Jeff & Cojack
(Jeff & Cojack are graduates of ICAN's 2017 Graduation Class)
ICAN, I CAN, I can. We get used to saying it, but when you say, "I can," it brings an entirely new perspective to what ICAN does. Those two small words mean something big to Jeff, who is paired with Cojack a yellow Golden Lab.
Providing Jeff mobility assistance, Cojack knows how to help balance as Jeff walks with his cane.
Jeff is 44, and a veteran. He lives with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD. "With PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) you constantly feel out of place," Jeff said. "It feels like people are looking at you, like you're being watched." The PTSD limited Jeff's outings including trips in the community, like going out to eat. But all of that has changed thanks to Cojack. "I feel more confident with him at my side, I'm able to get out more," Jeff said. "He keeps me on track with my PTSD, he's amazing."
Nothing but love at first sight!
Before Jeff had Cojack it had been three or four months before he'd eaten meals outside of his home. "With Cojack by my side when I'm eating out, people are staring at him, not me. He draws the attention away from me," Jeff said. Cojack is also helping Jeff open up to strangers. "I've met a lot more people than I usually do, they want to know about Cojack, and I get to tell them his story."
Now that the two are more active, a good night sleep is in order, something Jeff hasn't had in a long time. Before Cojack, Jeff didn't sleep more than 6 hours a night. "He helps me sleep because he cuddles up next to me. I've been sleeping a lot better. He's sometimes a bed hog, but we work it out," Jeff said.
(left to right); Kristine, Cojack and Jeff. Kristine is an ICAN Furlough Volunteer and an ICAN Client; she also has an ICAN service dog that provides her mobility assistance. Kristine worked with Cojack outside of the prison setting so that she could provide him a range of experiences in order to strengthen his mobility skills for Jeff.
Jeff also lives with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and has limited use of his.eft hand along with some hearing impairment. He uses a power wheelchair and a cane. Cojack will give Jeff balance, help pick up dropped items, and open doors just to name a few of his skills. The four-legged partner is Jeff's second, his former service dog passed away. Jeff's Mom sees a big difference in her son when he has a service companion. "She said your attitude is so different when you have a dog with you. It's night and day," Jeff said.
Jeff has a very strong tie to the VA center in Indianapolis. He works on project redesigns, and his team name is Cojack. His partner is having a positive effect on those around him. "He's one of the biggest blessings my live has ever experienced," Jeff said.
Two very happy guys!
The two have a lot of adventures ahead of them. Jeff is looking forward to being out more with Cojack. He said their relationship is perfect. "He's the rockstar, and I'm the roadie!"
ICAN Handler, James, trained Cojack for his Level 1 & 2 skills.