Man Tirelessly Searches For Lost Therapy Dog That Saved Him From A Past Trauma

A service dog is more than just an animal you purchase to help you complete daily tasks or get through life’s struggles. They become an extension of yourself and your family. Sometimes they can even treat an illness better than any medicine.

After a traumatic event, one man from California searched the local shelters in hopes of finding himself an emotional support dog. If he could just find the one that could mend his broken bones, everything would be alright… but unfortunately, his problems were just beginning.

Justin Scott, from Santa Clarita, California, had a tough job. As an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), he’d experienced a lot of amazing moments, but also instances of immense pain. Luckily, he didn’t have to face the tough moments alone.

For starters, his wife Sara was also an EMT. Together, they shared the same desire to help people and make a difference in their community. It’s a no-brainer that they gravitated towards each other. 

One day while on duty, Justin and his crew responded to a standard 911 emergency. Except there was something very different about this call. Justin knew the person in crisis… 

It was one of his best friends. Despite their best efforts, Justin and the fellow EMTs were unable to save him — they simply ran out of options. The guilt crushed Justin and affected him in a way that he didn’t think was possible. 

The tragic event left Justin depressed and struggling to cope with the failure that cost his friend his life. Darkness consumed him, but not before he recognized that he needed help. It was time to make a change.

Sara and Justin thought an emotional support dog could help the healing process. Justin shared in a Facebook post, “We waited until we found the perfect dog for us.”

Atlanta Dog Training

As they scanned rows of dogs, they noticed this short-legged, pointy-eared dog named Shelby gazing back at them. The moment they looked into her eyes, it was a done deal. Shelby was officially a part of the Scott family. 

Sara Adcock / Facebook

 “I looked at her still in the shelter parking lot,” Justin recalled of the day they met, “and told her, ‘I saved you, and now I need you to save me,’ and she did. She pulled me out of the grips of hell.”

To Justin, the dog was his guiding light and best friend. They did everything together, so it’s no surprise that the dog also accompanied Justin, Sara, and their two boys on family vacations.

Sara Adcock / Facebook

They packed up the car and traveled six hours for a Fourth of July camping trip in the Sierra Mountains. It was supposed to be a fun-filled weekend, but not long after arriving, Justin’s worst nightmare became a reality.

Donita Delmont

For an unknown reason, Shelby became spooked. slipped out of her collar, and ran to the tree line for protection. Justin knew these woods; they were harsh and deadly. He needed to find her. He couldn’t fail another best friend.

My Mammoth

After searching the immediate area, they needed to call off the mission as nighttime fell upon them. That didn’t mean they were giving up, though. They set out food traps overnight, but Shelby didn’t come back.

But a number of bears did pay a visit to the campsite that night. Justin feared that Shelby would be no match against such merciless wild animals. He would save her, though, he thought, because she had saved him.

Sara Adcock / Facebook

Shelby was missing for 13 days and Justin had not a single lead as to where she was. He didn’t even know if she was alive. The Scott family reached out to a nonprofit, A Way Home For Animals, for help.

He connected with Babs Fry, founder of the nonprofit, and explained what had happened. Determined to reunite Justin and Shelby, Babs got in the car and drove to meet up with the Scotts.

They began with initial attempts of connecting with the town and surrounding communities to determine when and where Shelby was last seen. They posted signs, spoke with the camp host and general store owner, and made it clear who to contact if Shelby were to turn up.

Justin expressed his torment in a message on Facebook: “Shelby, you sat by my side and laid in my lap until I could stand on my own. We will get you back; we will never give up on you. I saved you once, and we will save you again.”

Twenty-four hours later, they finally received a tip. Shelby was spotted about 3.5 miles south of the campsite. Babs immediately carried out a survey of the area to locate possible food, water, and shelter spots that Shelby might be hanging around.

Babs also set out five traps with the hopes of enticing Shelby out of the woods. They waited for days hoping that Shelby would show up, but she never did. Days turned into weeks, and Justin’s faith began to break.

Finally, another call came in. Someone saw Shelby in a nearby area. Babs rushed to the location and set out the traps once more. She was determined to reunite Justin and Shelby. After 45 minutes, something amazing happened.

Babs Fry / Facebook

Shelby walked right into the trap! Upon initial inspection, Shelby appeared to be in good health — other than being a little dirty. Babs was thrilled to deliver Justin some good news for once.

On reunion day, a hesitant Shelby stood in front of the family, almost as if she couldn’t believe it was really them. But like the flip of a switch, all of the sudden her stumpy tail began to wiggle and she showered them with kisses.

