Being a part of the ICAN Team has made a major difference in our lives.
We were from the old school of training yanking a choke collar and a gruff NO. Training dogs in a positive manner gives a much quicker and happier response from the dogs. This in turn has given us a gentler and a more caring attitude, not only with the pups, but also towards individuals.
Jamie Young is a volunteer veterinarian with ICAN. She has whelped pups, puppy raised, and cared for the dogs in training for years. In addition to her medical knowledge, she has provided another invaluable resource to ICAN, her connection with other service dog organizations. Jamie has worked with 17 different programs across the country and enabled them to share needed resources with one another.
I joined the ICAN team in 2003 as I was beginning to serve a 40 year sentence at Rockville Correctional Facility. I had made bad choices to get where I was, but I was determined to do everything I could during that time to become a better person. When starting this new adventure I was pretty quiet and still trying to get used to my new surroundings. My self-confidence was nonexistent at the time because I was still suffering from feeling as though I had let my family down by coming to prison. The other handlers welcomed me and just being around the dogs made life seem a little better.
Tracy is a Special Education teacher at Belzer Middle School. She and her husband had always wanted a dog, but neither of them were able to be home throughout the day and they didn't want to leave a dog in a crate for so long. Everything fell into place when the principal at Tracy's school brought her a copy of the "Celebrating Our Indiana City Carmel" magazine from January of 2007. In the magazine there was an article about a facility dog in the Carmel school system. "We thought, 'If Carmel can do it, so can we,'" said Tracy.
When I became a furlough volunteer for ICAN, I was an experienced trainer. My techniques had gotten me good results in competitive obedience and I felt pretty confident in my approach. I used a combination of coercive, jerk and correct type, methods and positive reward based training. I was pretty sure this was the best and fastest way to get the message across. After all, I had just had my results confirmed by AKC judges who repeatedly placed my dog in the top four.