When Jackson Lyman met his dog Dallas, the connection was instantaneous.
"He was just like the best dog ever," Jackson said.
A longtime dog lover, the Eagle Scout had asked his mother Candi for a dog for years, but she always said no. While volunteering at the Woodbury Animal Humane Society, Jackson met the 2-year-old Dallas, a chow chow and golden retriever mix.
Dallas was such a good dog, he won mom over immediately.
"The second I laid eyes on him I was like oh, well yes," Candi said.
He quickly stole the affection of all the family, but still holds a special connection with Jackson. The high school student bought Dallas himself, and pays for his veterinarian care and food.
"Ultimately, he's Jackson's dog," Candi said.
Which made it all the more devastating for Jackson and his family when Dallas got out of the house and was hit by a car Sunday, Feb. 26 near their home in Houlton off County Road E. The driver immediately informed the family, and they found Dallas bleeding and hurt in the garage.
"You can see he was trying to climb up the steps to let us know," Candi said.
Dallas broke most of the bones in both ankles of his back legs, had bone and ligament shaved off and lost a lot of blood.
"That was crazy for him to run all the way back," Jackson said.
The family took Dallas for emergency care at the Oakdale Animal Emergency and Referral Center. He spent several nights at the hospital getting his injuries under control and fighting the risk of infection.
With the extent of his injuries, the veterinarian said the family should discuss euthanizing Dallas due to the cost of the treatment. With surgery, vet visits and bandage changes, the cost of care is expected to be between $16,000 and $20,000. Though the cost is high, the veterinarian said if Dallas received treatment he would likely make a full recovery.
"We don't have a choice," Candi said. "We're not done yet, he's not done yet."
In the weeks since the accident, Dallas has undergone two surgeries on his back legs. The surgeon set his bones with pins, repaired the ligaments and closed most of the wounds, though infection is still a risk. Candi said he is recovering well from the surgery.
"The really good news is they expect him to be able to run, jump, and play again," she said in a Facebook update.
Dog's best friend
Through it all, the entire family has been by Dallas' side, Jackson especially. They spent hours in the hospital with Dallas, sometimes visiting twice a day, with Jackson and his siblings Cameron and Amelia doing everything they could to comfort Dallas.
"When we were visiting him there they'd just lay right on the cement floor with him," Candi said.
After improvements to his condition and seeing the family's dedication to caring for him, the hospital allowed Dallas to go home. The family has set up two twin beds on its living room floor, so Jackson and his siblings can take turns sleeping with Dallas.
"He just snuggles with him pretty much all the time," Candi said.
With all the love and support, Dallas is keeping his own calm personality through the ordeal. Jackson said it's a comfort to see the dog be himself still.
"He's always positive," Jackson said. "His tail is always wagging no matter what."
Though Dallas' injuries are extensive, Jackson and Candi said they're glad the damage isn't worse.
"We're lucky he's alive," Jackson said.
The family is grateful to the driver of the black SUV that hit Dallas for stopping and helping them look for Dallas after the accident. Though they didn't get his name, they said they want him to know that Dallas is doing well thanks to his help.
"If he hadn't stopped we don't know how long it would have been and it might have been too late," Candi said.
As Dallas' recovery continues, the family looks forward to Dallas remaining a part of their lives and seeing all he's going to do. Before the accident, Jackson had planned on training Dallas to be a therapy dog at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Despite Dallas' injuries, Jackson hopes they'll still be able to continue with the training.
"I brought Dallas with one of the times and everyone that was walking by came to pet him," he said. "So I thought that was really cool."
The recovery is going to take time. Dallas needs continued bandage changes, skin grafting and physical therapy. Jackson and his family will continue to support Dallas through it all.
"He's a part of the family," Jackson said.
To support Dallas and follow his recovery, visit his GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/jaxs-medical-fund-for-dallas.