Nick Ackerman stepped outside into the cold Michigan winter and slipped on the ice. He wasn’t hurt, but because of a congenital condition which left him without much of his arms, he wasn’t able to right himself. Fortunately for Nick, his service dog Troy was by his side.
Nick takes pride in being able to do things for himself despite having TAR syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.
“It’s very important to me to be independent,” Nick says. “I don’t want to rely too much on people.” But dogs? That’s another matter entirely.
Reluctant to give up what he viewed as his self-reliance, Nick admits to initially resisting the relationship with Troy, a one year-old German Shepherd. But after slipping on the ice and finding himself unable to get up on his own, he quickly reevaluated his relationship with Troy.
When Nick grabbed Troy’s leash and the pup pulled Nick to his feet, their friendship truly began.
Now when Nick begins to attend Eastern Michigan University in the fall, he knows that with Troy he’ll finally have the independence he craves, and in more ways than one.
“The best thing about him is people stare at the dog, not me,” Nick says. People don’t ask him about his hands or arms, instead complementing Troy, saying, “You have a beautiful dog.”
Troy has a unique set of skills, which includes being able to zip up a zipper—something Nick would not be able to do on his own—but like any dog, his greatest skill is forming a bond with the human in his life.