by Vanessa, ICAN Handler, Indiana Women's Prison
Walter will be graduating in December and will be placed with a young teen named Julie who lives with Down Syndrome.
My name is Vanessa. I have been a trainer in the ICAN program for almost 3 years. The dog that I am currently training is Walter. When I sat down to write this I found it hard because it’s difficult to find the right words to explain how I feel when I think about the opportunity ICAN has given me when they gave me this amazing dog. Walter has defined the word” hope” for me. He is the first dog that I have trained from the very beginning to graduation.
At first I was discouraged because, well if you know Walter you know that he isn’t very motivated to work, or even move for that matter. My personality is very high energy and I am always on the go, so it was challenging for me at first because in order for him to succeed I had some changes that I needed to make. I had to find a way to just slow down and try to match his speed. Funny how when you are moving so fast you miss so much but then you slow down you are able to see and appreciate the beauty in things. Training this incredible dog has opened up all of that for me.
Walter has helped me overcome so much and has taught me how to appreciate the beauty in things. All of the things that I have learned have carried over into all aspects of my life. My confidence has soured and I can relax and stay calm when I normally could not. Hope is defined as a promise for a better future. With the training and character building skills that ICAN has provided for me I can now say that my future looks promising not only for me but more importantly for the future of my children.
Thank you ICAN.