Meet Service Dog Tilly

Service Dog Tilly

My name is Matilda (Tilly) and I am a black and white, female Border Collie – after the origin of the breed at Scottish and English border.

At the age of 18 months, my owner (Fiona) decided to put me on a Defence dog training programme to assist with her complex, post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).  I took to the training like a duck to water and passed my ‘in-training’ jacket test on the first attempt.  I was also part of the ANZAC parade at Redlands in 2019 – which was a great honour.  My owner said I was better than the police dog pups on the parade as I had one in front and one behind me.

We had a break for two years as the dog training programme was brutal and unsupportive for my owner – who often had panick attacks there.  In April, 2022 we came across Paws for Hope and Understanding at a Soldier On meeting.  We had contact with them and ended up having three lessons to refresh our prior learning.  Since then, I’ve learnt to get on escalators and travellators which I could never do before.  I’m much better at keeping beside my owner and being attentive to her needs.  I’ve also been on a bus with no problems.

My owner and I are much happier at Paws for Hope and Understanding as the trainer is SO supportive, kind and gentle.  She attends the needs of the owner/dog handler as well as the dog and ensures we work happily as a team.  We didn’t find other dog programmes (even after enquiries) very supportive of the humans.  The focus was too much on the dog training and reprimanding the owner for errors – rather than focusing on the owner’s needs with the disability.  We are much happier at Paws for Hope and Understanding as they take the time to assist us, and genuinely care about the veteran and the dog.

At the moment, we are working on tasks such as ‘backing’, ‘cover’ (where the dog assists when you have a panic attack) and ‘crowd control’.  Here, the dog can ‘circle’ around you in public to provide much-needed space.