Kessler receives assistance dog Irvin

Katie Young and Irvin

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Canine Companions for Independence, a national nonprofit providing highly trained assistance dogs for children, adults and veterans with disabilities, recently announced that Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation physical therapist Katie Young received a Canine Companions facility dog.

Young was matched with Irvin, a 2-year-old yellow lab/golden retriever cross who has been trained to respond to more than 40 advanced commands. Irvin can turn light switches on and off, open and close doors, and retrieve dropped objects. But Irvin’s new job will be assisting Young at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, where she works with patients recovering from spinal cord injuries. Irvin will be used as a motivational tool to help patients achieve their goals in preparation for their next stop on the road to recovery.

Young and Irvin returned home to Hoboken after completing Canine Companion’s recent Team Training Class, an intense, two-week course held at the organization’s Northeast Regional Center in Medford, N.Y. — one of six such centers nationwide. The Northeast Regional Center serves a 13-state area from Maine to Virginia.

Each student who attends Team Training is paired with a fully trained, working assistance dog, like Irvin, and is taught to work with his or her canine companion. The training course consists of daily lectures, exams, practice and public outings.

Young and Irvin are settling into a routine back at Kessler Institute.

“Irvin is a very special dog and he is already making a tremendous difference in our patients’ lives,” Young said.