• Kyodo

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A 13-year-old disabled boy started junior high school here Thursday with a helper dog trained to aid those with only upper-body mobility.

Takamasa Wada, who uses a wheelchair, is the second youngster in an elementary or junior high school to use such a dog.

The first was Kumiko Inazumi of Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, who attended school with a helper dog for about five months beginning last September before the canine died of an illness, according to the Japan Partner Dogs Association, which also trained Wada’s dog.

“Being together with him makes me feel happy and secure,” Wada said after arriving at Hibitsu Junior High School in Nakamura Ward with Griff, a Labrador retriever. “I’d like to ride on the subway in the days ahead.”

Wada became paralyzed from the waist down soon after birth. After learning about helper dogs, Wada’s father entered the family pet in a training program.

Griff entered the training program in June 2000, and Wada’s school began making preparations, such as checking for dog-related allergies and installing air filters.

According to the association, located in Kaminoyama, Yamagata Prefecture, a little more than 20 helper dogs are in service nationwide.

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