What’s in a Name?

What's in a name? I believe every dog in the ICAN program should have the middle name of "Grace" – as these dogs are underserved blessings to us all – to the people who raise them, to those who train them, to the families receiving them, and to the community engaging with them. They simply come into our lives and transform everything. Because of them we see the world differently. We perceived others more openly, we operate more intentionally, and most importantly – we learn to become our best self.  We are more "dog-like". We learn to fully embrace joy, offer empathy, consider self-value, welcome companionship and experience true love – and love can change everything!


Left to Right: Aaron, Allan & Stacy; Noah, Kassie & Koontz

Two ICAN dogs, Koontz & Allan, are true examples of love in our communities. Koontz was named in memory of Howard County Deputy Carl Koontz and Allan was named in memory of Southport Police Officer Lt. Aaron Allan. Both of these men were killed in the line of duty as they served their communities. Koontz and Allan have brought healing and hope to the family and friends that loved them, and to a community that mourns them. They have brought confidence, compassion and joy to the inmate handlers training them; and soon, they will bring hope and independence to a child or an adult living with a disability.


Throughout the community, the name of one of our dogs can open up an entire dialogue, speak a favorable memory, heal a hurt or provide comfort. ''We have a connection with Koontz that's indescribable, like he knows our story.''  Kassie Koontz shared with us. ''Koontz has given us hope that our hero, my husband, lives on thru ICAN. Koontz gives us hope knowing he is helping someone in need just like the person that he is named after – Deputy Carl Koontz.''

We currently have 83 people waiting for a service dog from ICAN. As more people with paralysis and other disabilities become familiar with the life-changing benefits of a service dog, they are reaching out to ICAN for help – and we want to serve them well. I personally ask you to consider helping those that are waiting. A year-end gift will guarantee more clients can be placed with their forever companion.



The intense level of training, veterinary care, life-time follow up, equipment and supplies required to train one service dog currently costs ICAN $25,000. Clients pay $1,600. Through a strong volunteer network, our prison training program, and your annual or monthly donation is how we are able to mitigate this gap. 




John and his family came to us after John's stroke. He was hopeless. He was frustrated. He was grieving. Then came along Hunter – a loving, yellow Labrador that was prepared to assist him with mobility and suddenly, John's life completely transformed. "Hunter has really helped me to deal with the things I had to give up.'' John said. ''I loved music so much and I loved being a photographer. When I got Hunter he helped show me that my life could still having meaning…he just fills in all of those things I lost and he's able to give me a reason to be excited about keep going.''



John & Hunter

And what's in a name? Hunter was named after a fallen firefighter, Craig Hunt, who died fighting a fire in Yosemite National park. When John received Hunter, Craig's sister shared with us, ''In all its sadness, comes beauty. Two lives suffer a tragedy and one was lost in service, while anotheris forever changed. Then comes a dog named ''Hunter'' who gives back what was ''lost'' for one, a new fulfilling life of HOPE, for another.''

Help us give a reason to be excited for the 83 people waiting. We are committed to work hard to provide the life-changing gift of an assistance dog. But we need you.

Your year-end gift of $150 or more will guarantee more people like John can be restored. And you may have a desire to name your own dog in honor, or in celebration of someone you love. During this holiday season, it may be a wonderful gift to provide to another.

Our vision is to have our clients unleash new possibilities. Come join us in our mission!  Please DONATE TODAY.


Jillian Ashton, CFRM
ICAN President

PS. To hear Johns story go to www.icandog.org  click on his video on the homepage. You are the most trusted partner in our fight. Hope is just four feet away – make your gift today!


Top Row: left to right, Charlie, Allison & Jammer Jr.

Bottom Row: left to right, Eugene & Jackson, Renn & Shennea