Axons Unleashed Podcast: The Power of Dogs with Angie Weeks From PSTD Dogs Australia

When Defence Partner Angie Weeks decided to commit herself to supporting veterans and emergency service workers combat the effects of PTSD, she knew the best and only way to do that was through the power of the human connection with dogs! 

In this heart-warming (and tail-wagging!) episode of the Axons Unleashed Podcast, Robbie is joined by the very best person to share this conversation, Dave Simpson (Axon Team Member and former Dog Handler in the ADF – Season 2: Episode 1). 

Together Angie, RT and Dave talk about their own experiences of the healing and irreplaceable presence of canines and what we can all do to spread the message about PTSD and support the amazing cause that is PTSD Dogs Australia

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Episode Transcription:

Speaker 1:
Axons Unleashed.

Robbie Turner:
G’day, ladies and gentlemen. My name’s Robbie. I’m joined with Dave Simpson here and welcome back to 2022. And don’t get me wrong, if you’re now listening to this podcast and it’s 2027, for instance, you probably don’t care that it’s just January 2022. But Simmo, hope you had a good break, brother?

Dave Simpson:
I did. I’m really excited to be back at work. Had a good break over the Christmas period, got some downtime, visited some family and friends, and ready to kick back on.

Robbie Turner:
And you and I live both here on the Gold Coast, and to be fair, the weather’s been shit.

Dave Simpson:
It was. It wasn’t real flash, but some time on the couch was much needed.

Robbie Turner:
When Tamara and I, my wife, both had a small bout of COVID, we were sort of stuck at home, but it didn’t really matter because it was pissing with rain outside anyway. So I’m like, “Oh, well I can’t really do anything, so I might as just chill out here.” I actually did my first ever binge-watch of a Netflix series. So that was good. My the first ever one that I got under my belt. I’m notorious for bouncing between Netflix series. So it was good to spend some time on the couch as well, buddy.

Robbie Turner:
Simmo, the reason why we got you here today, and I know you’ve joined us on lots of other podcasts before, but… And if you haven’t gone back and listened to Dave’s podcast about him being a dog handler for SABI, it’s a wonderful story. SABI’s now down in the Australian War Memorial. Dave, your story about the whole dog thing is brilliant. So please go back and listen to that. We’ve got Angie Week’s dialling in live and uninterrupted from the Noosa Hinterland, and Angie, you run a charity called PTSD Dogs. Welcome to Axons Unleashed.

Angie Weeks:
Hey, Robbie. Hey, Dave. Thank guys. I feel honoured to be here, so thank you.

Robbie Turner:
Yeah, great.

Dave Simpson:
It’s great to have you here.

Robbie Turner:
We’re just having a quick little chat off here you said that you have had a chance to listen to some of Axon’s podcasts before and you said you feel pretty comfortable. So it’s just a great opportunity we’ve got to [inaudible 00:01:58]. We’ve told Axon’s story and everyone knows about the property stuff, but we’re really starting to expand our services and who we are and what we’re doing. And certainly, we had an amazing conversation with [Joe Lossino 00:02:07] from Soldier On, late last year. That was the last podcast we did.

Robbie Turner:
He spoke about why people join and getting your head shaved and the hard body/soft body, and when you get out of the bubble of the military from a mindset perspective and then try and transition into the civilian world, there’s so many mental challenges that all of us undertake. With Simmo on one side and me on the other side, we’ve got the better part of 45 years of military experience just between the two of us.

Robbie Turner:
So as we were saying, Dave, the military never leaves us. But certainly in your experience working with some dogs, and I’ve got a little tiny puppy, I don’t mind sharing this when it comes up, the use of dogs in some way, shape or form to find a connection with somebody, that unconditional love has been an absolute saviour for me. And I know I speak for you as well.

Robbie Turner:
So Angie, I know many of our listeners are huge dog and animal lovers, and I know that I really can’t wait for you to be able to tell the story of PTSD Dogs, about who you are, why you started, how it all works. And I know certainly if we’ve got some time, we’ll do some case studies. If not, we’ll certainly get you back in, in another little while. I’d love to bring it to life, I suppose, as far as how that all goes.

Angie Weeks:
Sounds fantastic, Robbie.

Robbie Turner:
Awesome. Tell us quickly… And I love telling a story, because I’m like, how did this sort of come to be? I know that Axon has been… So we have $50 donations from all of our clients go to a veteran charity of their choice after they have their first initial coaching session with myself or one of the other two coaches. It brought a huge amount of pride to my heart and mind there when people started to nominate PTSD Dogs. So you probably just started to see 50 bucks roll into your bank account from the Axon. Just tell us about when Axon first came on your radar. Can you remember?

Angie Weeks:
A couple of years ago, actually. So it’s been going on for a bit now, which has been amazing. And apparently, how it all started all off was one of your participants said, “Do you know about PTSD Dogs Australia? This is an awesome organization.” They were the first people to actually suggest that you look us up, and that was where the connection came from. We spoke to you guys, really felt comfortable, and it was that immediate connection. Look, the fact that we’re all military is a huge bonus, but more than that, it is definitely we all have this very strong connection around our dogs and [crosstalk 00:04:31]-

Robbie Turner:
Yeah. We wanted to do that, is that as opposed to Axon having our five charities that we support, it’s totally in the ball of the participant, as you say, one of our clients. If they’ve got a particular affiliation to a certain charity, then if they want their 50 bucks to go to them, then happy days. It’s certainly, we have a completely open yet exhaustive list of anyone, and anyone can donate to any charity you. So yeah, that’s really great that that started.

Dave Simpson:
I do have to admit, I am a little bit biased, and Angie, whenever I do see it come through noted as PSTD Dogs, I do give a little bit of a fist bump.

Robbie Turner:
Good on you, Dave.

Angie Weeks:
Me too. We see you guys and it’s just like, “That’s just amazing.” I feel honoured to be here, but I’m really grateful to be receiving these donations from you guys. We don’t get any government funding. We purely run off of people’s donations. So to have you guys as a contributor for us, as a continuity, allows us to budget and do those things. Because we know from history now that we’re getting a good amount of money from you every three months and that’s coming through, and we can budget and rely on those dollars. And our number one expense for us at the moment is actually our vet bills, so a lot of that money goes to that.

Robbie Turner:
Yeah. Brilliant. It’s all about that patient care. It feels like half the country’s going through COVID at the moment and there’s no doubt we’re all relying on either TeleHealth or going to see a pharmacist and getting all the care that we need as humans, and no doubt the dogs need that care as well. Let me just pick up on something real quick, which I didn’t know. Did you just say, “We’re all ex-military?” Have you got a military background? Because I’m just meeting you for the first time. Are you a veteran as well?

Angie Weeks:
No, sorry. No. My husband is an air force, veteran.

Dave Simpson:
By default.

