The Z Team

a boy in a wheelchair bends down to pet his yellow lab service dog wearing a blue service vest. His mother stand behind him.

Known as the “Z Team,” 14-year-old Zander and his Canine Companions service dog, Zanna, make every day a great day. Zander was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that has affected his speech and mobility. Zanna, with her long, majestic fur and loving personality, Zanna supports my son every day as he navigates his life.

Each morning, Zanna assists Zander in getting ready for school and boarding the bus, sending him off into the day. Whether they are out in the neighborhood, where Zanna taps the elevator button with her nose, or at home, where she opens the refrigerator door to grab his drink, her presence grants him newfound independence.

But the impact doesn’t stop there. Zanna’s unwavering support accompanies Zander to his medical appointments, where she keeps him grounded and motivated. Recently, he stayed calm, focusing on petting Zanna during IV placement for a sedated procedure. After the procedure, she stayed on the gurney, waiting for him to wake up. While awakening, he immediately reached for her paw and the comforting presence of his best friend.

Not only does Zanna help with Zander’s mobility and social interactions; she also motivates him to develop his strength. “It’s amazing to see Zander throw balls further each week during fetch sessions with Zanna,” Jennifer states. “It is the most motivated we have seen him when working on developing strength and mobility in his arm.”
These are just a few of the many ways in which Zanna has changed my son’s life.

Jennifer says it best: “Their bond is beautiful to behold. Life with Zanna is amazing!”