the first to comment is awesome. I can’t believe how many followers you have these days.
    So happy to read about Morgan & her dog. I have a feeling she’ll do great at UAB. Please be careful crossing at intersections. It’s a madhouse down there.

  3. denise - February 2, 2023 3:30 am

    It’s unbelievable what service dogs can and do for their person. It’s sad that most people who need their help fall between the cracks. Some make too much money to qualify (by that I mean by government standards)-their disability income disqualifies them, or they have so little income they can’t afford the cost. Morgan is so blessed.

  4. Mark Capaldini - February 2, 2023 3:37 am

    Service dogs are amazing assets for their masters. Our family has fostered several service dogs in training for our Minnesota provider,0 Can Do Canines. When one had to stop her training due to health issues, we adopted her as our family pet. Health problem resolved with a special diet. There’s only one problem now. We have a dog that is smarter than I am.

  5. Danielle Dewberry - February 2, 2023 3:39 am

    My husband has a service dog from Service Dogs Alabama as well. Her name is Sadie. We came to meet you at a book signing December of 2021 at Page and Palette in Fairhope, Al. We cannot recommend that organization highly enough! All of the dogs from the facility are amazing and they are a huge blessing to the individuals (and their families) to whom they are assigned.

  6. Janie Kelly - February 2, 2023 3:42 am

    The stories you tell are so beautiful…especially this one.
    My son had seizures so this story is very meaningful to me. Through medication, his seizures are under control now.
    Keep sharing the GOODNESS in this world.

  7. throughmyeyesusa - February 2, 2023 3:52 am

    Our grown son is in a wheelchair and has a pit bull service dog…..with permanent wrinkles from worrying about him. He changed Matt’s life too. Something you didn’t mention, but Matthew always does, is that Jericho not only helps by pulling his wheelchair, opening doors & picking things up but he helped remove Matt’s social anxiety. Before he and Jericho were partners, Matt always felt that people were staring at him; now they’re looking at Jericho, especially fascinated because of his breed. They want to know about all about him & is he friendly. Matthew is happy to visit & even let them pet him to help rehabilitate the image of the breed.

  8. Retta Boyd - February 2, 2023 4:01 am

    Extremely touching…..
    Thank you for sharing

  9. Patrick Wolfe - February 2, 2023 4:07 am

    Reminds me of the book God and Dog by Wendy Francisco. And then there is Clarabelle. Sean you know and Morgan knows, and I too know the love of and for a dog. Joey, my doggie is my best friend. No , he is not trained like Clarabelle, heck, he is not really trained at all. Years ago we were out for our walk. A “walker” approached us, he was on his exercise mission. I sung out good morning to him, there was no reply in kind. His locked eyes must have missed so much. Joey and I walked on and I sung out, good morning Joey. He took his long beautiful nose and nuzzled my hand.

  10. Penny - February 2, 2023 4:16 am

    Clarabelle, thank you! Thank you for your service to Morgan. Thank you to those who trained you. Thank you to those who fostered you as a puppy until you could be trained. Thank you to the teachers and nurses who understand your relationship with Morgan. Thank you for your love and comfort you offer your sweet Morgan!!

  11. Linda Halfpop - February 2, 2023 4:22 am

    Dear God, even the animals obey your voice💔

  12. Warren Allen - February 2, 2023 4:39 am

    Great story. Service dogs are wonderful help for those that need them. More people need to know about how special they are.

  13. Carolyn Allen - February 2, 2023 4:56 am

    I can’t decide who is more awesome, Morgan or Clarabelle. I would say that they are an awesome team! God bless them both!

  14. Melissa Brown - February 2, 2023 5:14 am

    Service dogs are the best. The people that take the time to train these dogs do a fabulous service. I pray that Morgan has a great freshman year at UAB. She is a very brave young lady.

  15. Carmen - February 2, 2023 5:14 am


  16. Floyd Budd Dunson - February 2, 2023 5:36 am

    Ralf isn’t a trained aid dog. He is just a a mixed-breed mutt that we raised. My wife is a severe diabetic. She fell and broke her arm while I wasn’t home Ralf was there and tried to help. Her blood sugar bottomed out once and Ralf was there pawing at her arm and aggravating her until she got up and got something to eat. Ralf has taught me a lot.

