Local 4-year-old boy gets life-changing Christmas gift

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DENISON, Tex. (KXII) -- A 4-year-old Denison boy who was saved by two strangers nearly seven months ago is now getting another life-changing gift.

Step by step, 4-year-old Dylan McFarland is relearning how to walk and talk after suffering a brain injury in May.

But now, Dylan has a furry friend with him every step of the way.

"Good boy, good boy," Dylan McFarland said to his new dog named Mario.

Back in May, the family's car broke down on the side of the road in Denison while Dylan was choking on a bead. Two strangers noticed the family and pulled over to help.

With only seconds to spare, those strangers got Dylan to Texoma Medical Center where he was stabilized and flown to Children's Health in Dallas, but he had to spend the next few weeks in the ICU.

"A very scary situation, he was unable to walk, he couldn't walk," Dylan's mom Jerilyn McFarland said.

His parents and sisters have been his cheerleaders since then, but now he's adding a new member to his team, one who will always be right by his side.

"Lean on him Dylan, lean on him," Jerilyn said.

Dylan's been home from the hospital since August and that's when he first met a dog named Mario.

"Dylan can use the support from the dog to help himself walk and to balance," Dexter Morin said.

Mario is a service dog trained through Paws In Hand Canine Consulting in Gunter. Owner Dexter Morin said Mario's training was covered completely by local donations.

"They wanted to give a Christmas gift," Morin said.

"He's extremely happy," Jerilyn said.

As of Tuesday, Mario is now officially gifted to Dylan as his full-time service dog and best friend.

"The instant bond that they had was just incredible," Jerilyn said. "I'm thankful that I've gotten to take this journey with my son."

"A companion, they love each other. You can't teach that, that's not me, that's through God," Morin said.