ICAN helped me "man up." What I thought a man was, was a twisted and tainted view from years of criminal mind set and alcohol and drug addiction which in turn fueled my in and out of lock up lifestyle since a youth. Being physically, emotionally, and mentally abused as a youngster confused me and distorted my ability to love and be loved correctly. In the process I lacked in the area of communication and expression to others and myself. These behaviors went from the home to the streets. Thus began years of pain and disregard for many people including myself.
Hello, my name is Dustin. The way I see it, everything happens for one purpose or another. When I was a child I wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor when I grew up. I never thought that a dog would change my life so drastically that I would want to make a career out of training dogs for service. A dog did change my life, his name is Ogie.
"To be able to put a furry little friend's well being, growth and happiness before your own - Oh, how it's worth it - for such dedication is the door to our own happiness.'' - R. Simmons
Going from a tenth grade education to earning a bachelor's degree, I have realized and cannot stress enough how important a formal education is. But, of all the education classes and programs I have completed, I can tell you that the ICAN program has been the most rewarding to me.
I came to prison broken, with the lowest of self-esteem and full of shame. Now, I am more confident, trustworthy and most of all I feel good about myself. Today, because of ICAN and these dogs, I am ready to go home and be part of the real world.
ICAN took me down a new road that I did not see coming - it filled my life with a light I never knew existed. As I trained dogs and help others gain a tremendous amount of confidence, my self-esteem grew and I now know I am worth something. The clients trust me to help change their lives and their children's lives, which has given me a sense of purpose.
I would not change my experience with ICAN for the world. I learned more about dogs than I could ever have imagined. But more than that, I learned more about myself than I could ever have imagined.
All I've ever known since I was 20 is the penitentiary. I had never truly challenged myself. Prison doesn't in of itself, rehabilitate people. One can, as I had, do the absolute bare minimum.
I know when I was not incarcerated everything was moving so fast. I never slowed down enough to realize the true unconditional love that was in my life.
I didn't know what trust was and it took a dog to teach me about it. Nina, a beautiful black lab was the first dog that I had trained, not to say I was any good at it. I had a lot to learn about her and about myself. And, I had to learn about trust.