Service dog gives a helping paw to boy with cerebral palsy

Posted at 10:29 PM, Oct 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-16 22:30:21-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A golden retriever is quickly bonding with a young boy from Grand Rapids. Their friendship is helping Daniel Diffenderfer overcome shortcomings from cerebral palsy.

His new dog , Tip, is 10 months old and is in training to become a service dog for Daniel. He will help him pick up items and even open doors.

“We love him. He is such a good dog," said Katie Diffenderfer, Daniel’s mom. "My whole family just absolutely adores him."

Tip resides at the Diffendefer home and trains several times a week at A Pleasant Dog in Grand Rapids.

“We’re really proud of him," said Jenn Gavin, towner of A Pleasant Dog. "He’s only 10 months old, but he’s really excelling at task training. And he’s had a great bond with Daniel since he was eight weeks old."

Tip learns tasks through positive reinforcement. "We use rewards, and we use things the dog enjoys," said Sara Crockett, a service dog trainer. "And we pair that with the behavior, and we move slowly towards the desired behavior."

Tip still has about another eight months to finish his service dog training.