He Taught Me to Love Again
(This letter was read at ICAN's June 2016 graduation before the passing of the vest. It was written by the ICAN handler who trained Renn and was read to Shennea, who received Renn as a service dog to assist her with mobility.)
It is easy to tell you about what this wonderful animal means to me, but difficult to finally let him go. I have had Renn for almost two years now and I am still amazed at what he is capable of doing. Training was a challenge at times but hardship usually creates tighter bonds and by listening to him and figuring out his needs, I've learned how amazing he truly is.
Every morning when I am rushing around, I look in his crate to find him relaxed and looking back as if to remind me to just take it easy. When it comes to Renn there is no rushing, and I've come to be perfectly content with that. This is one of the best things I've learned from our time together – just slow down and we'll get where we're going in time.
I know this amazing dog has found a place in my heart as he has with so many others throughout his life. Everyone has felt the radiant love Renn has for them; even if it is the first time you've met he is more than happy assuming you are an old friend. That is the true beauty of a dog, everything they give you is unconditional, even if it is a dirty sock!
By far the most important thing I try to keep in mind throughout training is placement. I'm always wondering what he'll be doing, how is he going to help and am I doing my very best to prepare him for this in every way I can. With all that we have worked and trained so hard for, ICAN has selected one of his very best traits. By being such a caring and sturdy dog, Renn will be providing stability assistance for someone very important.
I do not know you personally Shennea, but I have heard nothing but absolutely amazing things. By being so driven and always challenging the assumptions, it has allowed you to face fears and free yourself so you can be and give your very best. Even when faced with seemingly Insurmountable odds, you continue to overcome and that tells me all I need to know about who you are. Like you, Renn has a huge willingness to work hard, and to succeed.
He is such a caring dog and his love for helping people goes above any normal expectations and with all the incredible things you do alongside Renn's capabilities, I am sure you'll make a great team. Unfortunately, the one thing that I didn't get to see is when the connection was first made between the two of you. I truly believe love isn't love until you can give it away and with Renn's intensity for the people he cares for most, I could only imagine what it's like when he finds someone new to pour it all on. There is no mistaking his love. There is no avoiding this big, red, slobbery dog that will be by your side for the rest of his life.
He won't care if you lose your keys, he will help you find them. It doesn't matter if you need your shoes. He will happily go and get them. Even when you're singing your favorite songs to him, I promise he will not judge you. He will be there to catch you when you stumble, and to be your rock when all else seems to be slipping away. You can put your trust in him as he will with you, and with Renn putting so much stability in my own life, it is his calling to do the same for someone new. I am happy you now have each other and it has been my true pleasure working with this amazing dog. Goodbye Renn and thank you for being such a good friend.
I would like to thank Judy Harrington and all the ICAN staff as well as my parents for believing in me. Without your support and wisdom this wouldn't be possible. To all Pendleton staff for your continued support. Finally, to Mrs. Lynn Renn, I hope we have made you proud.
With all my heart, thank you,
Richard S., ICAN Handler
Pendleton Correctional Facility/Indiana Reformatory