A Hero Raised by an Angel in Disguise
"It's a beautiful day and the sun is shining.
But, he sits alone, a little boy in the dark.
His mind is something he can't control
He is up all night, he can't settle down to sleep
His mind is like a prison."
Words written by the mother of our client Yeahsen – a twelve year old boy who is profoundly deaf and has autism. Last June, Yeahsen was placed with a beautiful service dog named Harmony.
''It's a beautiful day and the sun is shining.
She has to get up earlier than everyone else, there's a puppy that needs her.
She does the hard work, she has the patience.
She has the hope that someday, this puppy will be a Hero.
She is our Angel in Disguise.''
Shannon, Harmony's trainer, understands Yeahsen journey. She has said, "In many ways, the prison I live in is no different than the one he lives in. We both have lost our freedom. We are secluded, we feel helpless and worthless, we live in constant fear and uncertainty…but when I was able to provide Yeahsen with Harmony – knowing she was going to help him and provide unconditional love – that hope begins to break down all those walls. For him and for me as well." Shannon is Yeahsen's Angel in Disguise.
Before Harmony appeared in Yeahsen's world, he would not go outside to play. In desperation his mother would physically carry him outdoors, only for him to turn around and run back inside. Her heart would break as she was unsure how to give her little boy some normalcy. Unsure how to release him from his prison of fear and uncertainty.
A few weeks after Harmony's arrival, Yeahsen declared after dinner, "It's time to take Harmony for her walk!" Elated his parents quickly gathered shoes and leashes not to miss the opportunity. The walk led to a small playground where two neighborhood boys were playing. Normally, Yeahsen would not stop to play if others kids were there, but this particular night he felt brave.
His parents were amazed by this new confidence. As they approached, Harmony also seemed more energetic and ready to go. Once off her leash Harmony immediately ran for the playground. Ears flapping, tail wagging she didn't miss a beat. She ran up the slide, over the bridge and to the very top of the playground equipment. Yeahsen stood there watching his dog. Smiling ear to ear. All of a sudden he followed Harmony's lead, taking the same exact steps to the top of the playground. Together they stood side by side. His parents were in awe. The neighborhood boys, who would not acknowledge Yeahsen's presence beforehand, came running over and breathlessly asked, "Hey, how did you teach your dog to do that?" Yeahsen proudly answered, "This is Harmony!" It was such a normal, typical, everyday interaction, but not for a little boy who often was dismissed by his peers. Today he had something to offer, something "cool" to be enjoyed. Yeashen knew these boys assumed he trained his dog and he had the ability to do it. He swelled with delight. How incredible – a simple walk around a neighborhood block could capture how an ICAN service dog can help a little boy authentically experience the world around him.
It's a beautiful day and the sun is shining.
He hears the neighborhood boys playing outside.
He watches them from inside the house, playing ball and riding bikes
He quietly calls, 'Hi friends'' a voice that only his mother can hear.
Too scared to approach, too awkward and clumsy to join the game.
But, now, he has a Hero, and he is going to find a way.
His Hero has the strength, she will never leave him, she will never judge him,
She will always be there for him.
Our Angel in Disguise trained a Hero for him.
ICAN Brings Hope.
A young boy's life is forever changed. Barriers are removed. Hope renewed.
An incarcerated women's life forever changed. Stereotypes removed. Hope renewed.
ICAN currently has 70 people waiting for their world to be forever changed by a service dog. You making a gift today will help someone living with a disability experience the world in a brand new way.
We cannot continue our work of providing hope without your help. ICAN, YOU CAN, WE CAN bring hope. Become a part of the ICAN team today. Please Donate Now. Help us raise $25,000 before 2015!
Here's to hope,
Jillian McHenry Miller
Handler Shannon, Yeahsen & Harmony with Mom and Dad
All photos by Liz Kaye Photography