Justin Scott / Facebook

Deep down, Shelby knew her family didn’t abandon her as she laid in Justin’s lap, gazing up at him with unconditional love. It was the longest 28 days of Justin’s life, but he couldn’t have been more grateful to have his family member back.

Justin Scott / Facebook
Anyone who owns a dog can tell you there are few greater feelings in the world than earning a few of their sloppy kisses or gentle nuzzles. Yet dogs can offer so much more than comfort and love, and that is especially true for service dogs like Shelby. Just ask this little girl…

To say life was unfair to 11-year-old Bella Burton of Woburn, Massachusetts, would be an understatement. Diagnosed with Morquio syndrome, Bella was forced to walk on crutches or use a wheelchair to get around.

The syndrome made it impossible for Bella to process certain sugar molecules that acted as lubricants or shock absorbers in her body. As a result, she had decreased mobility and a slew of other nasty symptoms. It affected her mood, too…

Boston Children’s Hospital

“I’m just like, ‘I don’t want this anymore,'” Bella told BarkPost. She couldn’t ride a bike; she couldn’t run. She couldn’t play the way that other kids her age did. Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of Bella’s heartbreaking situation.

Since Morquio syndrome was a progressive disease, it would only get worse as time went by; it was safe to say that Bella wasn’t getting better anytime soon. But then, mercifully, her fortune started to change…

“We had volunteered up at Service Dog Project for a little over a year,” Bella’s mother, Rachel, said. And that was where Bella first met an unlikely pal: a 130-pound Great Dane named George.

Steve and KAte’s Camp / YouTube

“One day Bella climbed up with George,” added Megan Korkaras, a trainer at Service Dog Project. “And the next thing you know, his head was in her lap, and he was just looking up at her like she was the best thing in the whole world.”

BARK / YouTube

Evidently, Bella noticed George’s affection, too. “I could tell he needed me,” Bella said. “And I needed him.” Delighted, the Burton family brought George home for the weekend to test the waters. Soon enough, he became Bella’s full-time service dog—with unbelievable results.

BARK / YouTube

With George, Bella only needed one crutch because the Great Dane himself served as the other! “I lean on him,” Bella explained. “He helps me walk. If I fall, I tell him ‘Brace!’ which means he will stand and won’t even budge, and I can pull myself up.”

BARK / YouTube

This feat wasn’t just visually impressive; it also strengthened Bella’s legs. The service dog even accompanied her to weekly enzyme replacement therapy. Rachel, of course, was delighted at the effect George’s presence was having on her daughter.

“We never thought she would be off crutches,” Rachel said. “And now she will go in the yard and play, even without George. To see how much stronger she’s gotten is awesome.” For Bella, there were no words to describe her feelings to George—but she tried.

People

“He’s always there for me,” she said. “And whenever I’m feeling sad or something, he’s always there. He knows, he just kind of comes over and leans over me… I pretty much love everything about him.”

TODAY

The unlikely duo never left each others’ sides. Even at school, George knew where all of Bella’s classes were and took naps in the back of the room while she sat at her desk! It was easy to see how this fundamentally changed the little girl…

“Bella was never really shy, but [George has] given her more confidence,” Rachel told People magazine. “She feels she fits in better with her peers than when she was on crutches or a wheelchair. She feels more confident about herself.” Naturally, Bella wanted to show her appreciation for her beloved pal.

So, her heart bursting with appreciation for her 130-pound savior, Bella entered George into BarkPost’s “Dog’s Best Day” contest. “George deserves this day,” Bella said, “because he works extremely hard.” But did this big lug stand a chance to win?

 

You betcha! After dubbing him the winner, the online publication rewarded George for his life-changing dedication to Bella. Their celebration of the Great Dane started at an unusual place, too: a burger joint!

BARK / YouTube

“George does not get to have people food because he is a service dog,” Bella said. But on his best day ever, all rules were waived—he got a tray of burgers all to himself! The best part? George’s best day ever was only just beginning!

BARK / YouTube

Next, organizers for George’s best day shut down an entire mountain for him and Bella. Being a playful pup, George went completely nuts, sprinting around in the snow like a madman and skipping beside Bella’s sled. It was hard to believe his day could get better…

BARK / YouTube

Bella and George then visited the canine equivalent of a candy store where George munched on treats and chewed on a bone so large there was no chance it ever belonged to an actual animal. The Great Dane was living a well-earned dream.

BARK / YouTube

“George is joyful,” Bella said of her dog. “And he’s always happy, and he’s always there to cheer you up.” Then, with all the confidence in the world, she added, “George is my best friend.”

BARK / YouTube

This Great Dane gave hope to a little girl who was struggling to enjoy the world around her because of her condition. He even helped make her stronger—both inside and out! Just watch Bella and George’s incredible friendship for yourself…

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