By Handler R. Simmons , Pendleton Correctional Facility/Indiana Reformatory
''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
This wonderful dog I will be talking about is named Renn. These are some training as well as personal thoughts I am sharing with you. Renn is such a unique dog in so many different ways. When I first received him, I started out by spending a week or so just bonding with him. I knew right away he was going to be something special. As the weeks went by, I assessed his behaviors and strengths as well as his weaknesses. As I started the training process I worked eye contact, as well as name association. I also did lots of body handling, brushing, nail trimming and other things for desensitization. The time spent, especially at first, lets the dog know that all good things come through you, and with consistency and persistence all the behaviors come together pretty quickly.
Renn was just a little guy not much over 25 lbs when he first arrived, but I had big plans for him. Now that Renn is almost 70lbs and so incredibly smart, I am just amazed by what he is capable of doing. With some encouragement and reinforcement, we can make it through any situation. I have set my expectations pretty high from day one and Renn has exceeded all of them. I always try to plan our training schedule because if you don't have an idea of what you intend to accomplish, there's simply no way to be effective.
I believe you are defined by the goals you set. So every result you achieve can only be measured by your expectations and standards. I have come to see that shortcuts will only weaken your drive, and will never produce the long term results that you want and need. To be a successful trainer, it must require real effort as well as sacrifice. 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. What would we do without the pull of such relationships that help us get outside ourselves as well as helping us to become equal to our genuine potential? ICAN has helped me not forget what life is really about, the good things, and making great memories along the way.
When it comes to the perpetual importance of this program, it gives you so much internal drive that you want to do for others, more than yourself. That is what we are doing. As a team, Renn and I are working to change someone's life. I am passing on an unconditional relationship that someone, somewhere so desperately needs. I know this program has changed my life and it has become my true pleasure to help change someone else's. Thank you.