Don and Iggy

Genesis Assistance Dogs, Inc. is so very pleased with the match made between Don Chester and Iggy! Don, whose name and face is known to many in the West Palm Beach area, is the Assistant Hospital Administrator at St. Mary’s Medical Center.  Don is a friendly, knowledgeable and interesting individual who has never met a stranger.  Don is also a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down; the result of being hit by a car as he was training for a triathlon in 2004.

With extraordinary tenacity, the support of his wife, Sally, and the St. Mary Medical Center team of doctors, nurses and clinicians, Don fought back to regain his life.  Part of his healing and the ability to return to work was the result of Don being paired with Polly, a service dog who accompanied him everywhere he went. Polly was able to retrieve, open doors, turn on lights, things that Don had been able to do for himself prior to the accident. She was as well known and loved in the hospital as Don.

Polly worked with Don for over 10 years, serving faithfully. When Don applied to Genesis Assistance Dogs, Inc. he knew that Polly was coming close to the age of retirement in the next few years.  It’s a painful realization that a faithful and loving service dog is getting too old to perform his/her daily functions to the best of their ability. Don was approved as a potential client and placed on our waiting list.

Enter Iggy, the amazing, inquisitive, handsome and energetic Golden Retriever. As we watched Iggy grow and learn with his trainer, Jen Bielen, and his puppy raising family, it was decided that Iggy might be the perfect match for Don. Genesis Assistance Dogs, Inc. began bringing Iggy to St. Mary’s to observe his reaction to the commotion of the ER, the arrival of a medical chopper and other scenarios that would arrive if we were to be paired with Don. Iggy never batted an eyelash and took everything in his stride.  He and Don got along famously from their first meeting. We were certain that this would be the ideal match.

This dynamic duo worked hard together to build their trust in one another under the supervision of Jen Bielen and Sally. It didn’t take long before Iggy was accepting commands and providing all important assistance to Don with consistency. A bond that cannot be broken was formed.

These days, Don and Iggy can often be seen traveling the halls of St. Mary’s Medical Center and work together as a well-oiled machine. The staff has fallen head over heals in love with Iggy and there are dog treats designated for his visits to the nurse’s stations. Don has come to depend on Iggy and tells us he is very happy to have been paired with this fabulous Genesis Assistance Dog.