A new program offering specialist trained assistance dogs to veterans living with PTSD has found its first pairing here in Canberra.
Labrador Belle is now living with former servicemen and Canberran Ben Jones after completing her training through the national program.
Not-for-profit organisation, Integra Service Dogs Australia, has worked with veterans to help deliver specialised training to the furry assistants.
Founder, Ben Johnson said each dog delivered through the program understands the unique needs of their handler.
“The veteran might be experiencing hypervigilance or anxiety when going out in public places and we can train the dog to perform a range of tasks to help reduce that anxiety.”
As Belle and Mr Jones have completed their intensive training program and passed the Public Access Test, they will now spend each day together.
The bond formed during Integra’s training program means that Belle has insight into Mr Jones’ condition and knows his unique triggers allowing him to reclaim his place in the community and rebuild his life.
Belle is the first of four dogs to pass their Public Access Test and take up residency with their veteran handlers this month.
A total of 21 psychiatric assistance dogs have now passed their intensive training program across the four providers with another 89 dogs also in training across Australia.