Most little boys love their dogs. But for 10-year-old Connor Jayne, his dog is more than just his best friend. Copper, a 4-year-old Doberman, is Connor's service and emotional support dog.
Connor 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, Connor 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."
Connor'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 Connor on helpful medication.
Since then, Copper has been able to sense when an anxiety attack is coming on, pushing his body up against Connor 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 Connor 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 Connor, 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, Connor 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 $17,000 has been raised.
An early update
Connor and his baby sister pose with Copper. (Photo: Jennifer Jayne)
Copper has visited the vet, Jayne tells MNN, and although Wobbler syndrome hasn't been ruled out, early testing has shown narrowing of the spine between two vertebrae. The vet believes the dog might have infraspinatus tendinopathy and cervical intervertebral disk disease. He's currently receiving laser and ultrasound therapy, but a true diagnosis, treatment plan and prognosis will be in place after an MRI in mid-July.
"We are still in shock at the overwhelming support. We never expected anything like this as it started with Connor just wanting to have a bit of control in a situation he couldn't control," Jayne says. "He knew he could sell his toys and help with cost and it helped to give him a sense of purpose for his best friend. We also hope it helps raise awareness to the importance of service animals and our role to help them as well."
Jayne says the family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love they have received and they 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."
Editor's note: This story was published in June 2018 and has been updated with new information.