Zara and Alohi

child and adult with Canine Companions service dog

When 8-year-old Zara was matched with Skilled Companion Alohi, she was thrilled to learn that in Hawaiian, “Alohi” means brilliant and shining. These words apply to both members of this incredible new team. Enthusiastic and friendly, Zara enjoys dance, theater and spending time with friends.

When Zara was born, she had a stroke that affected her mobility and motor skills. Although she has attended physical therapy almost every day for much of her life, Alohi engages Zara in therapy in a new, exciting way. For example, kicking a ball has been a physical therapy goal for Zara for two and a half years. During Team Training at Canine Companions, the students played “soccer” with their dogs and Zara kicked the soccer ball to Alohi. Zara’s mom Selia says, “That was my moment of clarity that made me understand why we were there.”

“Alohi’s really gotten into the rhythm of our family since they were matched,” says Selia. Selia explains that Zara is now more motivated to walk, which is extremely important for her mobility. Walking has become less of a chore and more of a pleasure. “Alohi knows exactly when she’s working. Whenever she walks with Zara, she slows down to match Zara’s pace.”

Whether Zara is throwing Alohi a tennis ball in the backyard or walking together in the neighborhood, Alohi allows Zara to be a kid. This adorable new team embodies the meaning of the Hawaiian word, “Alohi” — they couldn’t be more brilliant and shining.