Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust (Mobility Dogs)

Established in 2003 Mobility Dogs mission is:“to enhance the lives of people living with physical disabilities; increasing independence, confidence, self-esteem and participation in New Zealand communities” through the training of assistance dogs. 

Mobility Dogs are trained to provide functional assistance with everyday tasks for those living with physical disabilities including: 
  • fetching the phone
  • retrieving dropped items and items out of reach
  • barking for help
  • opening doors
  • pressing lift and pedestrian crossing buttons
  • paying for purchases across the counter
  • loading and unloading washing machines and dryers
  • and more... depending on the recipient's needs

Mobility Dogs not only increase independence but also offer companionship, a greater sense of security and a feeling of connectedness to the community.

The Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust provides four categories of Mobility Dogs:
  1. Service Dog provides support both in the home environment and out in the community with full public access rights.
  2. Assist Dog provides support at home, and public access will be managed by a facilitator.
  3. Skilled Companion Dog provides the support of a highly skilled pet and mitigates at least three aspects of disability.
  4. Puppies with People - Mobility Dogs supporting in a variety of sectors: health and residential care, criminal justice, education in schools, physiotherapy psychologist/psychiatrist counselling services, emergency and victim services, and social workers, music therapist assistance.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Call for Proposals from ADPT Foundation

Association of Dog Professional Trainers (ADPT) Foundation makes financial awards for academic research in:
  • Behaviour analysis
  • Ethology
  • Cognition
  • Training & Behaviour Modification
Undergraduate and graduate academic research students and academicians are encouraged to apply for one of up to five $1500 grants being awarded through by the APDT Foundation in 2016.
Closing Date for Applications: 1 April 2016
Accepted proposals will be selected based on research submitted in a field related to behavior analysis, ethology and cognition. 
  • Preference will be given to proposals that contain research questions that will have practical application for professional dog trainers and behavior consultants.
  • Preference will also be given to proposals that include collaboration with the dog training and behavior community, specifically companion dog trainers who work with dog owners. 
  • The APDT Foundation will also accept proposals that create canine science outreach and education opportunities.
Interested applicants must submit their proposals to the APDT Foundation by April 1 2016. For instructions and eligibility requirements, visit the “Awards and Grants” page of the APDT Foundation’s website:
The mission of the APDT Foundation is to provide funding for applied scientific research on dog training and behavior and to further increase the knowledge base of the dog training profession. To learn more about the APDT Foundation visit:

Man rescues a dog.Then the dog rescues him...

Eric O'Grey knew he was in trouble. His weight had ballooned to 320 pounds, and he was spending more than $1,000 a month on medications for high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.
In 2010, a physician told him to buy a funeral plot, because he would need it in five years. He was 51 years old. So he went to talk with a naturopathic doctor about losing weight. She said: Get a shelter dog! O'Grey was surprised, but he took that advice, heading to the Humane Society Silicon Valley near his home in San Jose, Calif. He told the shelter, "I want an obese middle-aged dog, like me." That's how he met Peety.
Peety needed to be walked, so Eric and Peety walked, for at least a half-hour a day. O'Grey, who was working as an area sales manager for GE appliances, shifted to a plant-based diet. Over the course of a year, he lost 140 pounds. Peety lost 25. O'Grey got off the meds.
It wasn't just the walks with Peety that transformed O'Grey's life. The dog helped keep him from backsliding into his old, unhealthful ways. "He looked at me like I was the best person on the planet, and I wanted to become the person he thought I was."
Their story might have ended there. But Carol Novello, president of the Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV), had been trying to make the point that helping animals improves the lives of humans, too. She was finding that a tough sell, so she started looking for stories that made the case. "A while ago, Eric O'Grey submitted his story, and I just loved it."
Novello, a former tech executive, asked David Whitman, executive producer of the Tech Awards of Silicon Valley, what they could do with Eric and Peety's story. He came up with the idea of the Mutual Rescue initiative, which includes a contest where people can share stories of how a shelter animal changed their lives. The winning tale gets a video made about their rescue story. Donors to the HSSV funded the production of the Eric and Peety video as an example.
"It's really about the transformation and the impact that animals can have on our lives," Novello says.

Since the contest opened in February, the HSSV has received hundreds of stories, many of which focus on health. "We may do a Mutual Rescue weight-loss series," Novello says. "There are a lot of them."
Sure, stories are nice, but do pets really improve human health? No less an authority than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says yes. Having a pet can help decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and feelings of loneliness, the CDC says, while increasing opportunities for exercise and socializing with other humans. And there's increasing evidence that interaction with pets helps people cope with challenges including PTSD, Alzheimer's and the end of life.
"He transformed me into a completely different person," O'Grey says in the video. "I think about it now: Who rescued whom? Did I rescue him, or did he rescue me?

