Celebrating Lolo!

When On With Life’s four-legged employee, Lolo, walks into a room, she instantly lights the place up. Her energetic and curious personality puts smiles on the faces of persons served, families and staff. 

“You can’t help but lighten up when you see Lolo,” says Jillian Jones, physical therapist and one of Lolo’s handlers. “She brings happiness to the people she meets.”

Lolo came to On With Life in 2014 with the help of the Iowa Association for Justice. She works with persons served in both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, making therapy functional for each individual – a major goal for the therapists at On With Life.

“If someone has sustained a brain injury, it can be hard for them to understand how a simple and repetitive therapy task is helpful, so using Lolo makes more sense,” says Jones. “When working with her, there’s a purpose to what you are doing, because taking care of our dog is something that needs to get done.”

In honor of Lolo's fifth birthday, we're sharing five ways Lolo makes a difference at On With Life! 

  1. SHE ENGAGES. Jones recalls one person served who, thanks to Lolo, had a breakthrough in mobility. “He would make a repetitive movement with his left arm that we couldn’t get him to break from,” she says. “The first time he engaged that arm differently was when he threw a ball to Lolo.”
  2. SHE MOTIVATES. Lolo can give persons served a reason to work toward challenging goals. “We were working with someone who was unable to use their voice to speak and he wasn’t motivated to use an eye-gaze system to communicate, but once we programmed the computer to give commands to Lolo, he was excited to use the system and interact with her,” says Jones.
  3. SHE COMFORTS. For persons served who experience pain during therapy, Lolo can be a great distraction. “I remember one person served who struggled with stretching,” says Travis Rasmussen, a certified occupational therapist assistant at On With Life. “When we would put Lolo at his side, she would instantly calm him down and allow us to work harder with him.”
  4. SHE TEACHES. When preparing to return home, pet care is a priority for many. Lolo helps them practice activities like taking a dog on a walk. “When people walk with her, it makes therapy more dynamic and unpredictable because she wanders whichever way she wants,” says Rasmussen.
  5. SHE ENCOURAGES. For persons served, families and staff, interacting with Lolo is an encouragement. A visit from Lolo can brighten their day and lift their spirits.

Happy birthday, Lolo!