Angie Weeks:
He did… Fought. Roger. I just say… I just put us all into that [crosstalk 00:06:37]-

Dave Simpson:
All fall under the military family.

Robbie Turner:
You are absolutely right. Whether you’re a spouse or a bonafide veteran yourself, if… I mean, how many years have you and Roger been together?

Angie Weeks:
30. You just go, “Oh my gosh.” I look at myself now and I go, “I’m not…” This year marks 50 years. It’s my 50th this year, and I just think, “Oh my Lord.” I just think, “Wow, that’s really amazing.” But it doesn’t feel like 30 years of being together, and 26 years of marriage this year.

Robbie Turner:
So you were 20 years old when you met young Roger. I turn 50 this year also, so you and I share that. 1972 babies. But what an amazing story that is. You are in… Unfortunately, it’s the way of the world these days, there’s a very small percentile of people that meet so young in an age that doesn’t drift apart. And then for you guys to be still together, as a side note, is a great story straightaway.

Angie Weeks:
It is. And even you look at the veteran first responder community, and pretty much everyone that we work with has been through a divorce or are facing that. There you go. And as a partner or as the spouse, I say, fuck PTSD, fuck all of that stuff. Excuse my French. Sorry.

Robbie Turner:
I love it that you swore before I did.

Dave Simpson:
Incredible. That’s a first.

Robbie Turner:
Very unusual in these podcasts.

Dave Simpson:
Has to be a first.

Robbie Turner:
Even Daniel’s having a laugh over to the side.

Angie Weeks:
Sorry.

Robbie Turner:
Keep going. Keep going. Please do. Please do.

Angie Weeks:
You’ve got to be raw and real. And we’ve had some really fantastic times together, but oh my gosh, we’ve also had those loads of lows. And you don’t know what’s happening and what’s next, and it’s that constant highs and lows. I’m hypervigilant for Roger because I’m always aware of his triggers. So as a partner, we’re living this stuff, and that’s really what it’s about, is being there.

Angie Weeks:
So we talk about the veteran family. Well, the veteran family is very much our spouses as well, and the children, and it’s the grandparents, or our parents because our network sees it all and experiences our highs and lows as well. So we are very much a family. Tat’s very much, when I created the image in my mind, “Well, what would I want?” I wanted to be able to create an organization that felt like home, that felt like family.

Dave Simpson:
Yeah, that’s fantastic. I think what you’ve said there, Angie, is extremely important to recognise. It’s not just the Defence member or the first responder member going through their PTSD on their own. Their family is right there with them as well. They’re experiencing almost what they’re experiencing, or the after effects of it. So recognising their triggers, being hyper vigilant, as you said, for their triggers. If a dog can be introduced to help them in any way, that can ease the burden on the partners and the rest of the family as well.

Robbie Turner:
Quite often they’re bearing the brunt of it all. That’s the term that I’ve sort of used there. It’s very, very true, mate, because in another week or so, if I had have still been in, it would be my 32nd year anniversary. So I joined in 1990. Now here we are 2022. 23rd of January, I joined. So the team next door are getting some very embarrassing photos of me as a 17 and 18, 19, 20-year-old they’re going to put up and do a little collage that everyone will see soon.

Robbie Turner:
Tell us about Roger’s story then? When did he join? How many years did he do? Paint a bit of a picture of the great man, that you guys have been together for the better part of 30 years, and what did he do? And then from there, I guess we can start to transition into how your amazing organization was find.

Dave Simpson:
[crosstalk 00:10:46]. Yeah. Roger had 14 years air force. He started more as radio… And I’m sorry, I don’t know all the tech terms. Radio tech, basically.

Robbie Turner:
When did he join?

Angie Weeks:
Oh…

Robbie Turner:
Roger, sorry if you’re listening, buddy, you will eventually.

Angie Weeks:
He’s not in. It was too much for him.

Robbie Turner:
Fair enough.

Angie Weeks:
He was going to join us and he just said, “No, sorry, can’t do it.”

Robbie Turner:
It’s all good. Do you remember his… Because the reason why I ask, if you joined in the ’80s versus the joined in the ’90s versus joined in the 2000s, they’re very… And even now, it’s a very different military to what it was then. So I’m just, for myself and our listeners, trying to understand the ilk of when Roger was serving.

Angie Weeks:
There’s a big difference in Roger and I’s age. So there’s 18 years between Roger and I. So he was ’70s. We know that we’re ’72 babies. So, serving in that period. It actually took many, many years for Rog after he left. So he started off doing radio tech and decided that really wasn’t for him, and found his niche and his passion in photography.

Robbie Turner:
Oh, nice.

Dave Simpson:
Brilliant.

Angie Weeks:
So he loves photography, but there are a number of different things that have stayed with him. And unfortunately, Rog didn’t pick up the camera for many, many years afterwards. He’s actually just picked up a drone, recently. Last year he decided, through therapy [crosstalk 00:12:17]-

Robbie Turner:
Dave loves his drone.

Dave Simpson:
Yep, yep.

Angie Weeks:
Yep. Oh my God. Well, he’s got a couple now, including a big monster of a thing.

Dave Simpson:
Good on him.

Angie Weeks:
So he’s loving his drone work now, so it’s just a different take on it. So he’s quite enjoying that. Roger was a photographer, lots of different things. Lots of really great photos. And he loved the technical aspects of different things. Rog was well-known for getting those complex photos and actually being able to work it out. I always say my husband has an incredible brain, and he really does.

Dave Simpson:
Good on him.

Robbie Turner:
Have you seen him evolve with the… I know he didn’t pick up a camera for a little while and it would have been like dark room sort of stuff back in the day for him, no doubt.

Angie Weeks:
Yeah.

Robbie Turner:
And certainly now, everything’s bloody digital and in the cloud and post and comment, whatever you want. Have you seen him evolve? Has he…

Angie Weeks:
He’s learning to evolve with all of that. So that’s something that we’re working on, or he’s working on. So he’s got a couple of programs. In fact, this was a photo… I don’t know if you guys can see that.

Robbie Turner:
Yeah. We certainly can.

Angie Weeks:
That’s clear. Yeah.

Robbie Turner:
Brilliant.

Angie Weeks:
That was a photo that I actually took of Rosie, his PTSD assistance dog, and we’ll talk about Rosie later, and Roger, down on the North Shore of Noosa.

Robbie Turner:
Is that recent?

Angie Weeks:
That is recent.

Robbie Turner:
He’s got a bloody decent ponytail going there. Strewth.

Angie Weeks:
He said he’d never cut his hair again. Honestly, swear to God, he has not.

Robbie Turner:
I can see that.

Dave Simpson:
Man of his word.

Angie Weeks:
And the beard as well, though. I’ve made him cut the beard off because I just went, “Enough’s enough. Come one.” Anyway, that picture has been put onto a canvas, but through the computer and artworks on the computer, he’s taken my photo and then done creative stuff with it. So he’s actually really enjoying those sorts of things. So exploring art mediums, I guess, through the computer now. So no more dark rooms, although he actually misses the dark room. He quite enjoyed that.