Sunday, 6 March 2016

1 in 3 working Guide Dogs attacked by an off-lead dog!



Research shows that attacks from off-lead pet dogs are one of the main reasons for the premature retirement of Guide Dogs. 
  • 34% of blind or vision impaired Victorian Guide Dog handlers have had their Guide Dogs attacked while working.
  • An average of one Guide Dog attacked in Victoria every month. 
Attacks by pet dogs are traumatic for Guide Dogs and their handlers, as well as being costly - it costs over $35,000 to train each Guide Dog. The consequences of attacks on Guide Dogs include:
  • Loss of mobility for handlers when the attack occurs.
  • Potential injury by the attacking dog to our Guide Dogs and their owners.
  • Inability of Guide Dogs to defend themselves because they are harnessed and leashed.
Attacks aside, ongoing distraction from pet dogs can cause Guide Dogs to become anxious and ineffective guides.

With her former Guide Dog Emilee who was attacked by another dog and her
new guide dog Cameron, Rhonda is supporting the 'Take the Lead' campaign

To address the issue, Guide Dogs Victoria, together with Guide Dogs organisations nationally, is participating in a new public education campaign, 'Take the Lead', calling on the country’s dog owners to ensure their pet dogs are always walked on a lead in the name of responsible pet ownership. 

“Guide Dogs play a vital role in enabling people who are blind or vision impaired to get around independently. Attacks compromise this independence and can cause serious injury and trauma to both the guide dog and its handler. In rare serious cases, attacks can result in premature retirement of a Guide Dog, which costs more than $35,000 to train,” said Guide Dogs Victoria CEO, Karen Hayes.


“There’s no doubt Australia is a nation of dog lovers with 4.2 million pet dogs across the country, but this just means 4.2 million potential safety hazards for Guide Dogs. We’re encouraging dog owners to take the lead to help create a safe community not just for Guide Dogs and their handlers but for everyone.”  

*Research released 30 April 2014 as part of International Guide Dog Day
Part of a national survey of more than 230 Guide Dog handlers who are blind or vision impaired, findings show that over half of these attacks occurred in the past 12 months, with off-lead pet dogs responsible for 84% of incidents. A further 11% have experienced at least four separate attacks over the past three years.

Assistance Dogs Australia celebrates 20 years!

Twenty years, two hundred dogs and one family...
Hannie & Robert Biggs OAM had no idea that their holiday to the USA over 20yrs ago would change their lives forever, as well as those of so many families in Australia.
As huge animal lovers, the couple visited Canine Companions for Independence during their time in California, a charity which places Assistance Dogs with people living with physical disabilities.
Watching the joy and happiness that an Assistance Dog brought to one young girl in a wheelchair, was the pivotal moment for Hannie.
“The little girl was so excited, she was whizzing around in her wheelchair and playing with the dog, and her mother called out for her to slow down. The girl shouted back, for all to hear, ‘Mum, I can do anything with this dog by my side!’
“Still to this day, I get goose bumps whenever I think about that moment. On the plane home to Australia, I turned to my husband and said, ‘This is something we have to do.’”
And with that, Assistance Dogs Australia was born. With 1 in 5 people living in Australia with a disability, Hannie and Robert saw a need for specially trained four-legged friends. Since then, Assistance Dogs Australia has placed over 200 life-changing Assistance Dogs to people in need, including: 
  • wheelchair users
  • children with autism
  • schools
  • military personnel with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • people living with dementia

20 years on, Assistance Dogs Australia has maintained its family values, with Hannie, Robert and their sons Andrew and Gavin, still very much involved with the organization.
Robert remains treasurer of the Board, while Hannie volunteers her time to show community groups the incredible work of Assistance Dogs Australia. Hannie visits groups & schools,demonstrating the skills that each dog learns with ambassador dog, Sunshine. 
People are always amazed when they can see what Sunshine can do.” said Hannie. “Her favourite thing is pulling my socks off.”
Together, Hannie and Sunshine show how an Assistance Dog can retrieve dropped items, open and close doors, remove items of clothing, answer the phone, and press the button at the pedestrian crossing.
Assistance Dogs Australia celebrates it's 20th birthday year in 2016. To find out how to be a part of it, visit their birthday page.    
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