The Minds Behind Mindful Dogs…
Mindful Dogs began in 2017 when our founder, psychologist Kerry Howard, discovered just how hard it was to find someone who could accredit her daughter Elysha’s dog Oreo, as a Psychiatric Assistance Animal. As a parent of a child with Bipolar I, Kerry realised that Elysha was more stable and relaxed in any environment when she could have a dog around.
Elysha had grown up with two Shitzu’s – Brewster and Cleo. When Brewster passed away in July 2016, Elysha was also moving into her own place where she would be living alone for the first time and life began to get complicated. To assist her to cope with these changes, Kerry realised Elysha needed to have a dog around. Since Oreo came into Elysha’s life, she has found her reason to get out of bed everyday and Oreo assists her to stay safe and calm when things feel out of control.
In addition to her experience with Elysha, Kerry was made aware that several clients within her practice, Mindfully Well, were also struggling to get their psychiatric assistance dogs accredited. Whilst researching options to assist Oreo to become a certified assistance dog, Kerry only found one organisation able to do so. Sadly, due to overwhelming demand they were forced to close their books for maintenance for at least a year. This meant that there was no organisation able to accredit companion or assistance animals.
As a result, Kerry decided to establish Mindful Dogs as a not-for-profit organisation in the ACT, with the help of Elysha and five other volunteers. This enables this accreditation process to remain available for those who need it most.
In April 2017, our first Trainee Mindful Dog was certified as a psychiatric assistance dog.