Tag: assistance dogs australia

Canine carer celebrated at Assistance Dogs Australia graduation ceremony

Skip is part of Australia’s first assistance dog program to help people living with dementia and their families. He recently graduated from the program at a ceremony for assistance dogs in Sydney.

Richard Bartlett has been living with dementia for the past four years. His wife, Jennifer, said there came a point where she couldn’t leave Richard on his own. She knew something had to be done. 

Jennifer attended a lecture at HammondCare where she was offered a brochure for the Dog4Dementia program. The more she looked into it, the more she felt it could be helpful to Richard. That’s why she decided to apply for an assistance dog.

After a few lengthy interviews to assess eligibility, a black Labrador named Skip was delivered to Richard and Jennifer’s house.

Skip became an integral part of the family in no time and is respected and admired by his community. Being with Skip has paved the way for Richard to make social connections with other people.

“It’s helping to combat the stigma that’s often associated with dementia,” said Dementia Centre Consultant Deborah Moore.

Jennifer says she feels more secure knowing that Skip is with Richard on his walks.

“It’s a great comfort to me when I throw them both out the door. I know that Skip will help [Richard] if needed. I’m sure of it,” she said.

Research is also revealing a number of health benefits, for people living with dementia, associated with having an assistance dog.

“Not only do these specially trained assistance dogs provide additional support for people living with dementia,” said Ms Marie Alford, Head of Implementation at the Dementia Centre, “our research has also shown they reduce anxiety and create greater opportunities for autonomy – they bring joy, comfort and companionship.”

Changing lives – one dog at a time

We received over 400 expressions of interest for this innovative project. The findings from this pilot program have demonstrated excellent outcomes including opportunities for greater autonomy for the person living with dementia and their carer. We are now seeking funding to continue the Dogs4Dementia program.

Find out more










Meet Jan, Graham and Greta

Greta joined our family in October 2016. We were terribly excited to have been given this opportunity, and awaited her arrival with joy!

With so many instructions to remember, we felt a little overwhelmed at first, but Greta’s beautiful loving and gentle personality won our hearts, and we weren’t going to let her down!

So she has accompanied us to Church, shopping, Café s, and concerts, but we really love it most when she is just a dog!

She is very clever and well behaved when out walking…

But our greatest joy has been teaching her to return to us after running free without a lead. It takes a lot of chicken, but it’s worth it to see her running down to the creek, playing with dogs, and running for sheer joy!


Greta follows Graham like a shadow at home, and the bond they have developed is so positive. The love Greta exudes when we come home, or wake in the morning is so good for the soul, and is a soothing balm for the sometimes rocky road of Alzheimer’s.

We have cut back on taking her to music concerts at Hamer Hall (she enjoyed the music so much she joined in with her own singing!!), but apart from that, she is a very significant part of our family.

We are so grateful to the HammondCare staff, and the Assistance Dogs trainers for your patience with us, and the amazing gift of Greta you have brought to our lives. It is hard to quantify the richness she has added to our conversations, our daily rituals, and our every day life!


The views expressed in these blogs are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily the views of HammondCare or the Australian Government.


Rosie, Jerry and Bailey 6 months on

Well here we are 6 months on from when Bailey our beautiful Chocolate Labrador arrived on our doorstep . We can not imagine life without him, he fits into our family like a glove & adds so much joy to our days.

Even our very mature little dog Ricky (in his 17th year) welcomed him & they have become such good friends…

After a few weeks settling into our new routine , daily walks have become our regular exercise.

Beach & park runs free of jacket & lead are really special times, to see him & Jerry playing so freely is just amazing. He is such a pleasure to take to the beach , his interaction with other dogs is just so lovely, always the gentleman !

Bailey has been welcomed wherever we go & has been the topic of many a conversation if Jerry is sat waiting whilst I pop into to order our coffee or to quickly pick up a few things in the supermarket.

In recent times Jerry would never have sat outside waiting for me , lets alone have a conversation with someone he didn’t know. Bailey has provided a much needed anchor & with that confidence to interact with people , making the D4D program so worth while.

