Bellefonte

Benner Township woman’s service dog needs surgery funding

Video: Owner seeks help for service dog in need of surgery

Nykky, a service dog for Debby Jones of Bellefonte, needs help to get back on her feet. Jones is trying to raise money to pay for needed ACL surgery with a Go Fund Me campaign March 31, 2016.
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Nykky, a service dog for Debby Jones of Bellefonte, needs help to get back on her feet. Jones is trying to raise money to pay for needed ACL surgery with a Go Fund Me campaign March 31, 2016.

Nykky’s three-legged limp doesn’t seem fair.

The 9-year-old Siberian husky often hangs her right hind leg in the air, careful not to touch the ground with her paw.

Her owner, Debby Jones, remembers a December day in Clearfield when Nykky yelped and whimpered after jumping into Jones’ vehicle. She thinks that is when the dog was injured.

“She’s never whimpered before that,” Jones, of Benner Township, said. “She sort of shook it off, and we thought maybe she sprained it. We ended up getting her steroids and anti-inflammatory medicine, and she seemed OK.”

It turned out, however, that Nykky tore her ACL, a costly medical expense for which Jones launched a GoFundMe. Nykky does her best to be the first line of defense against Jones’ medical issues, but she has lagged behind since the injury.

“Sorry that’s it’s taking her a while,” Jones said at FaithCentre, where she works a few hours per week. “She’s a little slower right now.”

It used to be that Jones followed Nykky, at least back into the world.

“The bond they have lacks words,” Jones’ friend Toni Fetterman said. “They are inseparable. Nykky’s made such an impact on Debby’s and other people’s lives. It’s amazing to watch them in action. Nykky can’t stand on all fours, and she’s always watching and right by Debby’s side.”

Jones adopted the dog in 2007 from the Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue, months after doctors said she needed to quit working her 60- to 70-hour-a-week job in corporate auditing due to her diagnosis of systemic scleroderma.

Jones was depressed between her last day working a full-time job and adopting Nykky.

“I went from working all the time to not working at all,” Jones. “I can do stuff around the house, but I was lonely. My lifestyle changed, and I took care of myself but didn’t know what I was doing with myself anymore. A lot of doors were shut in my life when I stopped working. When I got Nykky, it gave me something I didn’t have. I saved her from the rescue, but she really rescued me.”

Nykky opened new windows of opportunity for Jones, who began taking her dog to visit people at places like Centre Crest and Community Services Group. Jones quickly became known as “Nykky’s mom” instead of Debby most places they went.

I can’t imagine my life the way it is without her.

Debby Jones

Nykky was also certified as a service dog for Jones, who is prone to “massive” panic attacks and hypoglycemia.

The dog alerts Jones before her sugar tanks or panic attacks take place. It’s happened, Jones said, in places such as stores, her dentist’s office and while she’s driving.

“She’ll be in the back seat one minute, and the next she starts nudging me and comes up front,” Jones said. “I have to pull over and wait for it to pass.”

Jones said Nykky, in more ways than one, saved her life and that it’s time to return the favor.

She has a few times over.

Nykky has had two lung surgeries since 2012, the second due to complications from the first. Steel wires used in the 2012 surgery were removed due to discomfort. Jones’ plan is to have another surgery to repair Nykky’s torn ACL in April.

Jones said she pulled together everything she could for the surgery but is thousands short.

Some small businesses in Bellefonte recently began to collect money for Nykky’s surgery and corporate businesses in the Centre Region also began employee campaigns to help.

“It’s great to know how many people are willing to help and are so supportive, because I can’t imagine my life the way it is without her,” Jones said. “I don’t want it to be her time to go anytime soon. I’m confident in her doctors, but I’m a nervous wreck for her, too.”

Shawn Annarelli: 814-235-3928, @Shawn_Annarelli

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