Family receives four-legged source of strength for son

Organization provided Lodi family with special companion

Over the rainy weekend, some sunshine came for a Lodi family, who learned just how much a new friendship can change a life.

A rare gift is bringing out smiles from their son, who is suffering from a debilitating disease.

12-year-old Justin Gorton has muscular dystrophy, an illness that continues to wear on his body as he gets older.

“Options are fairly limited,” said John Gorton, Justin’s dad. “This is a fairly serious disease where you will lose the ability to walk.”

“The reality is that we can’t change that,” concurred Julia Edwards, Justin’s mom. “We just accept it and do the best we can given his capabilities at this time.”

So Justin gets his strength from his family, his wheelchair, and a new four-legged friend, named Elvis.

“Instead of seeing just a boy in a wheelchair, they see a boy in a wheelchair with a really cool dog,” smiled John Gorton on the neighborhood’s reaction to his son’s new companion.

Part golden retriever, part poodle, and all smiles, Elvis joined the family in July.

“He loved us immediately, which was very charming,” said Julia Edwards.

Not content to get by on his looks, Elvis knows a whopping 300 different commands, which is not only impressive, but helps to give Justin a bit more independence.

Justin’s family received Elvis from a national program called Canine Assistance.

The family was on a waiting list because the demand for these dogs is so high.

The organization matches the puppies and potential owners by personality, then the two sides take some training classes together before the dogs are allowed to move into their new homes.

Family receives four-legged source of strength for son

Elvis has certainly been a source of help and hugs since joining Justin’s family.

As his dad said, Elvis has been “the best thing” for Justin.

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