In partnership with Assistance Dogs Australia
With a quick 2-minute survey you can help train a future PTSD Assistance Dog for a person living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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All of us will experience some form of trauma during our lives, and most of us will recover without long-term difficulty.
But people who are repeatedly exposed to traumatic events, such as Australian Defence Force or police, ambulance and fire service personnel, may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
For those in the armed forces, PTSD is triggered by being in combat. For those in the emergency services, it is triggered by life-threatening experiences, such as being stuck in a burning building, being shot at, or having to deal with a terrifying roadside accident or domestic and child abuse.
They are situations where the person feels crippling fear or helplessness and devastating flashbacks and nightmares are common.
People who have been diagnosed with PTSD often feel isolated, suicidal and depressed and struggle with daily life and relationships.
Assistance Dogs Australia can help guide those living with trauma back to a sense of safety, helping to improve interpersonal connections, encourage engagement in the community and regain areas of functioning that may have been diminished by their trauma.
Having a dog also means there is a need for a much-needed routine; you need to go out and exercise because physical exercise helps battle some of the PTSD symptoms.
Jimmy is the PTSD Assistance Dog for Rob, and together they work in the Victorian police force.
As a father of three young sons living with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Rob was taking anti-anxiety medication daily, with a host of side effects. Thanks to Jimmy, Rob’s medication has reduced from once or twice a day, to once or twice a month.
Jimmy has empowered Rob to take part in more activities with his family.
His work doesn’t stop with Rob. He is having an incredible effect on the local community, opening up conversation with others living with PTSD, particularly within the police force.
And when anxiety strikes, Jimmy is there to lick, nudge or play with Rob.
“Jimmy intervenes and forces me to ground myself before I even know what is going on. He keeps me calmer. He is the perfect wingman.”
Founded in 1996, Assistance Dogs Australia trains and places dogs that specialise in support for people with a physical disability, autism or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Assistance Dogs Australia trains up to 50 puppies at any one time and has placed more than 400 Assistance Dogs with people who urgently need them. However, another 69 people are on the waiting list, which is temporarily closed to new applications while we work hard to meet overwhelming demand.
All dogs undergo rigorous preparations for up to two years, including 16-20 weeks of advanced skill training. The dogs master cues aimed at addressing PTSD-specific areas of difficulty including intervention for nightmares.
It costs $40,000 and takes two years to train one Assistance Dog. This cost includes veterinary treatment, kennel costs and placement with a client. Assistance Dogs are given to clients for free.
The puppies learn more than 50 specialised voice commands and all the different skills they will need to help their future client with everyday life. Training for each dog is carefully tailored to their personality, learning style and their future area of work.
By taking the ItAllCounts survey, you help Assistance Dogs Australia place PTSD Assistance Dogs free of charge. And it’s all done without government funding.