TODAY | December 11, 2012
>>> huge difference in the life of a person with a disability. what if that dog is the one with the disability? joining us with the story of one puppy and his journey. good morning, gabe.
>> reporter: good morning, matt. he has inspired so many people at this nonprofit. from birth, puppies here have a purpose.
>> such extraordinary creatures.
>> reporter: as they grow up at canine assistance center, they become highly trained service dogs .
>> it's magic.
>> reporter: paired with people overcoming disabilities. but this is a story of what happened when one of those helpers needed help.
>> what we think happened was the umbilical cord wrapped around his foot.
>> reporter: perelli , after the tire company, because they say he needed a retread.
>> you could see in perelli something very special.
>> reporter: jennifer arnold founded the nonprofit more than 20 years ago, taught more than 1,000 dogs, but this one was different.
>> the first thing that went through my mind, oh, my goodness, what are we going to do with this little guy?
>> reporter: the answer came quickly. perelli would be called to a different type of service, traveling to schools, promoting a message of acceptance and overcoming obstacles. nbc affiliate wxia started tracking his journey. the response was overwhelming. donations flooded in for a prosthetic foot.
>> it will give him a whole new lease on life.
>> reporter: turns out the first was not bad, but not perfect. the experts at hangar clinic stepped in. the company specializes in state-of-the-art prosthetics for people, their work inspired the recent film "dolphin tale."
>> working with animals, they inspire.
>> reporter: fitted with a blastic prototype. he will have a carbon foot, similar to those worn by olympic sprinter oscar pistori. a purpose, teaching not just kids but adults.
>> it doesn't matter what your body looks like or how it functions. that's irrelevant. what makes you important as a person is what you are on the inside.
>> reporter: again, he is set to get the carbon fiber version of this prosthetic very soon and his handlers are trying to develop his sense of smell to see and determine whether he can contribute to research in the future about whether dogs can detect diseases in humans. matt?
>> he has contributed to our show already this morning, gabe. thank you very much. we appreciate it.