Bella Burton 11-year-old, in fifth grade, was born with a rare genetic condition that leads to organ damage and abnormal bone development which cause difficult movement resulting in limited mobility. The little girl from Woburn, Massachusetts. was diagnosed with Morquio Syndrome when she was 2 years old. Morquio is a rare inherited disease that affects major organ systems in the body. Bella, at a very young age, had undergone several surgeries to help improve her condition, but she couldn’t walk independently. She could only move with the aid of crutches or a wheelchair.
Bella and her mom, Rachel, visited the Service Dog Project to find a companion for Bella. She met George, a Great Dane who worked as a service trained dog. Ever since George came to Bella’s life, something amazing has changed. She has become “so much stronger and active,” her mom, Rachel Burton, told Home News. Bella uses George, who is three times her size, as crutches. They go everywhere together. George helps Bella, walk to school, go to the gym and enjoy activities.
Bella said, “Some people come up and ask if they can pet him and play with him, they think he’s a therapy dog. I say, ‘No. You can’t pet him. He’s a working service dog”. She also went on to explain, “I had wheelchairs, walkers, Canadian crutches, regular crutches and then we got George and I dropped my crutches and started to use him,”
George and Bella enjoy a very unique bond. The Great Dane is more than a service dog, he is Bella’s support and bestfriend. Thanks to him Bella enjoys a level of independence and confidence.
George will be honored with the Award for Canine Excellence at a ceremony in December by the American Kennel Club (AKC).