Boy with special needs, abused dog get 2nd chance together

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A newfound friendship between a 6-year-old Lansing boy and a 3-year-old dog from Kalamazoo is proving to be a second chance for both.

Ice is a purebred American Bulldog who was found abused and abandoned on the streets of Kalamazoo in September.

“She had a weighted chain around her neck that she had clearly broken off. Open sores all over her body some with larvae growing in them. Her ears were almost completely ripped off. She had bite marks on her face and duct tape residue around her muzzle. So, clearly Ice had been used as a bait dog in a fighting ring in Kalamazoo,” said Hilary Spala, one of the volunteers with Kalamazoo Animal Rescue.

A trainer in Lansing heard about Ice, and knew the perfect family to adopt her. Kristy Grimes was looking for a service dog for her 6-year-old son, William.

“He struggles a lot. He has a sensory processing disorder, anxiety, (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and all of that just causes his anxiety levels to be super high,” Grimes explained.

The sensory issues mean William doesn’t like to be touched, even to get a haircut, or be too far away from his parents.

“He is often scared to leave the house. He doesn’t play with other kids on the playground because he is scared they are going to talk to him,” his mom said.

The financial burden of training a dog kept the family from starting the process sooner, but Grimes decided they should not wait any longer. The trainer told them about Ice, and they immediately fell in love.

“She came up and knocked him on the ground, licked his face and he said ‘yup! I like her! Let’s take her home,” Grimes said.

Ice recently started her yearlong training to officially become a service dog. The long-term goal is for Ice to support William in everything he does.

“When William starts to get nervous, he will pat his leg or pat a wall or start squawking. Ice will (learn to) start nudging him and be like ‘pet me, focus on me,” Grimes said.  

Ice will also learn how to protect William from people he is not comfortable with. His mom says she is cautiously optimistic about the training timeframe for when she will start to see significant improvements.

“There are days when William can’t go upstairs to go to the bathroom because he has anxiety about being that far away from us, so if the dog can even help that much, that would be wonderful,” she said.

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