About Tess

Tess, a sweet, gentle, and loving mixed-breed rescue dog, first began assisting clientele at Skills 4 Life in 2015. Tess was invited to an initial meet and greet with a 5-year-old student who was working on handwriting skills. This meeting quickly turned into numerous office visits that had Tess, the children, and their parents begging for more interaction time.

Karina Black, Skills 4 Life founder, and Tess’s guardian, recognized Tess’s natural compatibility with the children and teens she serves soon after she was adopted. From the start Tess was a natural at providing her own style of therapy in interacting with kids. She is terrific at helping students self-regulate. She can be calm when needed, energizing when required, is a good listener, and also knows when it’s time for sleeping on the job.  After a couple months of shadowing Karina during therapy sessions, Tess shared that she was ready to take the next step in her career and become a registered therapy dog through Therapy Dog International. This wasn’t easy for Tess, but she willingly took on the challenge and trained for months with Karina.

Becoming a registered therapy dog was a milestone moment for Tess and Karina, as well as the clientele that visit Skills 4 Life for their occupational therapy needs. As an official therapy dog, Tess now works her day job at Skills 4 Life and volunteers at a local nursing home and as a “Tail Waggin’ Tutor” at the Western Institute for Neurodevelopmental Studies and Interventions, where Karina served as OT Director prior to starting her private practice.

Visitors can find Tess at the Skills 4 Life office with a big smile, positive energy, and lots of support for the children and teens diligently practicing their handwriting, keyboarding, and executive function skills.  She’s usually parked in her favorite spot in the corner office!