Sometimes assistance dogs are named without their characteristics affecting the process. As fate would have it, Newfador (a Newfoundland and Labrador Retriever mixed breed) Iceley fits her name perfectly. Iceley embraces winter, even considering that her warm and affectionate personality might melt the snow beneath her sizable paws. Katy, who started training with the Mobility Assist Dog from Can Do Canines in September 2020, states, “Her name is really appropriate, because she absolutely adores running around and playing in the snow.”
As any Midwestern knows, though, ice can also be treacherous. When difficult or dangerous situations arise for Katy—outside or inside, ice or no ice—Iceley immediate slides into action. With a combination of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Katy began doing online research several years ago for service dogs. They discovered Can Do Canines and realized that a dog could assist with their challenges related to dizziness, balance and bending over. Katy describes, “Prior to getting Iceley, I wasn’t really able to do much. I had to remain laying down or sitting most of the day. I had very little energy, and much of it was expended doing small mundane tasks. Even doing small tasks like bending over and getting a dropped item had the potential to take me out for a couple of hours.”
Although this 25-year-old young person explains that they were fortunate enough to not be significantly affected by these symptoms until adulthood, in recent years, they were reliant on their mom. Katy could usually only go out in public with their mom accompanying them and could only take a shower when their mom was home, saying “I would feel faint and often unable to function without help.”
Breaking the Ice
That scenario and many others changed once the intelligent and zealous Iceley entered Katy’s life. Since Katy doesn’t live near the Can Do Canines facility, they were able to take advantage of the client apartment during their training time. Katy explains, “It was so beneficial having several days of training at the Can Do facility.” They then had a local Can Do Canines trainer help them get accustomed to having Iceley work in the house. Katy remembers their first experiences with Iceley, saying, “I was really impressed with how quickly she got in tune with me, like my walking pace and walking in the counterbalance harness.”
A specific situation comes to Katy’s mind too. “After showering one day, I called Icelely in to come and pick up my towel and clothes off the floor. I’m always extremely symptomatic after showers, and if I had bent over to get the things myself, I likely would have passed out. Because she was there, I was able to get dressed and go lay down to recover without help from my mom, and was able to recover much faster.” Iceley’s standing body can also serve as a prop for Katy's legs on command. Plus, she is a master at retrieving and picking up dropped items, including keys, a remote, Katy's cane, a spoon, a water bottle, a phone, and more. “She’s made it possible to regain so much independence,” says Katy.
Just the Tip of the Iceberg
With their newfound independence, Katy has an ever-increasing list of goals and dreams. Once their health is a bit more stable, they hope to continue their education and perhaps take some college classes in the eastern Wisconsin community. “I also hope to do more volunteer work and on a much more reliable basis,” Katy shares. Traveling is something they are eager to resume when COVID is more under control. Additionally, Katy helps run support group meetings for EDS Wisconsin and says, “I really look forward to sharing my story and telling others about how much of a difference she makes.” Katy states, “With Iceley in my life, these goals seem like they are realistic and attainable, whereas before they seemed overly optimistic.” They add, “Having this assistance dog has made such a difference in my quality of life, and has given me much more hope about my future. I know this wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and generosity of so many people. I really can’t put into words how much Iceley means, and how much she has already helped me. She is really the best partner I could’ve asked for.”
As appreciative Katy is of Iceley’s working abilities, they reveal, “Even when she’s not working, she brings me so much happiness and laughter because she’s such a joy to be around.” And that is just icing on the cake!
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: Kimberly Young
Puppy Raiser: Kristi DeRop
Special Thanks: Federal Correctional Institution-Sandstone
Whelping Home: Karin & Elroy Balgaard
You: Thank you for your donations!