An 11-year-old girl named Bella Burton was finally able to take her first steps in nearly a decade with the help of her Great Dane. Bella, who lives in Woburn, Massachusetts, was born with Morquio Syndrome, a rare condition that restricts bone growth and hinders mobility. Despite multiple surgeries and physical therapies, walking without crutches or a wheelchair remained a challenge for her. Nonetheless, her trusty canine companion provided the support she needed to take those first steps again.
Thanks to the assistance of her devoted service dog, George, a large Great Dane weighing 130 pounds, this young girl can now stroll around independently.
George, a Great Dane trained at the Service Dog Project in Ipswich, Massachusetts, is as tall as Bella but weighs three times her weight. The SDP has generously donated around 100 Great Danes as service dogs to individuals who have significant difficulties with balance and movement. These dogs perform a crucial service that has significantly improved the quality of life for their owners. Service dogs are matched with a variety of people, including young children, military veterans, those with Multiple Sclerosis, Friedreich’s Ataxia, and more. Each dog undergoes comprehensive training for balance, but once they are partnered with an applicant, the dog receives specific training to meet their unique needs. In Bella’s case, George was initially introduced to her last year and has greatly enhanced her mobility and morale, surpassing the results of any other therapy she has tried.
Marquio Syndrome is a rare metabolic disorder that affects a mere 3000 individuals across the world. This hereditary condition causes damage to internal organs, improper bone formation, and results in dwarfism. Bella, who suffers from this condition, shared her experience with WCVB and mentioned how she used to rely on various mobility aids like wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches. However, since acquiring George, her Great Dane, Bella has been able to ditch her crutches and move around comfortably while leaning on him. George has become Bella’s trusted companion, helping her navigate through school corridors and climb up and down stairs.
When asked about her companion, Bella responded confidently that he is well-informed about her schedule and whereabouts. She even mentioned that while she attends classes, he takes a well-deserved nap. Bella lovingly refers to him as her crutch, saying that he aids her in walking and standing upright. In moments of distress, all she has to say is “Brace!” and he will provide unwavering support, allowing her to regain her footing. Bella expressed her gratitude towards him during an interview with Fox News.
Bella can now fully enjoy an active life that includes running around on the playground and going on bike rides, thanks to George who has become an integral part of her family. George even accompanies Bella to the gym and outdoor playtime with her friends, ensuring her safety and protection by sleeping next to her at night. Their endearing story has captured the hearts of people worldwide, with many following their progress on their Facebook page. George’s contributions to Bella’s well-being and happiness have earned him an Award for Canine Excellence from the American Kennel Club, alongside four other dogs who have made a significant impact in their owners’ lives and communities. To Bella, George is more than just a support system; he has become her best friend as well.