GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - A Forest Hills teen whose first service dog died suddenly from cancer is gaining his independence with help from a new dog.
Nick Ackerman, 18, is a senior at Forest Hills Central. He and his service dog Troy take the bus to school every day.
Nick was born with TAR syndrome, a condition that affects the long bones in the body. Troy will be carrying Nick's backpack and everything he needs for school. He's also been trained to pick up Nick, should he fall over. Troy has been learning his job well.
Nick has already bonded with Troy. Late last year, we told you about Nick and his first service dog Nico. Nico had been on the job with Nick for about a week when the young Dutch shepherd was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Nico was euthanized the next day.
"We could see he was in pain," Nick said. "I didn't want to see him like that. It sucked."
It's now been about three months since Nick got Troy. So far, it's a good match. Troy has a clean bill of health, and Nick is gaining his independence. Nick will be heading to Eastern Michigan University in the fall. His parents won't be there to help him, but Troy will.
"And besides," says Nick, "girls love dogs."
Nick's mom sent us a photo Tuesday of Nick and Troy asking a girl and her service dog to the prom. The girl, Delaney Johnson, and her service dog Griffen, are from Lansing, and they met during the training process. She said yes, and they will be going to prom at Forest Hills Central next month.