Profile in Courage

Name: Igor Kirkopolo
Lives: Netanya
Work: Currently unemployed
Status: Widower. Lives alone.
Education: Studying computers for career as data researcher
Hobbies: Dancing; plays the accordion
Partner: Apollo, male, Yellow Lab

Not many people get second chances at life. Igor’s came in the form of Apollo, his four-legged friend.

Originally from the Ukraine, Igor made Aliyah in 1996 with his wife and two children. In Russia, he worked as a diesel mechanic. But, after arriving in Israel, he started to lose his sight due to retinitis pigmentosa and could no longer practice his trade.

As Igor’s sight deteriorated, he developed mobility issues. “I realized I could no longer walk safely by myself,” he told us. “But I wanted to maintain my independence, so I investigated partnering with a guide dog.”

Because of Covid, Igor was trained in a home course in June 2021. He developed an immediate connection with Apollo—his first guide dog. It would become much stronger when Igor’s life hung in the balance.

At a train station, Igor suddenly had a heart attack. Apollo sensed something was wrong, and led Igor to someone in uniform, and first responders used a defibrillator to save his life. “Apollo led me to the right place and the right people, so I could get the proper attention.” Igor spent a week in the hospital to rehabilitate. “Apollo’s companionship facilitated my healing process—I owe him a lot”

Today, Igor, in his late 50’s, is totally blind. But he and Apollo spend all their time together. They have a daily routine that includes a 40-minute walk for exercise when it cools off in the evenings. Igor also lifts light weights for conditioning and stretches to maintain flexibility.

“I don’t like to sit too much” he confides to us. “I have to keep moving so I can participate in ballroom, salsa, and folk dancing. It was a miracle I survived the heart attack. I guess it wasn’t my time yet, so I’m going to make the most of my second chance.

“Thank you, Apollo—and the people at the station—and Israel Guide Dog Center’s donors—for being the miracles that saved my life.”

Just one of the amazing stories of courage from our many clients at the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind, who have gained independence and freedom of movement through the use of a Guide Dog.
Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind, 968 Easton Rd. – Suite H, Warrington, PA 18976
Tel: 215-343-9100 www.israelguidedog.org E-mail: [email protected]