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Jaden Leiby gets a new best friend

To help Jaden on his road to recovery, he was donated a therapy dog.

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, Pa. — You may remember Jaden Leiby. 

Jaden, 19, was a star player on North Schuylkill High School's football team.

In a game against Pottsville in October 2019, his life changed forever. He suffered a neck injury after a tackle gone wrong.

"I wake up every day, and it's like, oh, I am in a chair, but that's about it. It's not much, stops me from doing life. I am on wheels now, for now. I am working really hard to get back up," said Leiby.

Jaden has been on the road to recovery ever since, and to help him on his journey, a service dog was donated to the athlete. 

Meet Ackley, a Bernedoodle - a cross between a Bernese mountain dog and a poodle.

"My grandfather passed of cancer a couple months ago. We were very good hunting buddies, me, him, and my dad. He gave me a gun, and the gun is a 243 Ackley, and it was the last gun I hunted with. It stuck with me, and I think it would be a good name, ya know," said Leiby.

Allison Mowery is a family friend of the Leiby's. She breeds Bernedoodles.

"When we started doing the Bernedoodles, we never did service dogs before, so we got into the service dog aspect. When this happened with Jaden, and I just knew right away I wanted to give him a puppy to help him," said Mowery of Hegins.

Jaden says he knew Ackley was the one for him the moment he met him.

"They surprised me, and I got to choose whatever dog I wanted. There were Bernedoodles and Goldendoodles, and this one kind of stuck with me right off the bat. He's the one, ya know," said Leiby.

Ackley will be specially trained to help Jaden do a number of tasks, like picking things up off the floor or help the 19-year-old if he's home alone - but most importantly, he will be his best friend.

For more information on animals bred by Mowery, CLICK HERE.