Our History

Our History
The people

Who are we?

We began in 2011 when Cath Phillips discovered just how hard it was to find someone who would accredit her dog Buddy. Having bipolar II, Cath realised that she was more stable and relaxed when her three Ridgebacks were with her. But three big dogs were too much to take to the supermarket. Cath decided that Buddy was the best dog for what she needed and downloaded a Public Access Test from the net. She then spent a considerable amount of time trying to find a trainer who would test Buddy for her. Finally, she found Mali Rolph from See Spot Run and Buddy passed his test with flying colours.

In February of 2012, the first two dogs were certified. mindDog operates under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 which guarantees public access for all dogs trained as assistance dogs.

The vision

What do we do?

A mindDog is a psychiatric assistance dog. An assistance dog (also known as a service dog) is covered by the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992. An assistance dog is trained to assist their handler in public and is guaranteed access to all public places including shopping centres, hospitals, public transport and restaurants. According to this Act, an assistance dog is trained to alleviate the effect of a disability and must meet standards of hygiene and behaviour.

mindDog assists mental health sufferers to procure, train and certify psychiatric assistance dogs. These dogs assist people with mental health disorders whose lives are often severely
compromised by anxiety and fear. With their mindDog they are able to travel on public transport, access public places and take part in social activities which have been closed off to them.

The relationships

How do we do it?

Before your dog becomes a mindDog there are some fundamentals you both have to know. How good is your dog at basic obedience? Does he sit on command? Will he drop and stay? If you are in a busy place with lots of distractions, does him come when you call him? Will he walk calmly beside you on a loose lead without pulling or lunging? How is she with kids or other dogs? Does she bark frantically if she’s excited?

These are all things you both need to have well under control before he gets his mindDog Trainee vest. If your dog isn’t so good at the basics, you may want to join a local obedience club for some help. If social anxiety is a problem for you there are some great training books and videos on the net. There is a list on our resources page. Remember, mindDog recommends positive response training only.

mindDog Australia

Our Beginning

mindDog started in 2011 with just 1 person and 1 mindDog, and has now grown to dozens of volunteers and over 550 clients and their mindDogs.

Meet the people that make mindDog work

mindDog Board Members

Meet the members of the board of directors, the people that help make the mindDog organisation possible.

Tom Hatfield
Tom Hatfield
Tom was brought up in a family that believed in helping others, which started out in high school as part of the American Red Cross Candystripers that worked in nursing
Cath Phillips
Cath Phillips
Cath is the chair of the board and the founder of mindDog in 2011. She is located north of Sydney on a small farm. She created mindDog after realising the
Gayl O’Grady
Gayl O’Grady
Gayl O’Grady has been training dogs for over thirty six years. She is a Certificate IV Delta trainer which means she uses only kindness and force free methods. Working at