A WEE COUNTY teenager who found life so tough she wanted it to end has had her world transformed by her faithful four-legged friend.

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

The 16-year-old 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 anxiety.

According to her mum, she got to the point where she would even say she didn't want to live any longer.

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

The Muckhart teenager, along with her sister Chloe, had always wanted a dog but their parents were not convinced.

Though at the time she was unsure of her alphabet, Jess put everything she had into learning a seven-verse poem called "Hey Daddy, would you get us a dog?".

She performed it at school to the amazement of teachers and it was the final persuasion as her parents granted Jess' wish.

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

The teenager said: "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.

"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'."

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

"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."

Jess and Bella could now be heading to this year's Crufts competition. They were nominated for The Kennel Club's Friends for Life award, but unfortunately missed out on the final shortlist.

However, 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 how dogs give back to people every day. 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 with the winner awarded £5,000.

Jess continued 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."

Jess' mum Harriet told the Advertiser of the difference she has witnessed in her daughter since Bella's arrival.

"It was amazing," she said. "She didn't have her alphabet and couldn't count to 10, but she was just so determined to learn the poem.

"It was enough to make me emotional. It was just incredible.

"She was struggling badly at school, but she was so passionate about this."

After getting Bella, Harriet says Jess was almost unrecognisable, regaining her confidence with a zest for life which she so sorely lacked before.

Harriet continued: "She was just a totally different human being altogether. She had been saying she didn't want to be alive anymore and that was just at nine and ten.

"She was also bullied at school for being different.

"Having Bella, however, helps Jess to understand that it's OK to not understand stuff sometimes.

"She accepts herself for what she is now, she feels like a success."