Our Blog

November 13, 2015

A Letter to Renn, an ICAN Pup in Training

Dear Renn,

My husband Perry Renn was a police officer who died in the line of duty less than two months before you were born.  He served the community for over 20 years and was very dedicated with a strong work ethic and desire to serve.  For his long service and final sacrifice, the community has honored him by showing their gratitude in several ways, and while every one of those honors is greatly appreciated, you being named after him is extra meaningful because Perry LOVED dogs.  He would get a kick out of any dog being named after him, but how wonderful that you, an ICAN dog, will carry on his dedication to serving others.

There are so many that have great hope for you, and that have or are working very hard to help you succeed. 

You inherited the best traits from each of your parents.  Jaime, your Golden Retriever mother, gave you her calm disposition, sensitivity, empathy and laser-like focus.  Forest, your Labrador Retriever father, gave you his work ethic, adaptability, honesty and handsome looks.

Your training started at birth with Dr. Jamie Young and Nancy whelping you; getting you used to human smell and touch.  This was critical to get you ready for the next two years of your life in training to be an ICAN service dog.

At three weeks, you went with your mother and littermates – Bandit, Brody, Emma, Esther, Maizie and Sandy – to the Indiana Women's Prison for puppy socialization until you were ready for a puppy starter home.

As a furlough volunteer for ICAN, Judy took you into her home and began your puppy training.  Judy and you made such great progress that you started at 10 weeks old practicing being a service dog by visiting students in a special needs class at Zionsville High School, patients being treated for drug and alcohol addiction at Fairbanks Hospital, patients at nursing homes and people seeking shelter at the Julian Center. 

You are a natural at healing and bringing joy to people.  For those of us missing Perry, you helped bring some comfort and laughs with your visits to my home, my office, IMPD North District (where you melted many police officers' hearts), my spin class (where you showed how well you handle new experiences by sleeping thru the loud music), a very busy and noisy bowling alley, and various other locations requested by my family and friends. 

I was lucky to be paired with you and Judy for Puppy Love Valentine deliveries.  You did an outstanding job of delivering your love and being an ambassador for ICAN by wowing everyone you met with your excellent behavior and skills at just 6 months old!

For most of this year, you have been at Pendleton Correctional Facility where Richard is doing a fantastic job of continuing your training.  The progress the two of you have made has been amazing.  You already know all the level 1 and 2 cues – that's around 40 cues!

You are so lucky to have Judy and Beth work with you during your furloughs to reinforce what Richard has taught you.  You get to practice your new skills in new environments while others get to benefit from you too.  Beth took you to work with her at Community Rehabilitation Hospital where you helped patients get through the hardest time of their lives by encouraging them as they endure intensive physical therapy. This gave you a glimpse into the future as a service dog- how your unending focus and work ethic will one day create independence for someone who can't do it alone.

While we remembered Perry at some services this summer, Beth brought you to give us some comfort and get us to smile – just what we needed.  You have an innate ability to know who needs you the most.

Our hope for you is to have great success as a service dog and enjoy the rewards of serving as much as Perry did.  Perry most of all would want you to take time to have the adventures of being a dog – play, be goofy, roll around and get dirty and anything else you love to do.  Thank you for all the good things you have brought to us and for continuing to make everyone you encounter happy by just being you.