Andrew and Benji’s story

Like many people living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Andrew was a man struggling with everyday life. He served in the military for 15 years, twice in East Timor — until PTSD mental health issues forced him to retire. Simple daily activities that most of us take for granted were causing him untold pain and anxiety and his family life was disintegrating. At 42 years old, for this husband and father of three children, the future was looking bleak and hopeless.

For Andrew, having Benji means everything has changed. He helps with Andrew’s anxieties of being out in public and has reduced his feelings of anger and aggression. The settling in period literally happened from the moment this bouncy ball of fur bounded through the front door. Andrew recalls: “When Benji arrived at our home, he was wagging his tail. My wife opened the front door to let us in and from that moment on, he has been a part of our family. The assimilation was immediate and he was welcomed with open arms by my children — they love him so much.”

The pair go everywhere together — for walks, to the shops, to Andrew’s appointments at the doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist and physio. Andrew smiles happily: “We are always together and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Andrew’s frankness is disarming and incredibly moving. “My marriage was being pushed to its limits but now Benji is in our lives, my wife and I are able to talk more easily. My wife has said that I have become a lot calmer and even the kids have noticed the difference. I have been laughing more often, too, something that I had lost. Benji came into our lives just when we needed him the most and it feels like it was meant to be, as if we’ve always known each other.”

Each Assistance Dog costs over $35,000 to train

This includes everything from purchasing a puppy to food, vaccinations, training and placement. Assistance Dogs are provided free of charge to people in need.

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