A New Leash on Life: 4-year-old South Carolina boy on autism spectrum paired with local service dog

Posted at 6:35 PM, Sep 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-23 19:40:04-04

A local organization is giving a family a reason to smile. 

Tyler McFadden and his family made the trip from South Carolina this week to pick up their brand new dog Cookie, hoping the four-legged friend changes his life forever.
For the family, it's a special moment representing a new leash on life. 
“So far, it's looking like its off to a great start,” Tyler’s mom Kimberly says.  
We introduced you to them in March, when the two first met. 
Tyler and his family traveled from South Carolina to Palm City, and 'Canines for Hope'. 
The organization provides service animals to people with disabilities. 
Tyler is on the autism spectrum, and tends to wonder away. 
The family raised money to help purchase Cookie, who will serve not only as Tyler's friend - but also his protector - as the two will literally be joined at the hip. 
“He might reach for a dollar that's on the side of the street in oncoming traffic and Cookie is going to hopefully deter him from reacting that way,” Devito says.
Since March, Cookie has been training at Canines for Hope.
Friday, it was his new family's turn, as they bonded with Cookie and learned the techniques necessary to raise him.
The family has been training with him all week - training that is already paying off in just a few short days. 
“The other day we had a thunderstorm, and usually at home when there thunderstorms Tyler melts down and is so upset,” Kimberly says. “We just put Cookie over by him and he just calmed down.” 
A new protector, comforter and friend - one the McFadden's hope will be around for a long time. 
“We can't wait to see their bond just get tighter and tighter,” Kimberly says.  
For more on Canines for Hope, click here