(Ashley and Danny are graduates of ICAN's 2017 Graduating Class)
What kind of qualities do you look for in a friend? A good listener, non-judgmental, gives a good hug? That’s exactly what Danny, this four-legged cutie will be doing for a Central Indiana school district.
One of the activites Danny will do with the students is encourage them to play ball with him where he pushes it to them and they will push it back.
Danny’s job will be to provide motivation and support to the special needs students. Many of those students are autistic or are living with a disability. He’ll be paired with a teacher named Ashley as he works his way through the halls to different classes. Danny will help calm the students during melt downs or sudden outbursts. He’ll be using his training to “nudge them” to interrupt repetitive behaviors such as rocking back and forth, nail biting, finger chewing, etc. “A facility dog serves as a non-judgmental companion in the process of learning and development. Danny will help with lessons teaching social skills and responsibility. He will also help students with emotional problems that interfere with school, including grief and personal crisis,” Ashley said.
Danny will also be a part of a read-to-dog program in the school. “Children not only find it fun reading to a dog,” Ashley said, “but they can do so without fear of judgment. The calmness of the dog lessens the anxiety of the child, and the child knows that they will not be criticized or laughed at for their mistakes. It’s that comfortable environment that will build the relationship between Danny and the children. “Children respond differently to dogs. Danny does not ask questions, but is the ideal listener and companion,” Ashley said.
(Left to right); Ashley and Danny; Danny and Amanda – Amanda is an ICAN handler at Indiana Women's Prison who did his training.
As Danny goes into the school year, he’s going to have a lot of new friends, meeting everyone from kindergarteners to seniors in high school. His personality will grow along with the students as they become each other’s biggest cheerleader. “Danny will provide love, friendship, and hope to my most challenging students,” Ashley said. “I cannot wait to see the wonderful things Danny will do for our schools!”