Robbie Turner:
Yep. That’s real photography craft there, isn’t it?

Angie Weeks:
It is.

Robbie Turner:
As opposed to just applying a filter and swapping left and right. Simmo, I know your photos are always perfect. So I don’t know what filter you use, mate, but please pass it my way. But that’s real craft. When you were saying 1970s, I’m like, that’s like SLR and green sort of stuff. None of this bloody high tech MVGs and stuff that people have got now. That’s hard soldiering back then.

Angie Weeks:
And look, I think he still enjoys stuff. I’ve actually said to him, I want him to teach me how to do my dog photos now. So that would be really lovely. So that’s something that I… Because I love my dogs and I love… I just use my mobile and click, click, click, click, outside playing games or training or whatever, and just the silly things that you with your dogs.

Angie Weeks:
I capture some really gorgeous photos, but I’d love to be able to get much better at it. Because if you can get down low with the dogs, which is what I’ve learned… And I’m always rolling around on the ground with them. No, I’m not drunk. Drunk on love with the dogs [crosstalk 00:15:28]-

Dave Simpson:
People from the outside looking in, always wonder what’s going on. It’s the same for dog handlers and dog trainers worldwide. There’s always someone holding around-

Angie Weeks:
When you’re being a goofball with your dog, it’s… I love it. My five-year-old comes out to play. But I want to be able to get those photos happening, because you can capture so many awesome images with the dogs. So it’s getting both of us together now to start actually doing that sort of stuff.

Angie Weeks:
Going back to Roger, he basically had a number of things happen, which I won’t go into. I’ll keep that for Roger, if he wants to share or not share. But he also has spinal reconstruction and an artificial knee. So he got to the point… He was up in one of the planes and they actually pulled 3G and he was twisted. So he crushed his spine, and unfortunately he could no longer walk. He’d stand up, fall over.

Angie Weeks:
So he’s actually had a lot of procedures on his spine so he can stand up now and walk, which is great. And the artificial knee. That’s all stuff to his service, and then his PTSD. Roger, because of PTSD… I don’t know if many people actually know this, because we learned about it as we’ve gone through it all. But what we found out is, with PTSD and the rigors that that causes and the stresses on the body and the cortisol levels that impacting our body constantly, there’s a hidden factor.

Angie Weeks:
And Roger’s now been diagnosed with a heart condition, and also has seizures. So they’re not epileptic seizures, they’re disassociate seizures, but for all intents and purposes, they actually look like he’s having an epileptic fit, whether it’s that uncontrollable shaking, he can’t speak. He just has to ride it out. So these are all of the sorts of things that have come about because of Roger’s service and all the stuff that he’s been through. We were talking about why and how this all came… how PTSD Dogs Australia was created. So being raw and real, guys-

Robbie Turner:
You’re in the right place, buddy. Go for it.

Angie Weeks:
… and potentially a trigger for people. So please [crosstalk 00:17:46] if you need to.

Dave Simpson:
Trigger warning for anyone listening, yeah.

Angie Weeks:
But being honest with you guys, it was 2018. It was February, and we were on a road trip on Roger’s Harley. We were heading to Tasmania for a Harley rally in Tassie. We had been, for some years, really not living in a great space. We had lost our beautiful Samantha, which we called our baby girl. She was in fact a dog, Border Collie cattle, and she was 16. And we called her our daughter because we’re unable to have children. And without her by our side, both of us were not coping.

Angie Weeks:
For Roger, it was much more difficult, because she’d really worked with him for all those years. Dogs are incredible. We all know that. So Roger, actually on the back of the Harley, we’ve got our headsets in our helmets and we’re just chatting away. He said, “I need to tell you something.”

Angie Weeks:
We have an agreement in our marriage that no matter how hard, we will always be honest with each other. No matter how hard that conversation is, honesty is supremacy, because we both came from relationships that weren’t honest and open. So that was one of our key foundations for our marriage.

Robbie Turner:
Good advice.

Angie Weeks:
So we had that open conversation and we listened and we talked. And I swear on my heart, the universe put us in front of… Every time we stopped for petrol, our accommodation, anybody that we met was either a veteran or a first responder, or knew of. And they all understood PTSD. They all understood exit strategies or suicide plans. And through this conversation and us driving from the Sunshine Coast all the way down to Tassie for this rally, being in the rally, and then the ride back, just everybody we met knew about it.

Angie Weeks:
And what they all said to us was, “I can’t get help. I love my dog. I’d love to train my dog. I’ve lost my dog through old age.” Or, “My marriage is disintegrated and the family and the kids have got the family pet now, but the dog was my saviour. I’m done. I’m at where you guys are at.”

Angie Weeks:
And I’d said to Roger, “All right, why don’t we do something? I know how to train a dog. I’ve been training dogs since I was five years of age. I’ve had dogs of all kinds. All bar one dog have been rescue dogs and many of them really badly damaged, and I’ve rehabilitated and built confident, happy animals. I can do this. I’ll just train dogs and give them out to some people on the Sunshine Coast who need them.”

Angie Weeks:
Honestly, after the ride to Tassie and all the ride coming back, I went, “Oh my Lord, this is huge. This is way bigger than anything I thought.” My eyes were wide open and I said, “We’re going to create an organization that will go Australia wide eventually.”

Dave Simpson:
Fantastic.

Angie Weeks:
“But we’re going to start on the Sunny Coast, little by little, and help who we can.” And that was literally after Roger sharing his exit strategy on the back of the motorbike heading to Tassie to now being May… It was May 2018, the charity was created. We got full ACNC status, DGR status. So we’re registered full charity. It’s been a hell of a ride, but that was where it actually started. And it’s just grown from there, out of pure need.

Robbie Turner:
That’s a long time to be sitting on a bike, from Sunny Coast to Tassie. That’s a long ride. Yeah, for sure. Good on you, mate. [crosstalk 00:21:57]

Dave Simpson:
A lot of time to strategize and think about all the stuff that you needed to do and wanted to set up, and who you wanted to help.

Angie Weeks:
Absolutely. But being on a back of a motor bike, there’s nothing like it. For those of us who ride, you know what I’m talking about.

Robbie Turner:
Yeah, that’s what I was saying.

Angie Weeks:
It just clears the cobwebs out. This is real… I actually always say, I’ve been learning how to ride, but I actually don’t want to ride. I want to be pillion, because for me personally, I love being on the back. One, there’s a sense of connection with my husband in front, and I don’t know, maybe it’s our bits joining together, being that close connectivity, being there.

Angie Weeks:
You are one on a motorbike and you flow, and the movement is so nourishing, but I also find that it’s such a great place to strategize, to think, to allow me to actually reconnect to the universe and all that is actually encompassing me. And that’s amazing, and it’s such a good time for Roger and I. So it’s been an amazing journey, and that was amazing to create it on the bike.

