FOR ONE Clackmannanshire teenager, having a dog has entirely changed her life – and it’s all thanks to a poem.

Jess Powling, 16, has learning difficulties and found her time at school incredibly hard, leaving her confidence shattered.

Jess had to have a separate lunch club as she found the main dining room too loud and scary, and at times refused to leave her bedroom as she battled her anxiety.

But her life would change for the better – all thanks to a spaniel named Bella.

The teenager, along with her sister Chloe, had always wanted a dog but their dad was not convinced.

Jess managed to learn a seven-verse poem called ‘Hey Daddy, would you get us a dog?’ and performed it at school amazing teachers and finally persuading her father to grant his daughters their wish.

Bella, a five-year-old English springer spaniel, has taken Jess to places she never thought she would and has instilled a new breadth of confidence in her life.

“She has made a huge difference to my life because to begin with I didn’t want to even get out of my bedroom, eat anything and I just didn’t enjoy life,” explained Jess.

“When we got Bella, it just started getting me out of my bedroom and want to go play with her, train and take her for walks. It boosted my confidence because I thought I couldn’t do anything.

“To convince my dad to get Bella I did a seven-verse poem and that was one of the first times that I achieved something or learned something.

“The poem involves a dad and child, so my dad sung it with me and at the end the dad says alright, alright I’ll get you a dog. So, when he sung that, I was like right we can get a dog now!”

Jess endeavoured to train Bella and has since qualified for Crufts on multiple occasions, while a year ago she achieved second in the Junior ABC agility class.

But now she could be heading to the dog show for an entirely new reason after she and Bella were nominated for but missed out on the final short-list for The Kennel Club’s Friends for Life award.

The pair are up for the prize in the child’s hero category, celebrating a pet dog who has seen its owner through the hardest times as well as the happiest.

The Kennel Club wants to celebrate and share the amazing stories of how dogs give back to us every day of our lives. There will be one winner per category, decided through a public vote, and the overall winner will be announced in the NEC arena at Crufts 2019. 

The winner will also be awarded £5,000 and the runners up will each receive – for their nominated canine charity – £1,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust – helping to make a difference for dogs.

With her confidence going from strength to strength, Jess has now even started attending college – something that was not thought possible before Bella became a part of the family.

She said: “When I trained her tricks, it felt like I’d achieved something and then I started getting happier.

“When we qualified for Crufts, my mum wasn’t sure if I was going to cope with it, as I struggled going into a shop.

“But I knew I was going to have Bella with me and knew I was going to be fine. I struggled at times, but Bella was always there. If I didn’t have Bella, I don’t want to think what I’d be like. She’s everything.

“When I go to college, I know I won’t see her. But I know, she’ll be at home waiting. That’s the best bit about coming home and she’s always happy to see you.”