In 2021, Indiana University freshman Sidney May was exploring the student involvement fair and looking for ways to make friends and to become more connected to campus. It was during the fair that she looked down to find an Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN) dog lying at her feet.
This encounter sparked Sidney’s interest and led her to join the ICAN at IU club. Soon after becoming a dedicated member, in the spring of her freshman year, Sidney furloughed her first in-training dog, Docket.
That experience was a bit of a challenge since I lived in a small dorm with a roommate,” Sidney explained. “But I learned so much!”
Despite the difficulty, Sidney found the experience life-changing and has since furloughed seven in training dogs through ICAN at IU.
Now in her junior year and living off-campus, Sidney is the ICAN at IU Outreach and Education Coordinator, pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education. She dreams of eventually applying for a graduate Facility Dog to continue changing lives.
Sidney’s commitment to ICAN didn’t stop on IU’s campus; it traveled home with her during holiday breaks. During a visit home, Sidney brought her in training dog to her grandmother, Marquita Kelly’s, house.
At the time, Marquita’s husband had recently passed, and she felt a little lost. She built up the nerve to ask Sidney if she could also volunteer.
“I was really looking for purpose. And ICAN’s mission gave me that,” explained Marquita.
Supporting ICAN became a family experience. Marquita and Sidney bounced ideas off each other, watched each other’s dogs, and supported each other.
“It’s nice to stay connected with each other in a new way that we haven’t before. It gives us something new to share together,” said Sidney.
Sidney explains that her involvement in ICAN at IU has allowed her to share a passion for giving with others.
“From helping the incarcerated trainers develop life skills, to the client that receives a service dog, to something as small as helping my grandma work through behaviors with her dog,” Sidney said, “ICAN is a constant giving loop.”
You too can make a difference in the lives of Hoosiers by training a dog for someone in need. If you’d like to help unleash possibilities, contact ICAN Volunteer and Education Manager Julie Mathias at email@example.com.