Lolo was born on August 13, 2014 to parents Aquarius and Titan. She was hand selected from Iron Hill Retrievers, a well-known and quality breeder located in eastern Iowa. Dad Titan (yellow lab), is a champion and Mom Aquarius (black lab) is a very sweet & special dog that comes from a champion family. Aquarius’ grandfather is a Westminster 2006 Champ named Buzz.
Placing a facility dog like Lolo at On With Life was the vision of Kam Stupka, an On With Life, Inc. board member and director of membership services at the Iowa Association for Justice (IAJ) at the time. In 2013, IAJ selected On With Life as their latest Justice in Deed project recipient, which links trial lawyers with community organizations to serve Iowans in need of assistance. They were quickly able to raise the $10,000 needed to breed, raise, and fully train Lolo.
Lolo was trained by the Puppy Jake Foundation and a few of our therapists who taught her the ins and outs of On With Life. This training made her a certified facility dog, which means she is fully trained to be in the facility and assist our persons served in their therapy sessions. Today, she’s helping persons served get “On With Life” in many different ways.
There are many reasons why Lolo is more than a dog to our persons served, families and staff. Research indicates that interaction with therapy dogs can temporarily affect the release of various neurotransmitters in the brain; levels of oxytocin (linked with bonding) and dopamine (involved in the reward-motivation system) are increased, while cortisol levels (an immunosuppressant associated with stress) are decreased.
Lolo also helps persons served meet goals important to their recovery, such as gaining motion in limbs, fine motor control, or practicing pet care skills for pets they have at home. Engagement with persons served is vital to the rehabilitation process and when individuals interact with Lolo, it just inherently makes sense. Instead of moving a cone back and forth, which isn’t fun or engaging, we bring Lolo into a session and have the person served throw a ball for her or brush her. We are able to get the same or similar range of motion and we get better engagement during the therapy session. In addition to helping during therapy, Lolo serves as an emotional support. When persons served miss their pets, a visit from a dog can brighten their day, lift their spirits, and help motivate them in therapy.