December 3, 2015

By Matt Werner
Courtesy of Zionsville Time Sentinel

There was food, drinks, and at least 25 people around, but Pierson sat there watching it all calmly, not lunging after guests or trying to eat everyone's food.

The 8-month-old black lab was the center of attention during a puppy shower Thursday night, December 3, at DK Pierce and Associates. The Zionsville company sponsored the dog that is being trained as a service dog by the Indiana Canine Assistance Network, and the puppy shower was an effort to raise awareness about ICAN.

DK Pierce founder Denise Pierce said she first heard about ICAN a few years ago and wanted to get involved.

"We're mad about dogs here," she said. "Our whole company is also about helping people access healthcare and assistance. We thought (ICAN) is just the perfect balance for what we do.
ICAN Executive Director Jillian Miller said the organization has been around for 13 years but is wanting to expand throughout all of Indiana.

"It's great to be in partnerships with businesses like DK Pierce," Miller said. "It's a game-changer. Obviously it helps financially since we are a not-for-profit, but something like a puppy shower is an event where we can really share our mission and spread our name out there."
Miller said the organization has volunteers who help train the puppies, but to get their full training, the dogs are matched with inmates at the Indiana Women's Prison and Pendleton Correctional Facility.

"It's really wonderful to see the impact the dogs make on the inmates lives," she said. "The dogs are with them 24/7; they sleep next to them."
Miller said it takes a dog two years to be fully trained, and it will typically learn up to 60 commands such as touch, tug, turning lights on or off, bracing to allow people to get in and out of wheelchairs and more.

ICAN volunteer Beth Edwards has been the one training Pierson so far and calls herself the "reinforcer."

"I work on his ability to stay calm through certain things he might not normally see," she said. "I have two boys, and if the boys are up and running around, I make sure he stays calm. If they are throwing their toys around, I make sure he doesn't chase after them."

Edwards said once Pierson gets to be 18 months, they will assess his skills and match him with a person who may need the assistance of a service dog.

"We work with clients who have mobility problems, diabetic problems, PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and pretty much everything in between," Miller said.

Pierce said they are proud of how well Pierson has been doing.

"It is like having a child," she said. We're all so proud to see him developing. I know it'll be sad when he graduates, but I can't wait to see the impact it'll have on that person's life."

November 12, 2015



November 3, 2015

The works of the artists in residence at the Indiana Women's Prison were warmly received at their first gallery exhibit in Zionsville. Graciously hosted at Avalon Jewelry and Pens, 275 S. Main Street, the month-long exhibit kicked off at the First Friday event during the month of July.

About 75 canvases painted by ICAN dogs and their handlers were hung at the Zionsville store and, on First Friday — which was attended by four of the star abstract artists Renn, Maize, Ogie and Senna — about 25 pieces sold, along with note cards and ICAN bracelets. But, that's only part of the story.

The dog art project was spearheaded by Shirl Henderson, Annie Jansons and Joni Kahn who donated much time and materials to the showing. Over 200 paintings were completed at the Indiana Women's Prison to get ready for the Avalon exhibit.

Artist, Senna, admiring some of her work with volunteers Annie & Sandy.

The opportunity at Avalon Jewelry, which features different artists' work each month, came about when owner Susan Schube had a cancellation and offered the space to ICAN. She and her assistant Darla Aniline hung all the art, hosted the First Friday event. Each Saturday in July, ICAN furloughers and dogs greeted the customers at the store coinciding with the Downtown Zionsville Farmers Market. The opening of the exhibit had nearly 100 guests and sales were steady throughout the month.



Each work of art was personally paw stamped by the dog and labeled with the name and photo of the artist and his/her handler taken by ICAN 's volunteer photographer, Liz Kaye. Each piece of artwork had a dog bone-shaped price tag and were priced by size: 8×10 – $50; 9×12 – $75; 11×14 and 12×12 – $100; and 16×20- $150. Many of the people who bought artwork also made an additional contribution to the program, including one check written for $300 to pay for a $150 canvas!

Artist, Ogie, with a few of his masterpieces.

