Dino and another ICAN pup
at Belzer Middle School
This is a follow up story about Tracy and ICAN facility dog, Dino, since his placement in 2010.
Tracy is a Special Education teacher at Belzer Middle School. She and her husband had always wanted a dog, but neither of them were able to be home throughout the day and they didn't want to leave a dog in a crate for so long. Everything fell into place when the principal at Tracy's school brought her a copy of the "Celebrating Our Indiana City Carmel" magazine from January of 2007. In the magazine there was an article about a facility dog in the Carmel school system. "We thought, 'If Carmel can do it, so can we,'" said Tracy. Dino's first day at school was in November of 2010.
|Dino's first time in the snow|
Since coming to the school, Dino has become something of a celebrity, and with good reason. His presence in the room can completely change the atmosphere and helps many students keep their cool when things start to escalate. One day there was a fight taking place outside of Tracy's classroom door. Her students all ran out both to watch the fight and get involved. Not wanting Dino to get hurt in the scuffle, Tracy handed Dino off to one of her students and told them to take Dino away from the fight. Every one of her students took Dino back into their classroom, and none of them got involved in the fight. "Once Dino stood between two very angry students and barked. Another time I handed his leash to a girl who was getting ready to punch another girl. Both times the fight was avoided because Dino was there," said Tracy.
Stopping fights in the hallway was not what Tracy originally had in mind when she applied for a facility dog. "I thought we would use him to calm students in the special education setting, but I discovered that strategy was not safe for him. I had expectations for Dino in school, but most of them did not happen." While things may not have gone as she originally planned, Tracy still loves to see the work that Dino is doing in the school. Since safety was an issue when trying to calm some students, he's now used as a reward once students have calmed down themselves or for good behavior.
|Dino and Tracy at team training|
"Kids often ask what I teach so they can be in my room, meaning Dino's room," said Tracy. Students stop by her room daily to see Dino during their passing periods and will greet him like a friend if they cross paths in the hallway. They say goodbye when they leave for the day and ask if he can come watch them at their athletic or music events. "Some notice and greet me, but many only acknowledge Dino. I think it is hilarious." Seeing that Dino could really do a lot of good outside of her classroom, Tracy began Dino's Club during his 2nd year at school. This allowed even more students to have access to him, especially those who needed him the most. "Dino has been a natural intervention for many students who just need to be noticed," Tracy said when describing what Dino's Club does. They even have their own website. Bringing Dino to the school may not have turned out exactly as Tracy had imagined it would, but everything he has done has been exactly what their school needed.
To visit the Dino's Club website, click here.
To read more stories about clients who have had their lived changed through a service dog, click here.