Since the day Sinead Ellis was born, the pain has always been in her right side.

The 25-year-old Toronto woman suffers from a rare condition called Parkes Weber Syndrome. That has spelled a lifetime of explosive pain — from her bones to her muscles to her very blood vessels.

woman holding baby duckSinead Ellis

There are frequent infections. And trouble walking because her right leg is about twice the size as her left. Sometimes, her right foot and leg will spontaneously bleed. Then there are the blood clots that develop deep in her veins.

"I spent basically all of high school in the hospital," Ellis tells The Dodo. "As I got older, things got worse."

But Ellis has something else at her side. Or someone, in the form of a giant, furry band-aid named Paddington.

puppy being heldSinead Ellis

And when she's really feeling it, this specially trained dog isn't content to just be at her side.

He hugs her like there's no tomorrow.

service dog laying on woman at hospitalSinead Ellis

"This is the most Velcro dog ever," Ellis says.

Paddington hasn't quite graduated from his official training at Thames Centre Service Dogs yet — a program that will eventually cost $17,000. But even before getting his certification, he's been mending Ellis's hurts, both inside and out.

woman hugging her dog outsideSinead Ellis

For more than a decade Ellis had a hole in her foot. Doctors just couldn't seem to keep it closed.

When Paddington arrived in her life just over a year ago, one of the first things he did was press himself tightly against her wound.

service dog holding woman's footSinead Ellis

Like a living, breathing compression bandage, Paddington managed to close the hole by applying constant pressure to it — an actual medical technique called Deep Pressure Therapy. He faithfully held her foot for an hour every day over three weeks. It's stayed like that ever since.

woman hugging service dogSinead Ellis

But while Paddington has a natural inclination to hug things out, he's also learned a staggering array of medical skills.

service dog on hospital bedSinead Ellis

He can sniff out chemical changes in Ellis' body, for instance, alerting her to internal bleeding that could have fatal consequences when she's sleeping.

woman hugging dog in bedSinead Ellis

And he knows when her anxiety levels are getting perilously high — and calms her down the best way he knows how.

woman hugging dog on couchSinead Ellis

He also gets her out of the house, helping balance Ellis on her mismatched feet — and keeping her nerves at bay.

service dog looking at fake service dogSinead Ellis

"I had gotten to the point with my anxiety that I couldn't leave my house," Ellis says.

woman hugging service dog on grassSinead Ellis

But Paddington's first love is that foot. He was just 9 weeks old when he was first drawn to it. Ellis thinks it's because he can hear the arterial blood flowing through it.

And through that foot, he finds his way to his patient's heart.

woman cuddling service dogSinead Ellis

You can follow the continuing adventures of Paddington and Ellis on Instagram and on Facebook.

And if would like to support Paddington's journey toward becoming a certified service dog, consider making a contribution here.