Robbie Turner:
How did you come up with the name? Who come up with the name? It’s very apt. It’s crystal clear what you do. I’m just interested.

Angie Weeks:
It is for some. It’s really amazing. We came up with a couple of different… We were just bandying things around. And then as we met people, we would say, “What do you think of this name?” And it was just PTSD Dogs. And we came up with that fairly quickly, because we knew that it was the dogs that were going to really help support. But by the end of our road trip, we knew that it had to be Australia, and that’s where Australia came from, because the need was so great.

Angie Weeks:
We also realised… Initially, the veterans and first responder space was definitely veterans. And initially, Roger and I just thought we would do just veterans, even though we’ve got friends who are first responders. We knew that there was a very big difference between the service industry, so police, fire, ambulance, and military personnel, and then somebody who is a victim of crime, a victim of abuse, a car accident person. Their PTSD is incredibly different.

Angie Weeks:
So we knew that we needed to keep them separated, which is why we’ve actually… Our constitution says that we are working for the health of our veterans and first responders. We have just recently increased it too, and we’ve just changed our constitution to include England and America. So, our alliances.

Robbie Turner:
Wow, that’s great.

Angie Weeks:
We’ve had so much need, and we’ve always said, “I’m sorry, but Australia only.” And rightfully so. They say, “We’ve served in wars with you guys alongside you. We are one.” And I’ve always gone, “I know, and I so want to help.” But our board has actually said that yes, we would do alliance as well. So that is quite important, but it is always is going to stay as veterans and first responders, is who we work with. And we want to create that safe environment, and as I said before, the family. You guys know what it’s like to be military, the brotherhood, that connection that you get. That’s what we’re creating for PTSD Dogs Australia as well.

Robbie Turner:
So how many people working in the charity at the moment?

Angie Weeks:
We have 19 volunteers and one paid staff member, and she works, and is not me. I’ve not drawn a cent for anything we do.

Robbie Turner:
Amazing.

Angie Weeks:
I have, last year, bitten the bullet and I have a Market and Communications lady, Cinda.

Robbie Turner:
Good.

Angie Weeks:
She was going to be online today, but she’s actually having a week with her family.

Robbie Turner:
It’s so important. You can have the best business and the best service in the world, but if no one knows about it, no one uses it. So it’s a good move. As a business owner, I endorse what you just did then.

Angie Weeks:
Thank you. It’s been a huge decision. It’s pretty frightening, remembering, we don’t get any funding from any government or anything else. We have to chase every dollar, which is so important. To be able to pay her. The next thing I really need to… we’re working on this year, is getting administration. I need continuity, because I’ve just had volunteers and they come and go very quickly because they’re people looking for work.

Angie Weeks:
If they’ve been in the corporate ilk, I’ve had some amazing people come in, but they are goal getters and they then get a better paid job and more responsibility and all that sort of stuff. So this year is about finding the money to be able to pay for an administration person to work a couple of days a week to help take some of the load off of me, so as I can actually focus on the fundamentals of the organization and do what I need to do as founder and CEO.

Robbie Turner:
Have you found that the demand for your services has actually now dragged you into the vortex, like you can’t provide the actual services because there’s still all the other admin stuff on the back end that needs to happen as well?

Angie Weeks:
Absolutely.

Robbie Turner:
Wow.

Angie Weeks:
Absolutely.

Robbie Turner:
Well, first, you know what CEO stands for? Chief Everything Officer.

Angie Weeks:
I just say I wear many hats, including the pooper scooper.

Robbie Turner:
That’s everything.

Angie Weeks:
It truly is. Look, there are days when I go, “Oh my. Please, can I take some hats off?” But at the end of the day, I know currently that I am definitely the one with the million pieces in my brain. I know how the jigsaw comes together and how all the pieces of the puzzle come together. I’m really blessed that I’ve got a very strong board backing us and they’re helping now. They’re starting to really see the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and see how all the pieces come together. So they’re great.

Robbie Turner:
I just thought of something. The current Royal Commission into mental health and suicide awareness, et cetera, are you hoping that something comes your way on the back end of that, noting the clear benefits of having a connection with an animal and moreover a dog is saving people’s lives, quite frankly?

Angie Weeks:
Yeah, absolutely. And we actually had our first meeting back this year, yesterday, and it is on our radar and we’ve been reaching out to different people already trying to see how do we get in front. So if there’s any listeners out there that can help us get in front of the right people to showcase what we’re doing and how our PTSD assistance dogs actually change lives and save lives, we are in, boots and all. Absolutely.

Robbie Turner:
What about you Dave, just quickly? When did you first come across the PTSD Dogs organization? How long have you been working with pups for.

Dave Simpson:
Well, pretty much almost from the start of my military career. I joined in ’95. Went to the dogs in 2000, and then 16-odd years as a dog handler and trainer in the ADF before discharging in, geez, 2005 or thereabouts. But I must have-

Robbie Turner:
2015.

Dave Simpson:
Sorry. 2015, yeah. Cut myself short.

Robbie Turner:
I was going to say. I grabbed you by the collar, didn’t I?

Dave Simpson:
Pretty much. Yeah.

Robbie Turner:
Said, “Come and join the property industry.” Not with Axon back then, but yeah, you [crosstalk 00:30:10]-

Dave Simpson:
So when I did actually come up to Brisbane and when I was discharging from the ADF, I was looking at other dog groups for myself as well. I can’t remember the name of the one that I found, but there was a couple there. I spent a little bit of time with them. I wasn’t comfortable with them, for one reason or the other, just the way their training methods, I didn’t quite agree with. So I wasn’t happy.

Dave Simpson:
It was actually causing me more anxiety to be around that particular group. So it is very hard with the different charities and all the different ESOs out there. But I think I become aware of PTSD Dogs pretty much from 2018 as well. I’m always looking at those sorts of things. So I must have seen something pop up somewhere. But Like I said earlier, I’ve always been very happy whenever I do see someone chuck PTSD Dogs on their form there.

Robbie Turner:
Just tell us, Angie, what’s the main items or projects that PTSD Dogs Australia’s working on now then?

Angie Weeks:
Really very much the fundamentals of training dogs. So rescuing dogs. [crosstalk 00:31:23]-

Robbie Turner:
Tell us about that. How does all that happen?

Angie Weeks:
We’re always looking for the dogs that are suitable. It’s actually quite a process. We do work with a number of shelters that are rescuing the dogs. A lot of our dogs are actually death row dogs. For example, I’ve just recently got Willow. She’s a Labrador cross Shar Pei. Looks more Lab than anything, black Lab. She was in a pound on the Sunshine Coast, believe it or not, but ended up being taken on by Precious Paws.