  17. Pat Fanning - February 2, 2023 6:18 am

    Absolutely an awesome story of hope!! What a pair! Thank you for sharing, Sean. Thank the Lord for Clarabelle. Thank you, Morgan for living life uniquely and with such a positive spirit!!

    • Scott B Hamil - February 2, 2023 11:05 am

      Service dogs allow you to lead a normal physical and mental life as much as possible and it sounds like Clarabelle is one of the best!

  18. Anthony Wilkins - February 2, 2023 8:47 am

    What a wonderful story! It should touch everyone who reads this post. May there be more Clarabelles in life so more Morgans can live a relatively normal life!

  19. Barbara Smith - February 2, 2023 10:50 am

    That was a beautiful story, Sean.

  20. Gwen - February 2, 2023 11:27 am


  21. mccutchen52 - February 2, 2023 12:40 pm

    Morgan, I think you and Clarabelle make a good pair. Taking care of each other.

  22. Maria - February 2, 2023 1:38 pm

    What’s beautiful story. We all need a Clarabelle.

  23. Mr. Bill - February 2, 2023 1:47 pm

    What a wonderful story!
    “Welcome to UAB and The Blazer Family, Morgan & Clarabelle!”

  24. Sean of the South: Good Dog | The Trussville Tribune - February 2, 2023 2:20 pm

    […] By: Crystal McGoughon: February 02, 2023In: Lifestyle Print Email By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South Commentary She has long red hair. Fair complexion. A high-school senior. […]

  25. Tom - February 2, 2023 2:39 pm

    So God made a dog!! How can you not love’m.

  26. Helen - February 2, 2023 2:43 pm

    So thankful for trained service dogs. A treasure fir sure!

  27. Tracy - February 2, 2023 2:47 pm

    Just beautiful! God bless a dog!

  28. Stacey Edwards - February 2, 2023 2:47 pm

    Dogs are amazing saviors!! Have a blast at college Morgan and Clarabelle!💖

  29. Jane Lemley - February 2, 2023 3:03 pm

    What a great story, Sean! Clara Elle is a hero!

  30. Ann Davis - February 2, 2023 3:44 pm

    Such a beautiful story – dogs are already wonderful and love unconditionally – but this is exceptional.

  31. Dennis - February 2, 2023 3:46 pm

    We have a 16 year old Westie. His hips hurt and he can’t hear or see as well as he once did. He can still read us down to the microsecond. He has traveled overseas with us, run the shores of Smith Lake with us, and protected us while recovering from hip replacement surgery. He is the smartest dog I’ve ever seen and I’ve had a Border Collie before. Sean, thanks for your dog stories and how much they matter in our lives.

  32. rdo333 - February 2, 2023 3:55 pm

    Fantastic story thank you

  33. Peggy M. Windham - February 2, 2023 4:28 pm

    I’m so grateful for service dogs for people like Morgan. They are gifts from God! I wish people appreciated and respected all digs more! 🙏💜

  34. sjhl7 - February 2, 2023 4:30 pm

    Beautiful story of loyalty and worth! Thank you, Lord, for service dogs!

  35. DiAn - February 2, 2023 4:40 pm

    WOW! Thank you for explaining how Many things her ‘Service/Servant Canine’ performs! I had no idea. This is marvelous. What a Team! Our Heroes.

  36. johnwilberswetnamgmailcom - February 2, 2023 4:42 pm

    I’m here to ask if you can add a way for us to increase the size of the type in your daily gifts to us. I’m slowly loosing my eyesight and and the size type your stories are in is getting really hard to read. Thanks, John

    • MDaigle - February 2, 2023 7:21 pm

      johnwilberswetnamgmailcom If you look at the top of your browser window in the address, for example: you should see a magnifying glass symbol just to the right of the address. This will let you magnify the font size of the text is Sean’s posts. In Google Chrome there are 3 dots at the top right you can click on to set the default zoom. Some browsers even have a button that will read the article to you.

  37. Linda Moon - February 2, 2023 4:59 pm

    New posts from Sean of the South have not been coming into my email inbox for a few days. I’ll read Good Dog later if someone (an actual human) has suggestions for how to fix this!

