Searching for Bella: Dog missing that helped boy with seizures

BATTLE GROUND, Wash. - At first, this sounds like your typical "lost dog" story: Last Friday night a dog named Bella managed to get out of a backyard through an unlocked gate and ran off into the neighborhood.

But Bella isn't a typical dog. Rather, the one-year-old boxer is being trained to detect seizures in a disabled two-year-old boy named Aiden Ward.

Ward suffers from an incredibly rare progressive neurological disorder called Ohtahara syndrome. The condition causes Aiden to have seizures, which can hamper his development.

Bella was being trained to help detect the seizures early on, alert Aiden's parents then stay with the boy to comfort him.

"She'll lay right next to him. While she's down there he'll actually reach up and touch her and pet her," said Aiden's mother Shandi Ward.

Aiden, Shandi and the rest of the Ward family haven't seen Bella since she ran away on Friday.

Shandi has called veterinarians, animal shelters and flooded social media pages with pleas to return the dog. She hasn't had any luck.

The Wards hope that someone simply picked up the dog and doesn't realize how important she is to their family. They hope that by getting the word out through the news the dog will be returned.

"I believe somebody probably has her and hasn't returned her," Shandi said. "I don't know if she still has her tags on or not. So we're hoping to get the word out there if somebody maybe notices their neighbor has a new pet or sees her out."

Shandi said in addition to helping Aiden, Bella also helps his three big sisters cope with his disability.

"It is extremely important," Shandi told KATU as she held back tears. "She's not only his seizure dog but she's really helped the whole family during everything with him."

Bella had tags on a pink collar but was not fitted with a microchip. The family's phone number is listed on the tag.

If you see Bella you can call the KATU Newsroom at (503) 231-4264 and we'll alert the family. You can also email and share Bella's photo on our Facebook page to spread the word.