RENO, NV - The bond between us and our canine friends is nothing new, but this connection takes on a special meaning for those with service animals.
Haley, a 7-year-old Papillon, is not only Adrienne Barlow's constant companion; she's quite literally a life saver.
Adrienne suffers from cataplexy, a rare neurological condition that can bring on seizures resulting in sudden loss of muscular control. Momentarily paralyzed, they may fall or worse. If it happens while they are driving or working in the kitchen for instance, it can be extremely dangerous.
Those who suffer from cataplexy can't anticipate where or when it will strike. Specially trained dogs like Haley can.
"If she's not in the room with me, I'll hear a sharp bark," says Adrienne. "If she's with me, she starts licking the air."
And that gives Adrienne time to react before a seizure hits.
"I'm able to take cover. If I'm home I lay down. If I'm in public, I'll take cover by sitting down or if I have enough time getting to my car until it passes."
In fact, Adrienne says Haley has saved her from injury or worse a number of times.
Without her, Adrienne isn't safe stepping out her front door and that makes her dilemma all the more frightening.
For the past two weeks, Haley's health has become the bigger worry. She's been stumbling about, unable at times to work her hind quarters She's stopped eating and she's running a temperature.
Two separate veterinarians have given her two separate ideas what may be wrong, but without more tests no one can be sure if it's treatable or if she may be in pain.
"People have offered to put her down," says Adrienne, "but it could be just a bladder infection."
Haley wouldn't be easy to replace. Besides the emotional void she would leave, there's the cost of replacement. A trained service dog can cost $16,000 or more.
Money, in fact, is the core of the dilemma. Adrienne lives on $600 a month disability benefits. There's no room in the budget for the tests that would lead to a diagnosis.
That leaves Adrienne helpless and contemplating life without the companion that makes hers possible.
"She's done so much for me. She's put up with so much being a service animal too and she does it all for me. Unfortunately right now I can't do that for her."
A bank account has been set up for anyone that would like to help Haley on her road to recovery: The account, "Funds for Haley" is 7321131901 and donations can be made in any Wells Fargo branch nationwide.
You can give directly to Haley's vet bills by going to www.vmth.ucdavis.edu and at the top right side of the page click on "giving." On that page add money amount to the top category on the list VMTH: Area of Greatest Need-Any Species below at the comment section add 'service Papillon Haley' and it will go directly to Haley's care.