CRAIG & ANZAC
This is Anzac
G’day, my name is Craig.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with:
- Severe Anxiety Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
I was diagnosed with the above as a result of severe child abuse while in State care between the ages of 10 months, to 4.5 years. When my foster brother and I were finally removed from that situation, it was determined that my organs were shutting down and that I had approximately 3 weeks to live.
After years and further foster situations and abuse I could leave as a young person.
After my diagnosis, I was removed from the workforce for my own safety. I was highly suicidal, frightened, just/newly married.
I started my rehabilitation journey in March, 2012. At the start, my psychiatrist told me that I would get better, that I will have a decent life. And, like most new patients, I didn’t believe him.
As part of my therapy, my psychiatrist suggested I get a pet of some description. The idea was to give me something to focus on, to have a life to be responsible for. Long story short, we ended up with 2 rats in 2013. Those rats helped me beyond measure.
Fast forward to around June of 2014. Our Son is 4 months old and we had recently put the 2nd of the rats down. My wife suggested we get a dog. I didn’t want the responsibility of a longer-lived pet. But, you know how these things go… I quickly found myself at a boarding kennel where a dog had been abandoned by his owner. When the kennel-hand brought this dog out, he literally made a bee line to me, sat by my left leg, and nudged me with his head. Poof, welcome to the family, ‘Anzac’. Sadly, Anzac had suffered a very similar fate to my own during his 3 short years.
We initially got ‘Anzac’ to have as a pet. However, at some point not long after starting group-based dog training, we found mindDog. After finding a suitable personal dog trainer, we left the group training behind and started the journey that would lead to ‘Anzac’ becoming my Assistance Dog. My wife noticed a significant and positive change in me almost instantly. I was happier, had less ‘episodes’ and was more present.
Over the 6 years I’ve had ‘Anzac’ as my Assistance Dog, I have been able to re-immerse myself in society. Being able to have him by my side, trusting him to keep me safe while in high-trigger environments (anywhere there were/are lots of people, as well as hospitals) has helped me build my confidence in dealing with those environments. Having him has enabled me to go to TAFE and earn 4 solid qualifications in the last 3.5 years. And now, on the 5th of Dec 2020, I have retired ‘Anzac’ from his role as my Assistance Dog because I no longer need an Assistance Dog (he will remain with us as our pet).
Next year, with my qualifications, I will be embarking on a brand-new career in WHS. I would never have been able to get this far without ‘Anzac’ or the support of, and from, mindDog. To go from where I was 9 years ago to where I am now is a massive achievement. I would never have been able to imagine that I would be where I am now, and I will be eternally grateful to ‘Anzac’, and to mindDog, for being such hugely significant parts of that.
I’ve left out the horrific details, but I want my story to inspire other trauma sufferers and survivors. I want them to know that it is possible to attain a decent quality of life. We never get over our trauma, but with help and support, we can learn to better manage our symptoms and significantly improve our quality of life.
My heart-felt thanks go to our trainer/assessor, Eve. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of this without her. My thanks also go to Cath for creating mindDog; and to Gayl for her ever-willingness to provide guidance and support. ‘Anzac’ and I leave mindDog after 6 years and I can’t thank, or recommend them, highly enough. #ThisIsMe!
Craig and ‘Anzac’