How This Great Dane Has Helped His 13-Year-Old Owner Learn to Walk Without Crutches

George, the 4-year-old Great Dane, has not only given Bella her mobility back but has become a trusted companion.

Thirteen-year-old Bella Burton from Massachusetts can now walk without crutches because of her dog.

Bella was born with Morquio syndrome, a rare genetic condition where a person’s muscles progressively waste away. There are also many other painful health issues associated with the condition, and it has no cure.

“A lot of kids by 13 with Morquio are confined to wheelchairs already.” Bella’s mother, Rachel Burton, explains.

But Bella is riding a bike and learning to swim all because of George.

George is a 4-year-old Great Dane who has not only given Bella her mobility back but has become a trusted companion.

“He’s very protective. Even if we’re playing, he’ll always watch me because he doesn’t want anything to happen,” Bella said. “I knew I was safe, no matter what.”

She adds, “I’m positive that people don’t bump into me when I have George, ‘cause if they bumped into me, I could fall, and then I could get hurt. And that’s not fun.”

Before George, Bella’s leg muscles were quickly deteriorating, but her family says that her legs were strong enough to hold her own weight after six months with him.

And according to Rachel, Bella can now even walk around without George.

“She can walk up and down our stairs without a lot of help, where three years ago, these were things she could not do.”

“George retrained me to walk,” Bella adds. “I wasn’t going to give up, and he knew that, so he helped me make sure I wasn’t going to.”

It’s not all hard work for these two; sometimes, Bella and George simply cuddle on the couch.

“When he’s working, he’s always focused on his job,” Bella points out. “But then, as soon as you take off his vest, he runs around, and he plays a lot, but after like an hour, he lays down and goes to sleep.”

“Everyone thinks Great Danes are really energetic because they’re big, but honestly, they’re couch potatoes.”

Because of his work with Bella, George won the American Kennel Club’s Award for Canine Excellence.

For more on Bella and George’s story, as well as other working dogs and their human companions, tune in to ‘Dogs with Extraordinary Jobs’ on The Smithsonian Channel.

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