Meet some of the people you will help

As a Puppy Champion, you open up the world to Australians all across the country who are living with a disability, and help to make their futures brighter. Read on for heartwarming stories of transformation and gratitude.

SJ and Cozie

SJ lost her mobility and way of life in one fateful moment, but now she has Cozie to complete her family, help her rebuild her life, and return to doing the things she loves, like skiing.

“Waking up and realising you are quadriplegic is exceptionally traumatising. I thought about ending it all, which would have left my son without a mum. Then Cozie came into my life.”
– Sarah-Jane (SJ), New South Wales

Rob and Jimmy

Former Sergeant Rob was part of the Victorian Police force for 24 years. He saw countless crime scenes, road accidents, and was one of the first officers at the scene of the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. It took a heavy toll on him, and Rob developed post-traumatic stress (PTS). Jimmy helped to turn Rob’s life around.

“I wouldn’t be here without Jimmy.” — Rob, Victoria

Noah and Claudia

Parents Kate and Murray worried about what the future would hold for their seven-year-old son Noah, who is living with autism. Then Claudia came along.

“Because of our Assistance Dog Claudia, I see a light in my child that I have not seen. Claudia is like the warm sun for the first time after the long winter.” — Kate, Victoria

“I would like to express enormous gratitude to the supporters of Assistance Dogs Australia who have given me the chance to live a pretty normal life.
The ability to operate on a day-to-day basis as everybody else does is amazing. Having spent 8 years after my accident not being able to be independent and contribute to society is mentally very difficult.
I work, I am the dad I want to be, and I pay tax! None of this would be possible without my Fizz.”

Michael, Victoria

Areas of Work

Mobility Needs

Assistance dogs are trained to pick up dropped items, open doors and drawers, alert bark, and so much more. They also help reduce the need for a carer.

PTS (Post-Traumatic Stress)

Dogs like Jimmy sense rising cortisol (stress hormone) levels in their human, and act immediately to calm them down. By reducing stress, fear and anxiety, people with PTS are able to rejoin their community.

Autism

Dogs like Claudia can help stop a meltdown in a person living with autism, when other forms of therapy may not be as effective, and also give them the confidence to improve communication and social skills, opening the world up to them.

Facility Support

Assistance Dogs are miracle workers in aged care homes, rehabilitation centres and palliative care facilities. They provide companionship and affection, and create opportunities for learning, activities and lots of fun.

Animal Assisted Therapy

Animal Assisted Therapy is Occupational Therapy with the help of a fully-trained Assistance Dog. This helps clients with communication skills, decreases stress, and so much more.

Educational Support Dogs

Assistance Dogs at school can get through to students who are living with disability or have experienced trauma in their home life. Students perform better, are more motivated and engaged, and communicate more with an Assistance Dog at school.

Assistance Dog Journey

Breeding

Breeding

The long journey ahead starts with our breeding program, where select dogs are chosen for their desirable characteristics and temperament. As they first open their eyes and find their feet, our breeding teams are there to help them every tiny step of the way.

Puppy Education

Puppy Education

From 8 weeks of age our Assistance Dogs join their first families for the initial portion of their education. They attended puppy classes with our dedicated puppy supervisors, and practice the skills learned in class at home and in public. Most importantly, they receive plenty of love and nurturing as they grow up!

Advanced Training

Advanced Training

After their 1st birthday, our talented pups join the talented team of Trainers at the National Training School. Here they’ll spend the next 4 months perfecting the incredible skills that will change their client’s life. It’s not all work though, when they’re not training or out on field trips they spend plenty of time goofing around with their kennel buddies.

Placement

Placement

As their time at the National Training School draws to a close, each dog’s strengths, weaknesses and personalities are assessed. We take these factors into consideration and match each dog with the client they are best suited to spend the rest of their working lives with.

What are the skills of an Assistance Dog?

Assistance Dogs are taught 50 different cues so they can offer both practical and emotional support to their client.

Mobility support skills

For clients who are living with conditions such as quadriplegia, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, having an Assistance Dog to retrieve dropped items, open doors, pull washing out of the machine, and press pedestrian or lift buttons helps them to live more independently.

Emotional support skills

Assistance Dogs can detect rising cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and stop a meltdown or panic attack from taking hold. This is particularly useful for clients living with autism or PTS. They also provide unconditional love and companionship for the most isolated in our community.