In the heart of the busy hallways of Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation is Freddy, the Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN) facility service dog.
Before getting Freddy, Superintendent Jediah Behny and Student Interventionist Jennifer Veach meticulously planned how he would integrate into the district.
They also spent several days learning from ICAN’s incarcerated handlers before bringing Freddy to school. To them, this was one of the most impactful experiences.
Both Mr. Behny and Miss Veach explained how their initial focus going into the Indiana Women’s Prison was solely on Freddy. Once they entered the doors, they were surprised by the love and professionalism that the women have for their dogs.
“We always make it a point to share every part of Freddy’s story, even with the students. The incarcerated women should be proud of their work,” both said.
Freddy lives with Mr. Behny and his family and works with Miss Veach, so Monday through Thursday, he gets dropped off for school in the car rider line at Knightstown Elementary, greeting the students as they arrive. On Friday, better known as “Freddy Friday,” he spends the day at Knightstown High School.
Freddy has a huge presence in the schools, so it is important that students know to respect his space. The elementary students created a one-finger wave as their way to quietly say hello to Freddy in the hallway. The special wave prompts him to wag his tail – Freddy’s way of greeting the students back.
Freddy is not your typical teacher or staff member. He can walk into any classroom and immediately know which student needs his attention the most.
“Freddy is 100% accurate. It’s amazing to watch,” said Mr. Behny.
He is also skilled at keeping himself safe in situations where a student is struggling to control themselves. Freddy naturally knows how to keep his distance until the student is ready to accept help safely.
He rests his head on students’ laps and is trained to interrupt students who have their head in their hands, crying. He does this by nudging their hands, prompting the student to pet him instead.
Not only has Freddy made an incredible impact on thousands of students in the district, he has also helped many staff members.
“To us, Freddy is just as important as the curriculum. What he brings to the table is unlike anything any of us can do. He’s a game changer,” said Miss Veach.
You can help support facility dogs like Freddy. Learn more at icandog.org.