Angie Weeks:
She had 48 hours to be collected or euthanised. She’d actually been booked for euthanasia. The pound couldn’t keep her because they were brimful and they’d put out the alerts. So they then took her on. They then, as shelters generally do, assessments and all that sort of stuff and then they put them up for sale. I get alerts from the shelter saying, “Ange, I think this is a dog that potentially suitable. Really compassionate dog. Wants to be by your side. Seems to pick up when people are sad. Really social, friendly.” All those sorts of things that we look for.

Angie Weeks:
So I then go and actually do an assessment with the dog. That assessment generally would take three days in its entirety. So it starts off with me just seeing when I arrive, how does the dog respond to me? And I go in with stupid hats on. I might go in with a clown or a jester’s hat with the bells and all that sort of stuff on. Dog doesn’t know me from a bar of soap and I’m going to it. Is the dog got heckles up and going, “What the hell are you?” or is the dog actually quite friendly and curious?

Angie Weeks:
Well, if it’s that, I want to know more about that dog. If the dog is aggressive and heckles up and all the rest of it, we couldn’t take a dog like that, because we need these dogs to be able to take anything out in the environment. Public spaces, anything and everything can be thrown at a dog, literally. So we need these dogs to be super chilled, super calm, able to come, be able to handle anything at all that comes their way. So I start the assessment that way.

Angie Weeks:
Then I look at does the dog respond to treats? So food, I’ll do a couple of different things. And Dave, I’m sure you’re going… I can see your head going, “Yep, yep, yep.” I want to see what the dog’s drive is and how well it’ll work for me. So we’re very much food training orientated. I love using treats, and I’ll use a number of different treats with the dog. So it could be a bit of sausage or it could be… We make our own chicken and sweet potato treats. So I’ll give them that and I’ll see what the dog really likes.

Angie Weeks:
And I’ll lure the dog around and see if it’ll follow my hand, and then I do different things using the treat over furniture. Can the dog follow and do those sorts of things? Will it really work for food? And then other dogs might just want to work for a toy, they love the squeaky toy or the ball. So I look at their drives, all of those things.

Dave Simpson:
That’s very, very much in line with how we used to recruit our dogs as well. We were fairly lowly funded as well when we were sourcing our dogs. So a lot of our dogs or the vast majority came from pounds and donations as well. We’d run through pretty much exactly the same sort of style of temperament assessment for the dogs, looking at their drives to chase the tennis ball was very important for us, because we wanted the dog out there searching for 40 minutes or even longer, sometimes, at a time. So we wanted them to have that drive, and then a lot of the reward there. It’s very, very important.

Dave Simpson:
Angie, can you tell us a little bit about the different types of dogs that you train? I understand there’s a difference between therapy and assistance dogs.

Angie Weeks:
Sure. So within this sector, an assistance dog, the easy way to understand it is an assistance dog is actually considered a medical aid. So just like a wheelchair, a walking stick, a Zimmer frame, all those sorts of things. They’re actually a medical aid. And what it means for dogs is that they’re actually task driven.

Angie Weeks:
So within the PTSD space, what we look for are dogs who are really empathic, number one, but how we utilize that as a task is when our chemicals go up and our cortisol levels go up or our stress hormones go up, it gives off a chemical. And we train the dog to sense or smell with their heightened sense of smell, the person’s change in chemical. Now because the dog is so empathic, what we can train the dog to do is come in close, nuzzle, as a distraction to help try and bring you back down again when you’re feeling stressed, anxiety.

Angie Weeks:
And we can even train the dog to touch. So, paw up. So if you’re sitting… Often, we find a lot of our handlers, when they’re getting really anxious, they tend to shake or… You know the restless leg? That is so often anxiety just coming out.

Robbie Turner:
I’ve had it going underneath here for half an hour.

Angie Weeks:
Oh no, I need to send you the dog. You need your dog. You need your dog.

Dave Simpson:
Should have a dog in here.

Robbie Turner:
It’s always on, mate.

Angie Weeks:
It’s always On. Particularly when there’s a level of that, that gets really… I mean, if it’s just that, it’s not so bad, but when it’s really that, and that tension is really there, then we can train the dog to come in. It’s a cue for the dog to come in and do what I would call an over. And overs are very much where the dog is going to come over, put its weight over your legs. And if you consider a big Labrador, 30 kg, over your lap and flopping in, you become very aware, yeah?

Robbie Turner:
Yeah.

Angie Weeks:
And this is where we talk about, as an assistance dog, weight is quite important and size is really important for the PTSD realm, and having it as a trained assistance dog that can get out and do public space. So assistance dogs are very much task driven. So for PTSD, there is the touch, the distraction, the deep pressure, creating space around their person. So someone who’s really hypervigilant and they’re in a queue and you’ve got someone coming up behind you, the dog goes in behind-

Dave Simpson:
And can block [crosstalk 00:38:16]-

Angie Weeks:
… or even just sits and turns behind. These are things that we will train specifically for an individual person, depending on what their need is. Some guys go, “No, I just want the dog in close and touching me, because I’ve got a sense of safety and my mate is there with me.” Others would say, “No, if I’m in a queue, I want my dog to have eyes out the back for me and to notify that there is someone coming up behind, just so as I know.”

Angie Weeks:
So that’s a task driven dog and those are tasks that we do train for, and they’re things that I look for when I actually go out and assess dogs. In terms of, if you look at a therapy dog, a therapy dog in general purpose is just a pet, but a dog that is already probably picking up on a lot of our emotional angst and wants to be with you and just knows, but they’re not trained specifically to help a person and don’t have public access.

Angie Weeks:
That’s the difference between a therapy dog and an assistance dog. There is confusion, however, because many people do say, “Oh my dog’s a therapy dog and it knows my angst. It knows when I’m upset, and it comes and lays on my lap or cuddles in close.” And that’s fantastic. In terms of commercial, if you were look at legislation, a therapy dog is actually a dog who is trained to go out in public space.

Angie Weeks:
So for example, you’ve got reading dogs that go into schools. They’re classified as a therapy dog. They’re trained to toilet on cue. They’re trained very well with manners, so they don’t be jumping up on people, but they are there. They’re quiet. They’re calm, beautifully behaved animals. The children are reading to the dog and the dog’s just listening. If it was going into a hospital, then their dogs that are just going to come up and be calm and be patted.

Angie Weeks:
So the dog then in terms of commercial therapy dog usage, it means that a dog is being trained for many people’s usage. So that’s the difference. So you’ve got a home use therapy dog, “My dog is just helping me at home. It knows my highs and lows. It’s great for my family,” that’s the therapy dog in a home use environment. In a commercial scenario, a therapy dog is a dog that would be trained to be safe in public space, but is being used or utilised by many people. [crosstalk 00:40:51]-

Robbie Turner:
Lots of pats for that dog. Pats from everybody.

