Puppy Love Helps Young Boy

ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Four-year-old Ian Swanson has muscular dystrophy, a disease that severely limits his movement. However, his family says when you bring a dog in the room, magic happens, and Ian moves a little easier.

"He'd push himself harder. He'd stand up and pull his little walker and take more steps than normal," Susan Swanson, Ian's mother, said. "He would fatigue, but he'd try really, really hard, so we knew as we approached his birthday that we needed to get him a dog."

A year ago the Swansons went to the Ashland Petland hoping to get an idea of what type of dog would be good for Ian, but the one he liked best, a yorky poo, was out of their price range.

"She said that dog is $999," Swanson said. "She may as well have said a million."

The family left Petland without a pet but with much appreciation after having met a very helpful employee.

Susan Swanson sent a gracious letter to Petland's corporate headquarters. They shared the letter with the owner of the Ashland store, Dwight Burke, whose own son is in a wheelchair.

Burke was so touched by Ian's story, he decided to give him a birthday present.

"We just called them up and said, 'Ian needs this puppy. Come and get him,'" Burke said.

On top of that generous gift, he also paid for veterinary expenses.

"A special needs kid had a special need and we were able to fill it," Burke said. "The bottom line, it's important I guess, but it's not the most important thing. The most important thing is to make an impact and try and make somebody's life better and more enjoyable."

One year later Ian's mom says Zeke the dog has helped Ian develop tremendously, proving an old saying true. This dog really is boy's best friend.

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