Dog helps Wisconsin Toddler Overcome Hardships through Therapy
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - There's a pretty special little girl getting help from a special furry friend here in La Crosse.
Eden Blankenship turns three in February, but unlike some Eden needs to use a walker.
She was born early and now has some trouble doing things like walking and using both of her hands at the same time.
For the past three years she made trips to Mayo Health System in La Crosse for therapy sessions.
Two months ago Iago started joining her.
He's a therapy dog in training and he's helped Eden do things she hasn't been able to do in her three years in therapy.
"When she's just walking, shes got this walker she knows she needs it but when she gets to see Iago, she forgets she needs the walker," says Stephanie Andersen who is an Occupational Therapist at Mayo.
"We like to see him before our appointments. He just brings her so much joy when he comes in. Gets her motivated to work during therapy," says Eden's mom Jessica.
Iago is part of the Canine Companions for Independence program.
Right now he's learning how to be social around all types of people.
Mayo Health System decided to bring him in to help any patient at the hospital, including Eden.
It's the first time Mayo has had a dog training to be in the program.
Once Iago graduates from training he'll move on to helping someone with a disability full time.
"They're valued at $50,000, but the recipients pay nothing and that's the unique thing about this organization. I'm so so proud that Mayo is partnering with me and Iago and CCI to allow us to be part of this because really both organizations have the same goal, and that's to help other individuals," explains Occupational Therapy Supervisor Lisa Morgan.
For more information on the Canine Companions for Independence head to www.cci.org.