News • 18 Nov 2019

PTSD Assistance dog gives greater independence for Kylie

Kylie, 47, based in Queensland’s Victoria Point, has a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) assistance dog which enables her to access the community and manage triggers.

Kylie has been with her dog, Destiny, for three years now since she was a puppy, and says that the dog is her “lifeline”.

Destiny, a Border Collie, has been specially trained with the help of Disability Aid Dogs (D.A.D), and now knows to respond to Kylie’s cues when she’s feeling anxious. 

Kylie said: “I am affected by certain triggers when I’m out and about, resulting from my experiences as a domestic violence and mental health survivor. 

“When my PTSD is triggered, this can send my breathing into a very shallow hyperventilating state.

“Destiny has been trained to put her face against my chest when she senses I’m anxious and not breathing properly, this reminds me to stop and take deep breaths and calm down.”

Kylie has recently been approved for NDIS funding and is waiting to find out what her plan outcome is.

Open Minds has been supporting Kylie for three years now and her Support Worker, Grahame, helped to guide her through the application process.

Grahame said: “Kylie’s NDIS package should mean she has funding for the psychological support she needs as well as Support Workers to assist with everyday things.

“Destiny has made a huge difference to Kylie’s life. I’ve seen her be stuck indoors before Destiny came along but now she’s out and about all the time.” 

Grahame helped advocate for Kylie through the NDIS application and his persistence and encouragement has provided a great outcome for Kylie.

Kylie went through a lengthy process to acquire Destiny: she researched the right assistance dog trainer, sourced a suitable breeder, found a local vet, and connected with a dog behavioural specialist.

D.A.D gave Kylie advice on what types of dog breeds have the right types of temperaments to be assistance dogs.

This informed Kylie’s decision to choose a Border Collie – a highly active breed to help her become more active again, both emotionally and pshysically.

Once Kylie had found Destiny through a breeder, her vet connected her with a local dog trainer, Vicki Pinn, to begin the training process.

Kylie said: “Vicki has been amazing, she now works at D.A.D too.

“Getting to where I am today is a result of the combined efforts of Vicki and the team at D.A.D, Destiny, and my own determination – we are all very connected.”

With the support of her assistance dog, Destiny, Kylie is able to get out and about more

Kylie is passionate about animals and believes that all animals have the potential to promote positive mental health in people.

Kylie said “Since I’ve had Destiny, life has become so much better. 

“I can now get out in public, look people in the eye and have real conversations which is something that felt too much at one stage.

“I’ve worked with Grahame since day 1 and he’s always encouraged me to keep going.

“The support that Open Minds provides me with helps my kids too, as they can now recognise that Mum’s not well but she’s doing the best she can.”

Kylie has seven children, two of which are still minors and live with her and Destiny.

Kylie’s next goals are to go to Tasmania on a holiday to see her sister who lives there, but first she plans to get Destiny certified to accompany her on the plane.

She is also determined to get back to work, starting with some volunteering; Kylie will soon start taking Destiny to a nursing home to allow the elderly to spend some time with an affectionate pup.

Kylie said: “If it wasn’t for Open Minds and Destiny, I don’t think I’d be here today.”

Grahame, Open Minds Support Worker, with client Kylie and her assistance dog, Destiny

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