Most little boys love their dogs. But for 10-year-old Conner Jayne, his dog is more than just his best friend. Copper, a 4-year-old Doberman, is Conner's service and emotional support dog.
Conner has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and chronic headache disorder, and he has nocturnal seizures.
When the Jaynes got Copper, they expected him just to be a family pet, but the big-hearted pup ended up becoming so much more.
Two years ago, Conner was seeing specialists trying to diagnose his fatigue, aches, night terrors and behavior issues. Despite medications, tests and diet changes, they were making little progress.
"One evening Copper begin barking at the door almost insisting I go inside his room," writes his mom, Jennifer. "It was then I witnessed my son having a seizure; he was 8 years old and I was terrified."
Conner's nocturnal seizures were not diagnosed at the time so, thanks to Copper, his mom was able to capture the event on camera, show it to the neurologist and get Conner on helpful medication.
Since then, Copper has been able to sense when an anxiety attack is coming on, pushing his body up against Conner to calm him.
A crushing diagnosis
Copper is a big part of the family, even dressing up for certain occasions, just like the kids. The dog presses his body against Conner when he feels the boy is going to have an anxiety attack. (Photo: Jennifer Jayne/GoFundMe)
With all the help Copper has provided to the family, it's fitting that the family now needs to help him. Recently, Copper has been struggling to walk. Veterinarians suspect it is Wobbler syndrome, a spinal disease that can affect large-breed dogs. His newfound limitations have impacted his ability to help Conner, says his mom.
To diagnose and treat Copper, veterinarians need to perform an MRI, but the test and resulting treatment are expensive, and Jayne is a single mom with limited resources.
"When we found out how much the surgical consult and the MRI and surgery was going to cost, we just realized we just didn’t have that money," Jayne told People.
To help pay for diagnosis and treatment, Conner came up with an idea to sell some of his toys in a yard sale at his home in Fairport, New York. In addition, his mom created a GoFundMe account, with hopes of raising $2,800 to cover the cost of the initial test. At the time of publication, more than $15,000 has been raised.
"We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love we have received," posted Jayne, who will update Copper's progress on his Facebook page. She said extra funds raised will go to other animals in need.
"We know it will be a long road to recovery but all the support is making it easier as my son is seeing the good in the world and that one person, one child, can make a huge positive difference. Thank you all."
Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.
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