Angie Weeks:
Exactly. And for PTSD Dogs Australia, we have a program called our Animal Assisted Smiles program. This is where we take a dog into aged care centres where our veterans are. So it’s predominantly a veteran aged care facility. We also take the dogs into police, fire and ambulance stations for on the job mental health care. So for example, if there’s a critical incident, they’ve come back to the station, they’re all pretty stressed out, had a really stressful shift, then they can ring us and we can take the dog in. And that way… Sorry, someone’s just arrived and my naughty crew are barking. I have four dogs here.

Robbie Turner:
Classic.

Angie Weeks:
So the dog then, as a therapy dog, is utilised by the people in the station or within the aged care facility. And we’ll go room to room in an aged care facility and the dogs beautifully behave. They may jump on the bed, get cuddles, pats.

Robbie Turner:
Awesome.

Angie Weeks:
Yeah. At the end of the day, what are they doing? Unconditional love. Comfort. We know and we’ve seen… For example, just recently, Master Archie is the one that we use predominantly for this. Master Archie’s a Cavoodle. Beautiful boy, really empathic. We go into a nursing home fairly regularly, and there is a lady that is actually nonverbal, as a general rule.

Angie Weeks:
It took us a couple of months, but after a while, what we found, visiting, we started actually getting little murmurs, just little voice, “Ah, ah,” from this lady. And now she actually talks. She doesn’t talk to anybody but Master Archie.

Robbie Turner:
Oh, lovely. Strewth, that’s great.

Angie Weeks:
It’s amazing. The power of dog is phenomenal, and it just takes training and knowledge on how to work with those animals and get the best out of them, so as they get the best out of us.

Dave Simpson:
Yeah. And they love doing the work as well.

Angie Weeks:
They do.

Dave Simpson:
Well, technically, they don’t even think of it as work. That’s them living their best life as a dog.

Angie Weeks:
I know, right? So you do want to find dogs that want to be petted, and that’s part of an assessment, actually. Complete stranger patting a dog, how does the dog respond? “Oh, I love it. Belly rubs,” to a dog that goes, “Whoa, what are you doing, lady?” Yeah, so it is. It’s living the best life for these dogs and they enjoy what they’re doing and it’s fun for them.

Dave Simpson:
Angie, if I was to see, say I was out and about, and I saw someone with an assistance dog, what should I know, or what should I not do?

Angie Weeks:
Go up and pat the dog, feed the dog, talk to the dog. Leave the dog alone. It literally is a wheelchair or that Zimmer frame, and you’re not going to go and pat the wheelchair and go, “Gosh, you’re a nice looking wheelchair.”

Dave Simpson:
Yeah. Not going to go and grab someone’s walking stick and take it off them.

Angie Weeks:
No, that’s right. And unfortunately, we actually… It is part of the training that we have to give our guys and girls, when they get their dog, how do you cope with that? Because unfortunately-

Robbie Turner:
It’s a natural reaction. Humans want to go and… Especially if the dog’s being quite placid, they’re like, “Oh, you’re a good puppy.” But no, that’s…

Angie Weeks:
“You’re gorgeous. I really like you.”

Robbie Turner:
Yeah, yeah.

Angie Weeks:
Yeah. So leave the dog alone. Interact with the… We call them handlers. So that’s technically what they’re actually called, is a handler. Speak with the handler, but also be really aware that you don’t know what’s happening in the mind of that handler. They might actually be so stressed out being in that public space, which is actually why they’ve got a PTSD assistance dog, let’s face it, because they don’t want to be out in public space. So the dog is actually helping them and doing its job.

Angie Weeks:
So for them to actually go and communicate and start talking to a complete stranger is really hard work for someone, and they might just go, “Fuck off, mate.” I know my husband, there are days when he will go and do what he has to do, and people want to… Because Rosie’s such a good looking chick that they want to interact, they want to know what she does and how she helps. And that’s so confronting. It is really confronting.

Dave Simpson:
Yeah. So just give them some space. Allow them to do their thing.

Robbie Turner:
How does one know that the dog’s an assistance dog, not just a normal dog?

Angie Weeks:
Dogs are normally jacketed. They do have a jacket on them. Look, some of hairy dogs… So Buddy, who’s a Border Collie, a Wheaten Border Collie, is with a young veteran that we have given Buddy to. His coat is so immense. It’s just beautiful, and it’s almost regal as it floats through the air. It’s just gorgeous. But it does tend to cover up the coat, and people often don’t see the coat or the jacket.

Angie Weeks:
But let’s face it, if you’re in Woolies or Coles or the IGA, whatever, or in a shopping center, and there’s a dog in that center, it’s not a pet.

Robbie Turner:
That’s right, it’s not a pet.

Angie Weeks:
It is an assistance dog.

Robbie Turner:
It’s there for a reason.

Angie Weeks:
Yeah, exactly. And people go, “Oh, I didn’t know.” Well, you’re in a shopping centre. Your dog’s not allowed in here. So why would mine, if it’s not an assistance dog? So leave it alone. And the other big thing, one of the biggest things we do find is, we talk about being in a queue and lining up for something and the dog is there. It’s probably one of the big times that people actually come in and go to pat the dog. And you’ve just stepped into someone’s comfort zone and their little bubble.

Angie Weeks:
And it’s almost like you… You’re actually only coming in close, but to you guys or to someone with PTSD, that is like coming in and shoving them, because they feel it to the nth degree. So I’d love to say to people, please just be super aware. If that person’s got a dog, whether you know it’s a PTSD dog or just a dog for the vision impaired or whatever it is, give them that little bit of space. Come back an extra foot. It’s not going to hurt, but it means a lot to the person with that dog, and it can be a matter of life changing situation.

Dave Simpson:
Great advice.

Robbie Turner:
Great advice, yeah. I mean, like I said, it’s a very natural reaction. If you’ve got a dog at home and you see another dog, you want to go and pat it, but I guess it’s that awareness of if a dog is in a human space, it’s at work. It’s there for a reason. It’s not to be patted. And communicate with the handler and just see what the circumstances are. I’m sure there are plenty of handlers that are okay with that, depending on one’s circumstance and situation. So [crosstalk 00:47:43]-

Angie Weeks:
Some days are good and some days are bad. It depends on every situation. Absolutely. Do you want to show your gorgeous… Is it a girl or a boy?

Robbie Turner:
He’s Little Hank, is his name? There you go, ladies and gents. That’s Little Hank there.

Dave Simpson:
Hank the Tank.

Robbie Turner:
Little Pomeranian.

Angie Weeks:
Little Pomeranian.

Robbie Turner:
Yeah. He’s five years old this year, as Axon turns five years old this year as well. So yeah, he’s been a huge help for me. And I guess as a pretty well-known man’s man, having done 11 years as a Special Forces officer, have a little four kilo puppy dog, not as my designated PTSD dog, but I’m telling you he’s been an absolute lifesaver for me.

