We all have our days where we just don’t feel great, we can be sad, angry, stressed, anxious, shut down, withdrawn, panic stricken or overwhelmed and when we do feel like this, our dog has an uncanny way of picking up on it and coming to our needs to comfort us.
Now imagine if your life was like this, every day, every hour, every year and then multiply this by 100. For some people a bad day can be debilitating and so stressful that they don’t leave home, they don’t speak to anyone and they suffer in silence. But one thing makes all the difference, their dog!
In 2011, Cath Phillips, who suffers from Bipolar Disorder, founded mindDog Australia and her dog was the first to become a Psychiatric Service Dog. She found a way to engage with society and every day life through her dog as her illness often secluded her. Cath discovered there was nothing out there for others with mental health illnesses when it came to service dogs specifically for mental health illnesses so she started her own organisation in the hope it would give others relief and hope.
mindDogs assist the handlers by keeping them calm, helping them during anxious periods, grounding them during panic attacks, blocking others from interfering and sometimes even taking them to a quiet space. mindDogs are so in tune with their handlers that they often pick up the subtle moods shifts even well before their person does. Having a mindDog means their person can get out of the house, it gives them something to live for and it brings them immense confidence and joy and this is where we come into it.
Lisa and I are both mindDog trainers and Public Access Test assessors for the Victorian region. What does this mean?
It means we can help train your dog to become a Psychiatric Service Dog and take it all the way towards full accreditation. The process can take up to 18 months, depending on whether you start with a puppy and we can talk to you and assist you through the entire process, from application to the final official test itself.
The training is all based on what the dog is required to do for the PAT (Public Access Test) and once the dog has its accreditation, it has the same rights as a Guide Dog does, which means it can enter all public spaces from shopping centres, medical centres, cinemas, restaurants, libraries, cafes, hair salons, food courts, hospitals, public transport, school, university and TAFE colleges, the workplace and even airplanes. As a trainee, your dog can access many spaces and this is discussed with your assessor at your first visit.
mindDog do not have a list of preferred breeds however, the dogs do need to have an incredible bond with their person and be very good around people, dogs and children. Whilst we are not breed biased, we are very mindful of the general public and the spaces that the service dogs take up. Breeds recommended are Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Groodles, Labradoodles, Spoodles, Cavoodles, Australian Shepherds and Border Collies.
What sets mindDogs apart from other Service Dogs is that the dogs are not purchased or fully trained for a large sum of money. mindDogs are pet dogs and they are trained from the very start in regular classes just like all the other dogs with their handler. The dogs must then work privately under a trainer in public spaces with their handler for up to 18 months until they are ready to be tested.
If you are interested in finding out more about the the process, what training is involved, training costs or have any questions about it, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about mindDog Australia, the application process and fees and when applications open, please go to www.minddog.org.au
Point Cook Dog Training & Day Care proudly supports and sponsors mindDog Australia.
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