As with all ICAN stories, there is a warm and fuzzy part and this time it involves Avalon Jewelry owner Susan Schube. She is a friend of Annie Jansons, and Rene and her son Kendall who received an ICAN service dog named Clare. Susan said her goal during the month was to honor her late husband by raising enough money from the exhibit to support placements, preferably one who was a former member of the military. That goal was accomplished in the first night! In all, Susan's gift to ICAN will assist in helping place several dogs with new clients. Hat's off to Susan, Darla, Shirl, Annie and Joni for giving graciously your time, support and donations, and making the showing a huge success!

Next time you are in Zionsville, drop by Avalon Jewelry and thank Susan and Darla for their incredible support!

Check out more photos from Avalon Jewelers (Compliments of Liz Kaye Photography).





July 14, 2015

INDIANPOLIS – PetSmart is continuing their support of “Tuck,” a one-year-old Golden Retrieiver that is being trained to be a service dog. As the only accredited service dog training program in Indiana, the Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN) trains and  places assistance dogs with children and adults with disabilities, while providing life and job skills to inmates who train the dogs for service work inside Indiana correctional facilities.

With PetSmart’s charitable gift, ICAN will be able to cover the medical expenses of Tuck during his final year of training. 

“PetSmart is making an impact for someone living with a disability and we are so grateful for the support,” said Jillian McHenry Miller, executive director of ICAN. “Together we are bringing hope to people in need, and I believe hope changes everything!”

Tuck making an appearance with regional manager, Tammy Fiske and her Petsmart team.

PetSmart will provide this charitable donation through its PetSmart Gives Back initiative. This initiative focuses on giving back to local communities throughout the nation in support of organizations that enrich people’s lives through the power of pets.

“We know pets enrich our lives every day,” said Tammy Fiske, PetSmart district manager. “My team is  proud to partner with Tuck and the larger ICAN organization in an effort to help more people heal through the power of pets.”


June 2, 2015

Courtesy of Bloomington Herald Times, Editorial Column

The Court Appointed Special Advocates program in Monroe County has helped numerous children through the potential trauma of the court-system in a number of ways. Soon it will add another strong helper for children: a dog.

As reported in Mondays H-T, the Monroe County Board of Judges last month unanimously approved Monroe County CASA260136s idea of purchasing a courthouse dog to use in its advocacy work. Like in jurisdictions that already have such animals, the dogs role will be to help calm anxieties and reduce stress for victims and witnesses who aren17424413t used to being in court. The justice system can be much less scary for children if they know they will get to see a canine friend when they go to court.

These children often need a friend, which they also get through their human CASA. The whole idea of CASA volunteers is to be there and advocate for abused and neglected children whose parents cannot or will not take care of them. The court proceedings can involve a lot of different people and a lot of thoughts and ideas difficult for a child to understand. The CASA volunteer is designed to be a constant presence in the lives of these children.

CASA volunteers go through significant training so they can advocate properly. They meet with the child monthly, attend court hearings, and talk with case managers, parents and foster parents and other adults that suddenly are in the childs life.

According to the Monroe County CASA website, the organization in 2013 helped 247 children who were abused or neglected. The volunteer efforts made a huge difference in the lives of the children, but those who have been CASA volunteers also talk about how beneficial the experience is for them.

A lot of training will occur before a courthouse dog joins the program. The dog that comes to Monroe County will be trained through the Indiana Canine Assistant Network, the states only Assistance Dogs International-accredited dog training nonprofit. Once fully trained, the dog brought to the Justice Building will be able to be a friendly, calming influence on children going through a very difficult time. The canine friend will also help de-stress the people who work in what can also be the tense environment of the court system.

The person-dog bond can be very powerful. Cheryl Polarek, a deputy prosecuting attorney in Porter County, described the courthouse dog she partners with this way: Tony has such a loving and gentle nature and cant seem to get close enough to the people around him. He is naturally drawn to children and they are drawn to him.417424 That kind of bond will help children deal with the issues for which they must go to the court.

Were confident this program, and a dog like Tony, will be of significant benefit to Monroe County.