Robbie Turner:
I guess most people are surprised when they see me and my dog and the way that we interact with each other. People have a different perception on what dog Robbie Turner should have, but it’s not about the size of the dog, it’s the connection I have with him. And no doubt you’ve seen many, many awesome connections with people that have lots of different… It’s almost like, for me anyway, it doesn’t matter about the breed of the dog. It’s what’s actually going on, like that vibe.

Robbie Turner:
I think that the energy and the heightened sense of smell that you were talking about before, the dog knows straight away when you are not normal and they will react differently if you’ve got a really great connection with him. And Dave, you would’ve seen that over your years as well.

Dave Simpson:
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Angie, in general, how long does it actually take to train one of the assistance dogs?

Angie Weeks:
Look, every dog is different, but if you said 18 months, would be fairly standard. The dogs that we get, because they’re shelter dogs, we do actually have an age bracket that we like to work within. So, eight months up to three years. And the reason for that is because it then does take, say, up to the 18 months, sometimes a little bit longer to train one of these dogs fully and have them placed.

Angie Weeks:
And then we want to be able to have a 10 year working life of that dog. And that’s really important, because people don’t realize how many hours go into training one of these dogs. It’s actually just over 300 hours of training hours that we put in to one of these dogs from when we get them to when they’re then placed with a veteran or first responder. So there’s a lot of hours. So we really need to have that 10 year working life for the dog. That is pretty critical.

Angie Weeks:
The other thing for us… Hank is amazing, and Robbie, you’ve talked about the support that he gives you and that unconditional love, and he just knows when you’re not normal or not right, and he’s there by your side or with you in close. And that’s fantastic. He’s helping you. And there are so many people I’m sure listening that can go, “Yeah, I know. I’ve got a Chihuahua that is just amazing. Fearless little angel. Wants to kill the Great Danes and whatever out there, but for me, is just my little hero.” And that is so true.

Angie Weeks:
But I guess within the PTSD assistance dog realm, some of the things that we’ve learnt over the almost four years, seeing that it was May 2018 that we created the charity, I talked about before Master Archie, who’s the Cavoodle. He’s all of 13 kilos. Gorgeous boy. And I’d actually trained him as a PTSD assistance dog for a female police officer who was medically discharged with PTSD.

Angie Weeks:
And the connection was fantastic, everything was perfect. But what I learned was in public space, unfortunately, Master Archie, on travelators, escalators, in lifts, in busy places, just wasn’t seen. So what we found was that he was not safe in these busy environments, and in shopping centres, people would often walk straight through him and go, “Oh, sorry, didn’t see him.” And it’s the typical person texting on their mobile phone, walking through the shopping centre. They even walk into you and I, so what hope has a dog got, right?

Dave Simpson:
[crosstalk 00:52:17] Yeah. Shins. Yeah.

Angie Weeks:
So that is really important. We’ve created a set of rulings around the sizing of dogs. So we want them knee high. We need them to be around that 20 to 30 kg. And then it’s also really important that some breeds are much easier. I actually had a sable coloured… She was a boxer cross greyhound, but for all intents and purposes, many people thought that she looked like a Staffy or that sort of breed. And every time we took Addie into a shopping centre, we were stopped.

Angie Weeks:
She was perfect. By our side. Never interacted with anybody. Couldn’t give two hoots about anybody but her handler. She was amazing. But security would come and say, “What’s that dog doing in here?” She’s got a jacket on, we’ve got ID on, “What’s the dog doing in here?” So again, we just found for our handlers-

Dave Simpson:
It’s that perception.

Angie Weeks:
… that kind of mastiffy-looking breed is really hard and it just kept putting stress levels up. So every time we entered a shopping centre to be stopped and asked, it’s like, “Come on, guys.” So that’s why we like to go with the Labrador breeds, the oodle breeds. So the Labradoodles, the golden retriever cross poodle breeds, because they’re more known and accepted within that public space. People are more aware that Labradors very much… When you think guide dogs, you think Labradors, yeah? So assistance-

Robbie Turner:
That’s their symbol. That’s the plastic thing with the hole in the head that you put your…

Dave Simpson:
Your coins in.

Angie Weeks:
The money slot, yeah. So we’ve had to conform, unfortunately, and I don’t like that, because I think that it’s more about the dog’s ability and connection than it is actually about necessarily their breed. But size is important. We do need them to have their own self-confidence. They need to own a space, so that when they’re out in public spaces, they’re actually safe, they’re there, they own their space and they’re able to support their handler. They can create space, because they’re much more seen if they’re a Labrador or that minimum knee height, 30 [crosstalk 00:54:39]-

Robbie Turner:
Got that presence, haven’t they?

Angie Weeks:
Exactly.

Robbie Turner:
When you say, quickly, knee height, is it head or…

Dave Simpson:
Shoulder.

Robbie Turner:
… yeah, shoulder. Thanks, [crosstalk 00:54:46]-

Angie Weeks:
No, it’s the shoulder.

Robbie Turner:
Yeah, righto. Okay, good. Yeah.

Angie Weeks:
And then weight wise, we use that as the weight distribution. So, deep pressure therapy. So if you consider your little 4 kg on your chest, when you’re really anxious, versus say that 20 to 30 kg doing what we call a bear hug and down over your body, there’s a huge difference.

Robbie Turner:
Of course.

Angie Weeks:
And we know scientifically that that extra weight has a greater ability in grounding a person. So there’s a lot of research around weighted blankets.

Dave Simpson:
I was going to say that I have seen the studies and the talk about the weighted blankets. So it’s very relevant to the dogs as well.

Angie Weeks:
It absolutely is. And that’s why now we go with those bigger… that 20 to 30 kg.

Dave Simpson:
Yeah. That makes sense.

Angie Weeks:
Then did you know, if you got start going over that, I’m going to say upper limit of 35 kg, public access becomes a problem. Because these dogs are trained for public transport and going into these shopping centers, people actually say, or the public transport says, “Oh, that dog is too big.” If you need to fly with your assistance dog, airlines actually have height and size restrictions as well. And that’s really important. And it’s actually a safety aspect.

Dave Simpson:
Can people actually fly with the dogs in the cabins?

Robbie Turner:
I was going to ask that.

Angie Weeks:
Yes.

Robbie Turner:
I’m trying to find this photo for you. I’m not being rude, by the way. Because when you were saying that when a dog comes and sits on your chest, I want to just show you this quickly. Go for about the airline question though.

Dave Simpson:
So that’s allowed. Yeah.

Angie Weeks:
Absolutely. When they’re certified as a PTSD assistance dog, remembering, if you just say assistance, because that means they’re task driven, then yes they are.

Dave Simpson:
Oh, good.

Angie Weeks:
It is easier if you’ve got GAD certification, so Guide Hearing Assistance Dog certification, which is something that we are embarking on at the moment. Currently we are actually using federal legislation, so the Anti-Discrimination Act, which gives us complete access for our dogs and our humans.

