Kyle and Mobility Assist Dog Igor
The summer before his senior year of high school, Kyle was in an ATV accident. He was riding along the North Shore when he lost control of the vehicle. It skidded off the road and into two trees. Kyle was flung forward, hitting each of his shoulders onto a tree, causing his helmet to come loose.
The result was a broken C5 and C6 vertebrae in Kyle’s neck, paralyzing him from the chest down. “That, of course, flipped my world upside down,” says Kyle. Having been the captain of the football team, his senior year of high school played out much differently than he ever imagined. He finished school at home, going to and from rehabilitation, and had numerous surgeries. “That was pretty tough,” he says. “It was a lot on my family too.”
Life was suddenly very different for Kyle. He was relying on his family for help every day. Seemingly simple tasks like picking up his phone after he dropped it or opening his dresser drawer weren’t simple anymore. “It’s definitely a different world,” he explains.
When Kyle was in rehab, his speech pathologist had an assistance dog. Seeing how the dog could help, and Kyle already being a dog person, it only made sense to him to apply for his own dog.
Originally, Kyle was going to apply to an organization in Ohio. But the long trip and group training would have been difficult for him. When his family learned about Can Do Canines, they hit the trifecta. They were only a 2-and-a-half hour drive from the facility, Kyle could do one-on-one training, and he could continue training at home with a local trainer. The decision to apply was an easy one.
Now in his second year of college, Kyle has a Mobility Assist Dog named Igor by his side. “The first day—it just felt so natural,” Kyle says of meeting Igor. The two trained for three days at the Can Do Canines facility before going home for further training. “It was a lot easier than I expected. Igor made it pretty easy,” he smiles.
Kyle has limited arm movement and even more limited finger dexterity, meaning dropping things is a regular occurrence for him. He used to have to go find his grabber or call for someone in the house to help him. But now he just needs to ask his four-legged friend to “get it” and they’re onto the next thing.
“The big trouble is when I run over blankets,” says Kyle. “They just get wound up in the wheels.” Although Igor can’t untangle blankets or other things from Kyle’s wheelchair, he knows how to find someone who can and bring them back to Kyle.
Igor knows that Kyle is his partner. “He rarely will be out of the room that I’m in. He’ll follow me everywhere I go. He’ll hear my chair start moving if he’s not around and come running.” Kyle smiles. “He’s definitely always got his eye on me.”
Kyle is grateful to those who helped raise Igor. “I don’t know exactly what you did, but he’s greater than I could have ever imagined. Thank you to anyone who helped in the process of making him who he is—because he’s pretty great.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: Frank & Vicki Ernst
Puppy Raiser: Stanley Correctional Institution
Special Thanks: The Goodman family
Whelping Home: Kolleen Herr
Breeder Host: Nancy Sue Edgar
You: Thank you for your donations!