A Mother’s Story ”My Son Yevhen (Eugene) and his dog Jackson”

A Mother’s Story by Oksana

Yevhen (Eugene) was born in Ukraine and here is his mother’s story after he received Jackson from ICAN in December, 2017.

Eugene & Jackson

My name is Oksana. My son Yevhen has cerebral palsy as a result of birth trauma and many anxieties.  He moved to America three years ago. Immediately after his arrival, we began to attend physical therapy in St. Vincent Hospital. In the hospital, there was a dog called Primo who worked with children with different types of disabilities. My son liked working with Primo so much that he wanted to take him home. The owner of the dog told us to contact an organization in Florida who trained dogs for disabled people, but our application was denied. They said that they do not train dogs for people with cerebral palsy. We were very sad. Then our physical therapy coach advised us to contact ICAN and we sent our application in.

ICAN told us we would have to wait for one to three years to get a dog. My son waited impatiently to be given a dog. He asked me “when will my dog come” every day.  And then we received a surprise call from Sally telling us that ICAN had three dogs that she thinks will fit well with my son. On the day they came to visit our house I was at work. My husband sent me a photo of all three dogs and my mother called me and said that it’s very funny that one dog lies on the floor in the frog’s pose, just like I was laid down on the floor when I was a baby. It made me smile. Of the three dogs, I and my husband immediately liked Jackson.

Eugene, Jackson, and his mother Oksana at ICAN’s team training.

If love at first sight exists, then it was it. My son also chose Jackson. When we first saw Jackson in team training we had no doubt that this is a dog for my son. They were very well matched to each other. It all started with a kiss, like in films about love. My son kissed Jackson’s head and Jackson licked his whole face.

At the graduation, when Jackson came on the stage he did not take his eyes off my son and barked, although they had only met several times. Jackson wanted to talk to Yevhen and woofed as if to say “Just come and play with me. I will never forget that touching moment when my son was brought to Jackson and Jackson put his paws on Yevhen’s shoulders and started to lick his whole face.  I could not hold back my tears.


Jackson’s handler, Stephanie with Eugene

I and my whole family are very attached to Jackson, he has quickly become a member of the family. My son does not leave Jackson, he plays with him and continues to hug and kiss him all day. My son has changed the better since Jackson joined our family and his fears have gradually disappeared. I think they are perfect for each other. My son told me recently that he does not imagine his life without Jackson.

From the depths of my heart, from my son, and from and our whole family, I want to say thank you to ICAN! Thank you for who you are, and for your hard but necessary work. Also thanks to all volunteers and sponsors. Thank you for helping my son realize the dream of support and a reliable friend who will never give up and always will be there and always come to the rescue in a difficult moment. Thank you so much for all your help.

Photo by Eugene’s mother, Oksana