Boy Battling Leukemia Gets New Specially Trained Dog - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Boy Battling Leukemia Gets New Specially Trained Dog

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by Emily Luxen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A Shelbyville boy battling Leukemia has a new best friend courtesy of some strangers from hundreds of miles away.

A specially trained dog arrived from Marion County, Ohio Friday, and was introduced to Mark Kelly Olson at the Monroe Carrell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

"It was a big surprise," said Mark Kelly Olson. "I didn't think he would get here for another month or so."

Mark Kelly found the dog he named "Striker" online, and wanted to adopt him.  His family determined the 7 month old mutt needed some training first.

Sgt. Darick Starcher, and the inmates at the North Central Correctional Complex in Marion, Ohio took care of the work through their dog training program.  All work was done free of charge, and the training was customized so Striker will protect Mark Kelly.

"If you're walking with him and you fall down, he will check on you, or bark until someone comes to see you are ok," said Sgt. Starcher.

Striker will also sit, roll over, and most importantly, provide companionship for Mark Kelly.  The dog is already affectionately known as Mark Kelly's "battle buddy."

"This will be someone who can really be here for him," said Rosie Olson, Mark Kelly's mom.  "He spends so much time at the hospital away from his friends.  I think they will be a perfect match."

Mark Kelly was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocyctic Leukemia on April 12, 2012.  Since then, he has been subjected to several rounds of aggressive treatment, surgeries, and fought off various infections. 

"For the most part he has a good attitude," said Rosie Olson. "Sometimes he says ‘I don't know if I can do this anymore.'  We tell him, yes you can."

Rosie and the rest of the family know adding Striker to their family will help lift Mark Kelly's spirits as he gears up for another round of chemotherapy.

"It's really sweet.  They will be instant friends," said Rosie Olson.

You can follow Mark Kelly's battle against Leukemia on his Facebook page.

Email: ccannon@newschannel5.com
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