Craig (Founder & Director of Misha’s Mates)
Craig is a Tasmanian father of three beautiful girls.
He joined the Army in 2000 and was discharged from active duty with the 6th battalion Royal Australian Regiment in 2013. Craig served for 13 years as an Infantry soldier with five overseas deployments including three to Timor Leste and two to Afghanistan.
During his last trip to Afghanistan he was exposed to daily fighting and exoperienced multiple close calls, including a very close IED strike, which he was extremely lucky to walk away from, let alone avoid physical trauma. He was returned to Australia shortly after this incident for a family emergency. While back in Australia the fighting for the 6th Battalion intensified, and the unit suffered the first casualty of their operation. Craig was left with a sense of immense, all-consuming guilt at not being there with his comrades during this time.
After his battalion returned home, Craig threw himself into his work, running physical activity and rehabilitation sessions for other members from his unit who were recovering from injury in order to return to active service or transfer from the armed forces.
In 2011 Craig was put on medical leave and his journey towards transitioning from the ADF began. This process took over two years and was not without significant stress and challenge. Craig officially became a civilian again in 2013.
Shortly after this, Craig’s life and purpose shifted when he was introduced to Misha. He soon began the process of training her to become an assistance dog. Craig also commenced an Outdoor Recreation Certificate through TasTafe which he describes as a “six-month rite-of-passage”. During this time, he rediscovered his passion for the wilderness and the things that had drawn him to the defence force to begin with.
Today Craig is not only the CEO of Misha’s Mates, he is also very involved with the Tasmanian veteran community, public speaking, youth work and exploring his wild island state.
Monique (Behavioural Therapist)
Monique became part of the Misha’s Mates family in 2016 after a chance meeting with Craig and Misha at a corner store. After a short conversation Monique immediately volunteered her services as a trainer and after a few coffees she met her first dog team and quickly became an integral part of our Misha’s Mates team.
Monique’s passion for all animals began at a young age and her love of dogs has continued into adult life, leading her to work with Dr. Harry Cooper as a vet nurse for over ten years. Her time working with Dr. Cooper lead to a passion for understanding why dogs behave the way they do. Because of this, Monique went on to train as a qualified Canine Behavioural Therapist and Trainer in 2007.
Monique’s passion to work with dogs led her to a job at Yours In Paws Dog Day Care and Training in Launceston. Her time working there has provided invaluable experience in all aspects of canine behaviour, interaction and communication, which she is now able to pass on to our assistance dog teams.
Hilary (Behavioural Therapist)
Hilary Smith is the newest member of our Misha’s Mates family and will be a familiar face to our southern dog teams. Hilary has been working with dogs for over 10 years as an owner and behaviour therapist at one of Hobart’s most prestigious dog centres. Prior to this, Hilary worked with Righteous Pups, training assistance dogs for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Hilary is the proud mum of her own adorable Labrador, “Tido” as well as two special cats, “Quentin Purrantino” and “Uma Purrman”. She is also the founder of Hobart’s own gourmet dog meal provider, Houndstooth Dog Dinners.
Chris (Social Worker)
Chris Hannan is an Accredited Social Worker with the Australian Association of Social Workers. Chris has almost 20 years experience as a social worker and specialises in trauma counselling with military personnel and emergency responders. Chris started her career as a hospital social worker and spent seven years working in Emergency Departments and Intensive Care Units. Chris has spent the past 12 years working to support defence personnel and their families. Chris also has experience working with veterans, military members and their families at Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service. Working closely with military personnel, emergency responders and their families, Chris has developed an understanding of the challenges involved with working in these roles.
Chris is currently completing her Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) at University of Melbourne and is passionate about adventure therapy, assistance dogs and helping clients and their families live a happy and healthy life.