Dog Heroes

Written by Kev

I’ve been looking forward to this issue. There are so many amazing puppers and people out there being heroes every single day in so many big and small ways that I couldn’t wait to share some of them with you.

The heroes that you see here are all part of their own humancanine teams. These relationships are built on trust earned over time with lots of good times spent together creating those bonds and also bravery and courage on all sides as they learn how to support each other in navigating challenging situations.

Check out Max and Hartley hanging out at the dog park. Max is an almost 4 year old Australian Kelpie and Hartley is his 7-year old most awesome human. What a gorgeous smiley team they make! They would bring joy to anyone they encounter just by existing.

There is only one thing us working dogs love more than being someone’s side-kick and that is having an important job to do.

This makes Hartley and Max make the perfect team. Hartley helped Max learn about the world and how to perform the tasks he needs to do for his Assistance Dog certification. Max has a few super powers and magic tricks that he uses to support Hartley when they are out and about in environments that could easily become overwhelming and he is always wholeheartedly there for Hartley whenever he needs a judgement-free friend and a bit of unconditional love. Hartley also protects Max by educating people about how to behave around Assistance Dogs. He takes great pride in letting people know that:

• Max has an important job to do and he mustn’t be distracted;
• They must always address the handler and not the dog; and,
• Not be offended if they are not able to stop for a chat.
• Any human that protects their furry-friends that well is definitely a hero in my opinion.

Border Collie, Gypsy, is an assistance dog too, she has been specifically trained as a PTSD service dog to support a true hero, veteran William (Bill) Simeon. Bill served as an SAS soldier in the British army in Kenya, Malaya and Korea. Having lived my whole 5-years of life here in Hervey Bay I can’t even imagine the conditions and experiences that Bill went through in service to his country so I imagine it would be quite an honour for Gypsy to be able to provide support and service to him now. They both love being each other’s constant companions, especially when Bill visits hospital as Gypsy gets to be there for Bill as well as brightening the day of all the other patients and staff in the hospital too.

I would also like to introduce you to my fellow Therapy Dog graduates Monnie and her human Janeen Greaves. We went to Dog Therapy school together back in 2018 where we did our Human-Canine Team Training. Since then Toby has joined their team and together all three of them have established the PAWS
program at Aldridge State High School. They’ve been improving the attendance, engagement, inclusion and emotional learning at the school as well as improving staff and student wellbeing.

They live to bring even the smallest moments of peace or joy to a person’s day. That’s a massive paw-print they are leaving on the hearts and minds of the whole Aldridge community.

Monnie and Toby say that Janeen is their true hero though – she is the one that has tirelessly trained them both for the past 5 years with consistent day-to-day reinforcement in preparation for their therapy dog work each week. She ensures they are feeling confident, happy and safe wherever they go and with whoever they are spending time with. She is that one that grooms them every week and ensure they are in
peak-performance for everybody’s safety and for the specific conditions and situations they work in. You see, us therapy dogs, rely heavily on that human-canine partnership that we have established to do our therapy dog work, we wouldn’t be able to stay as calm and present in order to connect and bring joy to all
the humans we encounter if we don’t have our trusted human nearby looking out for us.

Being a Therapy Dog is quite a different role to Assistance Dogs isn’t it – it’s important they stay connected to their one person for their human to feel comfortable being out into the world –
whereas us Therapy Dogs have our one person that supports us to go out and connect with lots of different people in particular situations. You can see why Hartley has his work cut-out for him in educating people about the difference! I hope we’ve been able to help him out a little today on his mission to create awareness about the difference between Assistance Dogs and other dogs.

Stay courageously you!