Another aspect which is so invaluable , whilst we have faced some challenging times in the last few months , the comfort Bailey provides has been so welcomed by us both . He senses when Jerry needs him at his feet or I just need to give him a cuddle & a pat.

We certainly are very privileged to have Bailey as part of our family !

Thank you !!!!!



The views expressed in these blogs are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily the views of HammondCare or the Australian Government.

The Baxters’ first week with Zorro



“The Waiting time is over and done,

it felt like years instead of months.

The waiting time is over and done,

the dog has come, he’s come! He’s come!


All the wondering of what he’d be like?

This mystery dog revealed at last!

His name, his name? I hear you ask?

Well it’s Zorro, without the mask.


A brain that’s keen with a regal stance.

He is as black as night and lightning fast.

How blessed we are for such a friend,

the wait was worth it in the end.”

by Malcolm Baxter



The views expressed in these blogs are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily the views of HammondCare or the Australian Government.

Expecting a new addition to our family

For many elderly people living with a medical condition, it is a constant challenge and a roller coaster of ups and downs.

My husband Warren has Stage 3 Dementia and as his wife and carer, I would like to share a few words about how we felt when we learned that we were accepted to take part in the Dogs 4 Dementia program.

Having never been a pet owner, and with Warren having good and bad days, I was initially a little hesitant as to how it would work.

I wondered if I would be able to cope with having an assistance dog living as part of the family, I must admit with encouragement from family and friends, I soon came to the realisation that it was no longer about me.

I could see my husband of 55 years was drifting away into a different world, maybe the Dogs 4 Dementia program would not only supply a pet and companion for Warren, but add to the care and friendship that we were already receiving from our close knit family and friends.

After a few meetings with representatives like Deb from Dogs 4 Dementia and Alberto from Assistance Dogs Australia, we found ourselves preparing our home, making room for a newest family member to arrive, much like we did many years ago when we were bringing our newborn children into the family home. Warren would make me smile when he would ask ‘When is my dog coming? ‘Do I need to build a kennel and what will I call him?’

Our day finally arrived, on May 1st 2016 when Alberto from Assistance Dogs Australia pulled into our driveway with Lucky, a beautiful Golden Labrador on board. Now Warren has a reason to get up in the morning, caring for his new companion and mate takes up a good part of his day and also allows me a little bit of breathing space.                                                                                      

Many things can be squeezed out of life when an illness comes in, but thanks to the dedicated and caring people at Assistance Dogs Australia and Dogs 4 Dementia, Warren now gets to enjoy his new friendship and all of the support and care that comes along with it.

IMG_2201                                        “Warren and Lucky – end of day one in my new home.”

Story by Margaret Stoddart



The views expressed in these blogs are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily the views of HammondCare or the Australian Government.

A 4km walk in the Mother’s Day Classic, Bendigo

Event: Rolf, Vyrna and Jiyu walked in Sunday’s 4 km Mothers’ Day Classic in Bendigo accompanied by 3 daughters, 2 grandchildren and 2 partners.

Weather: soft rain throughout, invigorating rather than disagreeable.

Advice on terrain prior to walk: ‘starts across a grassed soccer field, then mostly paved, a bit up and down, and some compressed sand you can walk around; should be OK for your walker, and you are very welcome to come. By the way, don’t start in the front.’

Tactics: started in the back so as not to impede others’ progress. Were pipped to the post near the end by a small family with a pram and a 3-year old who maybe walked all the way.

Result: came in last to a welcoming crew of volunteers who were probably longing to dismantle the finishing line arch and get home out of the rain.

Summary: Last to leave and last to finish, nothing if not consistent! A very special experience to share with family on Mothers’ Day, our enjoyment boosted by the steady presence of our wonder dog, Jiyu, who walked beside Rolf all the way and who, for Rolf, added to the normality of the event. ‘Have dog, will walk’. By the way, Jiyu wore Rolf’s number plus a pink sash from a past event.

Aftermath: Mugs of coffee and a second breakfast. Contentment.

Story by Vyrna Beilharz


The views expressed in these blogs are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily the views of HammondCare or the Australian Government.