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Jan 15, 2013 9:16 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

Tucson boy shares special bond with man's best friend

TUCSON- Twelve-year-old Marco Fernstaedt wanted a dog more than anything.

"I kept saying 'mom I want a dog really, really bad'," Marco says.

So imagine his surprise when his mother, Cynthia Martinez, decided to take him to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. "I gave in right before Christmas," Martinez says. "I told him we'll take a look."

That is when Marco met a six-year-old shepherd mix named Claire. "She went right up to Marco and was kissing him and everybody in the office was like 'awww'. I'm like okay, I can't deny it now, we're going to have to get the dog," Martinez says.

And so began a bond between a dog that has been in and out of shelters and a boy who rarely used to get out. "I would watch TV and that's about it," Marco says.

Marco has a string of health problems. He's legally blind, asthmatic, epileptic and he's losing his hearing in one ear. "Health issues that limit what he's able to do and what he's active in," Martinez says. "He has really low energy levels, so he doesn't get out a lot like other kids."

But with Claire by his side, Marco is getting out and enjoying life. "She makes me a lot happier than I was," Marco says.

And the feeling seems to be so mutual, sometimes it's hard to tell who's rescuing whom. "It will make a huge difference for him, let him be more like a normal kid," Martinez says.

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