After losing beloved therapy dog, Henrico man receives priceless surprise

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. – The past few months haven’t been easy for Chris Jackson. Back in December of 2016, the Henrico man lost his best friend, Jake.

“I get up and cry every morning," Jackson said with tears rolling down his face. "I was so used to him being the first thing I saw, the first thing that I touched.”

Chris Jackson

Jake was a service and emotional support dog that had been by Jackson’s side for over 14 years.

“He was so intelligent,” said Jackson. “He gave me all the love and support that I needed.”

CBS 6 first told viewers about Jackson and Jake last June. Jackson reached out for help when his aging dog required additional veterinary attention.

Jackson is disabled and lives on a fixed income. He was desperate to find a way to afford Jake’s medical expenses and get transportation to a veterinarian.

Chris Jackson and Jake the dog

Thanks to an outpouring of support from CBS 6 viewers, nearly $7,000 was raised to help Jackson and Jake.

Since Jake’s death, Jackson started looking to find himself a new four legged friend last month.

But, he’s learned it could take years to get another service dog, and cost him thousands of dollars.

He’s been hoping someone could help him.

“Someone out there knows how to help me cut through the red tape,” he said.

Chris Jackson and Jake

That someone, we found out, is Kayla Wells with New Life Individual and Family Services in Dallas, Texas.

Wells and Nala the dog flew into Richmond International Airport Wednesday afternoon to surprise Jackson with his new companion.

Jackson thought he was speaking to CBS 6 about the struggle of finding a service dog, but in the middle of that interview, we told him the news.

“We have a surprise for you,” said CBS 6 reporter Chelsea Rarrick. “We have gotten you a new best friend.”

A few moments later, Kayla Wells and John Sawyer with Bridging RVA entered Jackson’s home with Nala in hand.

“This is Nala, she’s all yours!” they said.

Chris Jackson and Nala

Bridging RVA is familiar with Jackson’s story and wanted to help him get a new dog. They contacted Wells, as her organization works to place service dogs in new homes.

“We knew how important a service animal was for his health, he has some challenges including physical disabilities,” said Sawyer with Bridging RVA.

Kayla and her team knew Nala would be a perfect fit.

“She’s probably one of the best dogs in our program ever and I know Mr. Jackson, you will take extremely good care of her,” said Wells.

Before her arrival in Richmond, Nala was in the care of Wells.

She admits, it’s sad to see her go, but knows the amount of love and happiness that “Nala Bear” will bring to Mr. Jackson.

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