Enjoying the company of man’s best friend is one of life’s simple pleasures, so it’s no surprise dogs can offer a step up for those seeking peace of mind.
For the past 12 months, emergency services worker Paul Roadley has managed PTSD-related depression and anxiety symptoms with the support of his four-legged friend, accredited mindDog Luna. But not satisfied to just enjoy the palliative benefits of his furry companion, Paul is travelling around Australia with his wife and his four step-kids towing a Cub Camper, raising awareness and funds for Lifeline and mindDog as part of his ‘Driving Oz with the Black Dog’ tour.
“I worked in Roxby Downs and, being with the emergency department, I know many smaller communities don’t necessary know what’s out there and available to them; we’re trying to let people know there are dogs that can help,” Paul explains.
Paul says Luna keeps an eye on his anxiety.
“She’ll actually respond to my the cues; she’ll initially lick my hand and if I don’t respond she stands up on me and she tries to bring me out of it. She’ll also wake me out of a night terror,” says Paul.
Luna responds before Paul is aware of the signs.
“She actually started off as our pet. When I had the breakdown, Kirstine did some research and put Luna through a program with mindDogs; she earned her accreditation two days before we left,” says Paul.
It took the family nine months to plan the event, inspired by his doctor’s recommendation to travel.
“We’ve been super lucky with the product donations; the Nissan Patrol on loan is a limited edition and Cub provided us with a camper, which they’ll offer up for auction to raise funds for our charity at the end of the tour. Cub really stepped up,” says Paul.
Paul intends to introduce Luna to those living out in remote communities throughout the tour and talk about how she positively impacts his life.
“Many communities have reached out. We are always looking for more communities and groups to talk to but some of our best conversations have been with those who we’ve met out in the street. In Silverton yesterday, we started talking to a few people, and reached out to one police officer there who had seen lots of bad incidents. He said he got a lot out of our discussion. I think it’s really important to get out there and show people what’s available to them, and not tell them all about it from a distant department sitting in a city-based office,” says Paul.
Paul says the trip has been a real adventure for the whole family, including Luna.
“Our kids are pretty resilient, and they love the camping. We sleep in the camper and they sleep in the rooftop tent,” says Paul. “They still have to do school work, though and are enrolled in SIDE (Schools of Isolated and Distance Education).
“Luna loves working for me and when we’re camped up she just runs around nuts with the kids." Paul says travelling with Luna hasn’t limited access to destinations as there's a legal exemption for certified assisted dogs.