Facility Dog Igor III

yellow lab canine companions service dog with young boy

“A child had just received new braces and was refusing to walk in them. All I had to say was, ‘let’s get Igor’s leash and take him outside,’ and Igor and the child were walking and eventually running outside together,” recalls Teresa, a physical therapist at Children’s TherAplay Foundation Inc. Facility Dog Igor III and Teresa work with over 500 children from the ages of 18 months to 13 years old every month.

Teresa uses Igor to encourage and motivate children during physical therapy. “They have such a great time interacting with Igor that they often do not even realize how hard they are working. They are working on walking, increasing their balance and soon they are running with Igor trying to keep up,” says Teresa. “Igor helps motivate children to perform activities that are challenging in a way that is non-threatening and comfortable for them. He also helps to calm children when they are experiencing pain or fear.”

During physical therapy sessions Igor will join the children in running relays and obstacle courses. He tugs them on scooter boards to help them with balance and core strength and helps them practice dressing by tugging off socks and jacket sleeves.

Igor not only motivates and encourages the children he works with, but Teresa as well. “Igor’s patience and unconditional love is what I admire the most. It teaches me to be a better physical therapist. I could not imagine performing my job without him. He makes me a better person,” says Teresa. “I feel very blessed to have a Canine Companions facility dog and to be able to share him daily with children with special needs as part of my work. I truly have my dream job with my dream partner in Igor.”