Our Program

We, at Misha’s Mates, appreciate and understand your service and commitment to the community. We hope through this program we can support you on your road to recovery. Please read this application advice in detail to decide if an assistance dog and our program is right for you.

The Misha’s Mates program will help you work through the process of training and socialising your dog, with the final goal of passing a Public Access Test (PAT). Passing this test will allow your assistance dog to become fully accredited in Australia.

The decision to include an assistance dog in your rehabilitation plan is a very big decision and you will need to be fully committed to the program and your dog once you decide to begin training.

Is the time right for you?

Misha’s Mates is a full-time program inclusive of four 10-week blocks of training. During this training you will be expected to:

  • Attend a weekly group class,
  • Particiapate in group outings,
  • Conduct daily training responsibilities,
  • Maintain a training journal,
  • Meet training milestones prior to advancing to next training block,
  • Represent Misha’s Mates in a professional manner.

You need to ask yourself the following:

  • What demands do I have on my time in the next 12-18 months?
  • Am I expecting any major life events to occur in the next 12-18 months and how might these impact on my time and ability to commit fully to the program? (Examples may include; holidays, surgeries, impending birth of a child, etc).
  • Do I have time to commit fully to the program?

Do you have the energy?

Over the course of the program your dog will become well trained and well socialised; however, your dog will still require all the same things as normal dogs. In particular, your assistance dog will need down time where it can play and relax.

You need to ask yourself the following:

  • Can I provide the physical and mental presence required for training?
  • Am I able to walk my dog daily?
  • Can I physically restrain a dog that may be in excess of 35kg?

How do your family and friends feel about your decision?

Support of family and friends is crucial in any new venture. Please ensure you have discussed your decision with them—citing your reasons for wanting to participate—and have their full support before applying to Misha’s Mates.

Do you have realistic expectations?

An assistance dog is a wonderful tool to aid in your road to recovery, but it is by no means a ‘cure’. By the end of your training your dog will be a wonderful and loyal partner to you and will likely assist you to live a fuller, more productive life. However, your dog can not do it alone.

You need to ask yourself the following:

  • Am I willing to work towards my recovery goals?
  • How will my dog help me work towards my recovery goals?
  • What skills/tasks would I expect my dog to perform to aid me?

Can you handle increased public attention?

Your assistance dog will inevitably attract attention to both you and themselves. Natural human curiosity dictates that when you are in public with your vested dog, people will want to know what your assistance dog is for and why you have it.

Some of your friends or family who are unaware, or do not perceive you as disabled, may have mixed feelings when confronted with your assistance dog. It is possible that you may receive unanticipated negative responses. For some of you this can be a good thing, as it may require you to openly discuss your disability. For others though, this may be distressing and hinder your recovery.

Some adults and children will attempt to gain your dog’s attention or touch your dog without permission. As a participant in the Misha’s Mates program we expect you to be able to handle these situations in a calm and professional manner.

You need to ask yourself the following:

  • Am I at a point in my recovery where working with a Assistance Dog would be beneficial to me?
  • Am I able to talk about why I need a Assistance Dog?
  • Am I ready to draw attention to my disability?

Can you handle confrontation?

Even after your assistance dog has become fully accredited, you may be denied entry to some locations despite having a legal right to access them. You may even encounter members of the public whom have negative views of assistance dogs and voice these feelings to you directly. These situations can be confronting and emotionally exhausting. They may even be triggers for your PTSD.

As a participant in the Misha’s Mates program you are expected to handle these situations in a calm and professional manner. There are a number of constructive ways to address these problems and the Misha’s Mates team are more than happy to help you resolve any issues, should they arise. However, if a participant in our program has reacted aggressively in anyway it makes it very difficult for us to help you moving forward and can result in our organisation and the program being perceived in a negative way. We simply can’t allow this to happen.

You need to ask yourself the following:

  • Am I able to walk away from confrontation?
  • Am I able to communicate in a professional manner when faced with a negative situation?
  • Do I have other coping strategies I can rely on, should I need them?
  • Am I able to restrain myself when someone is being aggressive towards me?

Am I financially able to have a dog?

Misha’s Mates has the following fees for participation in our program:

  • Application fee: $250
  • Weekly training fee: $25
  • Testing fee: $250

In addition to this you will be responsible for the day to day cost associated with owning a dog. You will need to ensure that you have the financial capacity to care for your dog throughout its life.

If you are lucky your assistance dog will be able to work for 8-10 years. For some this will be a major financial commitment and you will need to ensure you are able to support your dog, both during its service to you and beyond.

Below are some logistical and financial aspect to consider:

Application:

Applying to our program requires the following:

  • A letter of referral from a GP which affirms their belief that working with an assistance dog may increase your quality of life;
  • A letter of referral from a Mental Health Practitioner which states that, in their professional opinion, working with an assistance dog may increase your quality of life
  • Full payment of the application fee ($250)

Upon receipt of all the required documentation you will be contacted by our training team to organise a suitable time to conduct your Basic Obedience Test. At this time you will be presented with a detailed information package about our upcoming program.