Luna is Paul’s Mental Health Assistance Dog, MHAD (also known as a Service Dog). Luna is trained through one of our Beneficiaries, mindDog Australia. We all agree that Luna has saved Paul’s life by being there when he is really struggling. Luna senses Paul’s emotional/stress levels and responds when required, without being given a single verbal command.
Luna is not just a great Assistance Dog, she is part of our family. When her vest is on, she is all about work, but take it off whilst we are out playing with the kids, she is super keen to join them. You can see more about Luna’s training on her Facebook page.
What is a Mental Health Assistance Dog (MHAD)?
A dog individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual disabled by mental illness.
What types of mental health impairments can be assisted by a MHAD?
Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Panic Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Personality Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and others. The common experience of those choosing partnerships with Assistance Dogs is that they increase independence and wellbeing, as well as providing invaluable companionship, and generally improving the quality of life of their impaired partners.
What tasks can MHADs be trained to do?
Remind handler to take medication at a specified time
Turn on lights and search a room for intruders
Warm handler’s body during a panic attack
Interrupt checking and other repetitive behaviours
Stay with handler during acute emotional stress
Accompany handler outside the home
Alert to mania, panic attacks or dissociative episodes
Interrupt dissociative episodes or flashbacks
Assist handler in discerning ‘reality’ from auditory or visual hallucinations
Mediate hyper-vigilance, assist with threat assessment secondary to PTSD
Provide a constant, safe grounding presence
Be trustworthy companion when handler is negotiating paranoia
Where are MHADs allowed to go?
Assistance Dogs, also known as Service Dogs are allowed access to spaces open to the public, including but not limited to: restaurants, hospitals, airplanes, doctor’s offices, cabs, zoos, stores, etc.
Where may MHADs be lawfully excluded?
MHADs may be lawfully excluded from private spaces including but not limited to private homes, private clubs, etc. They may also be excluded from spaces where their presence constitutes a safety risk, (e.g., operating rooms, radioactive laboratories, heavy construction sites) or an imminent threat.