Kessler physical therapist, dog assist patients

Kessler physical therapist Mary Van Der Meer spends time with new therapy dog Paoli.
Kessler physical therapist Mary Van Der Meer spends time with new assistance dog Paoli.

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Kessler Rehabilitation Institute physical therapist Mary Van Der Meer recently received an assistance dog from Canine Companions for Independence, a national nonprofit organization providing assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities.

Van Der Meer was matched with Paoli, a 2-year-old labrador/golden retriever cross who has been trained to respond to more than 40 advanced commands. Paoli can turn light switches on and off, open and close doors, and retrieve dropped objects. But Paoli’s new job will be assisting Van Der Meer at the Kessler Rehabilitation Institute in West Orange, where she works with patients recovering from stroke and traumatic injuries.

Van Der Meer and Paoli returned to West Orange 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.

UPDATE: This article was corrected to reflect that Paoli is an assistance dog, not a therapy dog.

One Response to "Kessler physical therapist, dog assist patients"

  1. John Bentzinger   February 23, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Paoli is not a Therapy Dog- He is a highly trained Assistance Dog.
    The press release I sent you stated this very clearly. If you would like to correct this, please contact me. Regards, John Bentzinger, Canine Companions for Independence. [email protected]