Angie Weeks:
So you go back through our PTSD Facebook page, you’ll see a number of times that Roger and Rosie have been in hospital or in an ambulance, and some of our other handlers, where they take their dogs in with them. And it’s because the dogs are trained. There are places these dogs are still not allowed to go. So if you’re in a kitchen environment, obviously for food and hygiene, they’re not allowed to go into that environment.

Angie Weeks:
Some hospitals, and it varies, I’ve found, from hospital to hospital. Surgical ward. Some hospitals have allowed Roger and Rosie to be together. In other hospitals, they’ve gone, “No, it’s a surgical ward, therefore considered sterile environment.” Yep. This is another factor in ambulances. So whenever we need an ambulance… And I train all of our team, any of our handlers when they’ve got their dog, “If ever you need to be transported by ambulance, when you ring 00O, we always say, let the operator know that you’ve got your PTSD assistance dog and the dog does go everywhere with you.”

Angie Weeks:
That is really important, because you need to also consider that at their end, they might actually have a paramedic that has got allergens to dogs. So we have to be really aware that we have needs, but so do these organisations and people. So we’ve got to be aware and understanding of all of that.

Angie Weeks:
So whenever we ring up, and look, we’ve done so many 000 phone calls for my husband, it is part of the routine, and we’ve made that a standard protocol across the organization for all our handlers. If you ring 000, you need to let them know that your PTSD assistance dog will be going with you. There’s another advisor on that one as well and that is that sometimes, particularly for guys who’ve got spinal injury or physical injury, if you are going into hospital and you can’t toilet your dog on your own, then you can’t take your dog to hospital.

Angie Weeks:
So in that scenario, our team always just phone me and say, “I’m off to hospital. Can we organize for someone to please grab the dog?” Or they’ll take the dog with them and then we’ll meet them at hospital and then we’ll come and grab the dog. And the dog will come back with me and I’ll take care of their assistance dog.

Angie Weeks:
But then we go in and out, and I’ll just take the dog in, because let’s face it, you’re in hospital. It’s a crappy environment, very stressful. You want your dog with you. So we want to take the dog in to you and make sure that you’re calm and you’ve got that connection and that help from your dog again.

Dave Simpson:
Oh, that’s good.

Robbie Turner:
Very comprehensive. I’m blown away. I do want to show you this photo quickly. That’s Hank sitting on me a little while ago.

Angie Weeks:
I can sort of see it. It’s not quite focused, but…

Robbie Turner:
Oh, sorry. Daniel might sort us out. There we go.

Angie Weeks:
Hold. And stop. Beautiful. [crosstalk 01:00:15]-

Robbie Turner:
He was sat on my chest and I hardly didn’t even know he was there, but he felt like he had to sort of jump up there and do something. Let’s wrap it up here, just in the name of just keeping things reasonably brief. I’m blown away with the amount of information, the diversity of the types of dogs, all the different considerations.

Robbie Turner:
I wasn’t a dog lover before Hank came into my life, even though my wife Tamara’s got another little puppy called Molly. We’ve been together for better part of 10 years. So I’ve only had Hank about half that time, but only when you have your own dog… Molly is Tam’s dog, which I’ve learned to love and care for and all that sort of stuff. And similar, you’ve seen me with Molly.

Dave Simpson:
Molly’s amazing.

Robbie Turner:
Yeah, she’s great as well. A lot of the things that you described about some of the really awesome assistance dogs, calm, very, very responsive, very clever, loves pats from everybody, that’s Molly, right? Hank’s not like that at all. He’s much more of a bit of a crazy bugger. But I’m just blown away with how diverse your services are and then how knowledgeable you are.

Robbie Turner:
Angie, it’s been such a pleasure to have and sit here and listen, and we certainly will have you come back. I’m really keen on… So that’s all the theory behind it all. What type of dogs do you do? What services do you provide? All the differences, what to do if you see a dog, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. What I’m really keen on and I’m sure our listeners are as well is what does that mean in practicality terms from a case study perspective?

Robbie Turner:
So certainly continue to engage with my team on the back end here, and let’s have you come and join us in another few weeks or however that works out, and let’s get another episode under our belt, because I’d love to hear some of the real-time case studies. From a property perspective, sure, we talk about people’s ADF housing entitlements, and actually Dave takes care of all that for us, but it’s the case studies that bring it all to life, where people have that penny drop moment, they’re like, “Ah, that’s how it all works. All right, cool. Now I can take whatever next steps that are going to suit me.”

Robbie Turner:
I know there’s plenty of people out there right now that have not even reached out to PTSD Dogs Australia, that’ll certainly take the next step or put some things in place in their own mind to go, “I need to do that one day,” purely based on some of the words that have come out of you today, mate. So thank you so much for coming along.

Angie Weeks:
Absolute pleasure.

Dave Simpson:
Angie, just before we do wrap up, if someone does want to provide you some support through donations or their time, how do they get in contact with you?

Angie Weeks:
You can do the Facebook page, so PTSD Dogs Australia. We also have a website with links and information. So they can apply for a dog on there. They can do donations. There’s volunteering, fostering. All of those sorts of things are things that we need. And it’s ptsddogs.org.au, so P-T-S-D-D-O-G-S dot org dot A-U, is the website. It’s huge. It’s a big website with lots of information.

Angie Weeks:
So happy for people to go on there, but hey, if you need to talk and you want to… Because often it’s just easier to pick up the phone. It’s 0488-101-026. So 0488-101-026. Happy to have a chat with people. Currently, I do need to just put a thing in their saying with COVID and our size, we’re working within 150 kilometre radius of the Sunshine Coast. So basically, currently, people who are within sort of heading down to Brisbane Central and as far up as, say, Harvey Bay, that’s the radius that we’re working currently with veterans and first responders and giving them their dog.

Angie Weeks:
So that is the facility that we’re working within at the moment. We know that as time goes on and we grow and get stronger and get all our systems in place, we do want to do a, what do they call it, a cookie cutter system, whereby all the systems that are in place and we can just duplicate. Bit like McDonald’s franchise. Not that we franchise what we’re doing, because we give our dogs and we’re not… It’s being a not for profit, but that’s what we’re actually working on. We can then roll this out slowly and gradually right across Australia, but definitely within Queensland at the moment.

Dave Simpson:
Lovely.

Angie Weeks:
And being there for people.

Robbie Turner:
We’ll make sure those links and the phone number are just in the text of what you see on the YouTube and the other social media posts, please, Daniel. That’ll be good. Angie, again, thank you so much. I know you’re super busy, mate. You’re the chief everything officer, as you described about an hour or so ago. So we’ll be in touch again real soon. And ladies and gents, watch this space. There’s more PTSD Dogs case studies coming your way. Thanks, Angie.

Dave Simpson:
Thanks, Angie.

Angie Weeks:
Thanks, guys.

Dave Simpson:
Bye.

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