Kids can be amazing. Born with a natural empathy and kindness, especially toward animals, children can connect with them on a special level that adults may not be able to fully understand. Introducing 10 year old American boy, Connor Jayne. After learning that his beloved emotional support dog, a Doberman named Copper was sick, decided to raise the money himself to pay for his dog’s expensive medical treatment. Connor himself has various medical issues - he struggles with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety and a chronic headache disorder. Originally Copper was bought as a pet, but soon became a pivotal part of Connor’s life.
Emotional support animals are becoming increasingly popular for people not only dealing with mental health issues but also for a variety of disabilities. While dogs are the most popular companion, it’s not unusual to find people with cats, ducks and even miniature ponies as their support animals. While there are criticisms in regards to the validity of keeping these animals, it’s believed that they are intuitive enough to be able to sense when their human companion is becoming stressed or overwhelmed.
It’s because of this that Copper is able to sense when Connor is about to have an anxiety attack and will lay on him like a weighted blanket (which is known as DPT – deep pressure touch) which is helpful in reducing his stress levels. Although Copper was never trained to do this, when the Jayne family got Copper it was something he did instinctively. It was also Copper who alerted Connor’s mother Jennifer that something was seriously wrong in the nights with Connor. He would stand at Connor’s bedroom door barking until Jennifer opened the door and was able to see first hand that her son was having nocturnal seizures. When it happened again she was able to film it to take to the specialist and Connor is now on medication that controls his seizures thanks to Copper. It was because of this act that Copper received his service dog qualification.
Mental health conditions are on the rise in all parts of the world and Jennifer shared some tips for parents that may be struggling with a child who is showing signs. “I think the biggest thing for parents to do is to be empathetic and understand it’s not their fault and they’re child isn’t doing it on purpose. The children need help figuring out strategies to calm themselves and some parents just get angry and think they’re acting up or refusing to do something. It’s the hardest thing to watch and not be able to help. Having our dog makes it easier and because of their connection I know he can help my son through.”
It was then very sad news in 2017 when Copper developed a limp and needed to have extensive testing including an MRI scan. Faced with a looming vet bill Connor decided to give back to the dog he owed so much to and decided to raise the money himself. What followed was a lemonade/snack stand, as well as Connor cleaning out his toy room and selling his toys in a garage sale (his mother eventually snuck a few back into the house otherwise Connor would have sold everything!). Even with Connor’s contribution they didn’t have enough money for expensive vet bills – it was then that Jennifer started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise the money and a good thing she did as they’ve already raised almost USD18,000 to go towards Copper’s treatment for what was preliminary diagnosed as Intervertebral Disk Disease (which causes back pain, rear limb paralysis, and inability to walk or feel the back legs) as well as tendionapthy (forelimb lameness), both of while have been ruled out now. Further testing is needed and the family are keeping a close eye on Copper to make sure he’s not too active while they are still trying to diagnose what is causing the problem. Connor has been overjoyed at people’s kindness to help his hero, Copper and we pray for his speedy recovery.
To follow Connor and Copper’s journey you can visit their Facebook page -
If you feel your child is showing symptoms of a mental health issue you can visit the following website for more information: