NORTH YARMOUTH, Maine — A unique bond between a young man from North Yarmouth with his special four-legged friend is the inspiration for a soon-to-be-released children's book.
Scotty came into this world fighting the odds. Diagnosed with a number of congenital heart defects, called Tetrology of Fallot. A condition that required open heart surgery.
"He had his first operation at five days old," Scott Wentzell, Scotty's dad, said.
He underwent corrective surgeries at six months old and on his 18th birthday.
Scotty also has Dubowitz Syndrome, an extremely rare chromosomal disorder that can cause physical and developmental delays. Scotty began early intervention services and started walking for the first time in kindergarten.
"We did occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, but they couldn't tell us what his future would be like," Lisa Wentzell, Scotty's mother, explained.
But his parents made sure their son's future was bright. Scotty participates in adaptive skiing, horseback riding, swimming, and surfing, just to name a few. Years later, Lisa picked up a life-sized stuffed dog for Scotty named 'Spillway' — and the rest is history.
"They do everything together, it's just a unique friendship, Scotty really loves Spillway," Lisa added.
"People often think he is a real dog — they'll look and say I thought he was real, and we say he is real," Scott explained.
Scotty is now 22 and that amazing bond with his best friend is still going strong. Their unique friendship also planted a seed about sharing their amazing adventures — from Spillway's perspective.
Lisa collaborated with Heidi Bullen, a longtime friend, third-grade teacher, and children's book author on "A Dog & His Boy: The Adventures of Spillway & Scotty." The rhyming book features colorful pictures by Maine illustrator Claudia Diller. The book takes readers along Spillway's journey of life with Scotty by his side.
"These are real adventures he goes on every day Scott and Lisa have provided for him and the children to see that," Bullen explained.
The book also features pictures of Scotty and a list of non-profits he participates in for a variety of activities. Those organizations provide programs and resources to Mainers of all abilities. Some of the organizations include Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center, Special Surfers, Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation, and Best Buddies in Maine.
The hope is a dog and his boy will eventually be in every pre-to-fifth-grade classroom in Maine, and as the book becomes more widely available Scotty's story of hope and inclusivity will go worldwide.
"How Scotty is like everybody else and wants to make friends," Lisa added.
A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the nonprofits Scotty is involved with.