Disability Awareness Month

March is National Disability Awareness Month and here at ICAN we know the importance of advocating for rights for all people and empowering others to live more enriched, independent lives. To celebrate the inclusion of all people, we are sharing some stories from ICAN clients about how being paired with a service dog has changed their life and the lives of those around them.

Tracy and Dino

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.

To read more about how Dino has impacted the lives of students, click here.

8 Misconceptions About Therapy, Service, and Support Animals

Article in Psychology Today

By Hal Herzog Ph.D.

Misunderstandings concerning the laws governing assistance animals are certainly understandable. That’s because federal regulations pertaining to service and support animals are a morass of confusion.

To read more from this article and learn about some common misconceptions, click here.

Greg and Chip

Disability Awareness Month has had a large impact on Greg’s life. It was during an event meant to spread awareness that their family first learned that a service dog could be a possible fir for their family. Greg received Chip from ICAN in 2008, but this placement was not exactly typical. Greg has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and needed a service dog that was steady and could help him stay mobile as long as possible. Throughout training, Chip had always been a very energetic, rambunctious dog. Greg had the opportunity to interact with Chip and loved him.

To read more about how Greg and Chip found their perfect match, click here.

How Herbie and Other Trained Dogs Help Humans with Limited Mobility

Article in Bloom Magazine

By Barb Berggoetz

Herbie pulls Jenelle Dorner’s wheelchair. She braces herself on the black lab’s back to help her stand. She holds his harness for steadiness on short walks. When she points to an object, he brings it to her.

For four years, Herbie has been the Bloomington woman’s crutch, her support, and her faithful companion. The 6-year-old service dog, provided by the Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN), has made her life inestimably easier and safer. Dorner deals with muscle weakness, fatigue, seizures, and other chronic symptoms caused by mitochondrial disease, a progressive movement disorder.

To read more about about Janelle and Herbie, and other service dogs like him, click here.

Kristine and Séamus

“When people ask, “What does it mean for you to have Séamus?” it is really hard for me to answer that effectively with words. Yes, he makes me more independent; he helps me balance and walk; he helps me picked up dropped items; he helps Michael cope which in turns helps relieve my stress. But to explain what Séamus means to me is like me trying to describe how breathing impacts my life. Breathing just is. Yet it’s everything. And that is in an essence Séamus.”


To read more about Kristine and Séamus, click here.

Service Dog Etiquette

When you see a service dog out with their handler who has a disability, it means they are working. Even if the dog is sitting or lying down they are still on the job and need to be responsive to their handler. Distracting the dog with food, toys, or by petting them can even be dangerous for their handler who depends on them to be ready and fully focused on them.

To learn more about how to respond to service dogs in public, click here.

Courtney and Bodhi

Ever since I have become a teacher, I have wanted a therapy dog. I had researched how beneficial a dog can be in the class and it seemed perfect when I heard about ICAN through my sister. She had a friend whose husband received a dog through the organization. I went to a presentation at the Indiana Women’s Prison with my sister and her friend and knew that this was a wonderful organization. I then applied for a facility dog and Bodhi joined our family in March of 2010.

To read more about how Bodhi affected her classroom, click here.