  38. Martha Corfman - February 2, 2023 5:21 pm

    God bless Clarabelle and Morgan!

    Thank you, Sean, for sharing their story.

  39. nicole lynn - February 2, 2023 5:49 pm

    Dogs are so special! so are you Morgan❤️ You are as amazing as Clarabelle!

  40. Mize Rosemary - February 2, 2023 6:14 pm

    Thank you for such a positive story!

  41. Linda Moon - February 2, 2023 6:17 pm

    Locust Fork, Alabama! I’ve been there many times for trips up to Sand Mountain….beautiful. I love it when hospital people love us, so thank you for telling us. Now I feel like I have two new friends…Morgan and Clarabelle!

  42. Ann Syfert - February 2, 2023 6:43 pm

    Linda Moon…. I unsubcribed and then resubscribed. That seems to have worked. Hope this helps.

  43. Mike Sellers - February 2, 2023 7:06 pm


  44. Patricia Taylor - February 2, 2023 7:06 pm

    How wonderful….what a blessing to have Clarabelle! Animals are so caring…I have a cat that I rescued and recently had surgery…as soon a I got in the bed at home later that day, Miss Kitty came and got on the bed with me, looking at me with caring eyes and refused to leave me for three hours. I’m her Mama and she lets me know it. She babied me around every day until I was able to to be back up. They are so faithful…I hold her every day and sing to her…Jesus Loves Me is her favorite song. I rescued her and she tries to rescue me too…Prayers for Morgan as she goes to college and thank God for Clarabelle…

  45. Dell A. Corley - February 2, 2023 9:03 pm

    I contribute to service dogs of Alabama on a yearly basis through my job. I am so glad to read this article, I knew it would help people and I am so proud that Morgan and Clarabelle are going to College!!!!

  46. George Robert Leach - February 2, 2023 9:29 pm

    This is an extremely important essay. So many humans are in this situation and no one knows or helps. Codilling the handicapable is a great problem. Knew a deaf blind child who was starved physically, mentally and affectionately. She was 12 and weighed 43 lbs. Many others were never cared for properly. It is tradgic. Will you write about all of them?

    Love this, Robert

  47. Jerry Pritchett - February 2, 2023 10:57 pm

    My daughter gave me your most recent book for my birthday! Loved it! jp Proverbs 3:5-6

  48. pattymack43 - February 3, 2023 2:14 am


  49. Buddy Caudill - February 3, 2023 2:32 am

    You go, Morgan !

  50. MAM - February 3, 2023 2:45 am

    As many previously have pointed out, Dog is God spelled backward. Dogs are very trainable (most of them, I’ve know a few that weren’t), and can help. May God bless those who train the dogs, like Clarabelle, to help people like Morgan.

  51. B A Beckett - February 3, 2023 3:57 am

    This is so touching. A wonderful story. But I loved the part about spending years learning about the cosine. Wonder how many people let that slip by?

  52. Susie - February 3, 2023 5:35 am

    Black labs raised me. They are wonderful, smart, sweet loving companions and are #1 in the most-wanted pets category.

  53. Durand - February 3, 2023 12:04 pm

    Morgan, how lucky you Abdul Clarabelle are to have each other. 👧🏼🐕‍🦺❤️

    • Durand - February 3, 2023 12:05 pm


  54. Arminee - February 3, 2023 11:28 pm

    The story of Morgan and Clarabelle brought tears to my eyes. Clarabelle has brought love and independence to Morgan and has given her a life. What a wonderful relationship they have.

  55. conkledavid - February 5, 2023 5:28 am

    If people were like dogs we’d all be a lot better off .

  56. Krista - February 7, 2023 12:02 am

    I miss my service dog. He was a yellow lab named Miner. <3

  57. tammymoody - February 8, 2023 5:06 pm

    Great job Sean! Thanks for sharing your strength Morgan! When I am alone and in pain tonight, I will remember you! My dog Lucy isn’t big enough to help me up, but she knows when I’m in pain and she can’t go to sleep until I go to bed and try to go to sleep myself. I’m so excited for you Morgan! College is going to be amazing! Those other students will be blessed to know you!! Good luck to you both! ♥


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