Harley was trained by Canine Helpers for the Disabled, a Queensland service organisation accredited to train Assistance Dogs. Assistance Dogs can be either Service Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Facility Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and in certain circumstances Private Certification for dogs can be issued for dogs to assist their disabled owners. Canine Helpers also train and licence handlers to meet the criteria that the Government has set up to allow public access. Full details of the types of Assistance Dogs and the duties they perform can be obtained from the Canine Helpers website.
Canine Helpers rely on shopping centre stalls where funds are raised by sales of merchandise and donations from the public to continue their work. Donations and sponsorship from individuals or organisations can also be arranged through the Canine Helpers website.
Harley and Peter became an item about 8 months ago and Peter believes Harley has become an indispensable part of his life. Peter is a double amputee and Harley assists him in many ways.
Harley is trained to pick up items that Peter drops and cannot retrieve himself from his wheelchair. Harley can also take Peter’s sock off, open doors and drawers, bark when someone comes to the door to alert Peter of visitors, and generally hangs around with Peter waiting for the next job. Harley is a companion that doesn’t argue or nag, but he does like a tasty little reward from time to time. (Peter hopes that in the near future he can be trained to make a decent cup of coffee.)
Harley has become a ‘fixture’ around Caboolture, making friends with medical staff Peter regularly visits and staff at the local shopping centres and also many shoppers who have come to know him. Harley has a great friendly personality and makes friends easily. If for some reason Harley is not accompanying Peter when he is out and about, his friends want to know where he is or if there is anything wrong. (Peter has had to learn to cope with rejection and accept a lesser station in life since Harley came on the scene.)
Peter recommends life with an Assistance Dog for any person with disabilities, but due to limited funds and the small number of suitable dogs and the complexity and time restraints of the training programs, applicants have a long waiting period if they are accepted into the Canine Helpers program. The wait however is well worth the eventual reward.