Teen in need gets new dog

Aaron Krause • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:16 PM

Since June 1, James Griggs has been asking his mother several times a day when he'd receive the e-mail introducing him to his new dog.

James, 17, and his parents were just told it's a black Labrador retriever named Takoda, who is almost 1. At James' insistence, his name will be changed to Runner.

"He is so excited it is not even funny," said his mother, Becky.

James, a dog lover and former owner, is excited for obvious reasons. But, the canine whose name will soon change will do much more for James than provide companionship.

The Norwalk teenager is afflicted with autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Takoda, a service dog, will help seek to help James become more independent, calm him when his autism overwhelms him and help locate James if he wanders off.

The Griggs family is receiving Takoda courtesy of 4 Paws for Ability, a non-profit agency placing mobility, hearing, seizure, autism and emotional assistance dogs with disability-afflicted people.

The Griggs will attend a 12-day training class, during which they'll learn how to care for the dog, how to handle him in public, verbal and hand cues and how to track with Takoda.

James' dog will know verbal and hand commands, so that when the teenager starts to become overwhelmed, the canine will have set tasks to assist in calming him down.

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