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A True Treasure

Maya and her dog Jack.

Little Jack began his purposeful life after being left to die in a dumpster in Lancaster County, PA. Once found, the little dog was taken to the Humane League of Lancaster County where he waited for his forever home.

In another part of town, then 3-year-old Maya had been diagnosed with congenital bilateral perisylvian syndrome and was becoming withdrawn. Her extremely rare condition affected her oral motor functions, such as speech and swallowing and could cause seizures. Her speech therapist suggested that her family get her a dog that might benefit Maya’s social skills.

After taking a year to search for the perfect dog, the Pieters’ found themselves at the Humane League of Lancaster County where they first met Jack. “Maya was down on her knees and her face as close to the gate as can be and he's licking her and I heard Maya talk more to him than she had in a whole week," recalled Maya's mother, Michelle Pieters, of their first encounter with the dog. As Maya continued to bond with the little Terrier mix, they knew that they had found their miracle pet.

As the bond between the two grew, Maya began to come out of her shell; but little did they know that Jack’s love and devotion would soon save Maya’s life. As Jack slept in his crate one morning, he suddenly jumped from his bed and ran to Maya’s bedroom door. After clawing and barking at the door, the family took notice of his behavior and opened her bedroom door. Maya was having her first seizure in her sleep.

Since that first episode, Maya has suffered other seizures. Each time, the little terrier has been able to sense when Maya is about to have a seizure. He has broken her falls, sat on top of her to help settle her convulsing little body and even licks her tears when she wakes up.

For his dedication to his young owner, Jack was nominated for the Humane Society of the United States’ “Valor Dog of the Year.” This award honors and celebrates dogs that have performed extraordinary acts of courage. Although he did not win top honors, Jack was awarded the “People’s Choice” award.

The little terrier does not know that he is a nationally known figure. He just knows that once he was in a dumpster after someone gave up on him. Now he has the love a family and is cherished by a little girl. It just goes to show you that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.