Veteran Paul with his new puppy Frazer

A New Challenge for Ivanhoe ESA Veteran

* 17 December 2021 *

Paul is pictured here with his dog, Mil (being a good boy) and his new puppy, Frazer (still in training). Paul is a contemporary veteran and achieved the rank of Warrant Officer Second Class in the Australian Army, and he is a resident at our Ivanhoe Ex-Service Accommodation. Paul recently began a Certificate III in Dog Training, thanks to support from Hero’s Wish.

This is Paul’s Story (with his permission)

I have struggled to deal with life and its curved balls for a long time now. About 5 years ago, it was suggested to me to go to a place called ‘Mates for Mates’ on a Tuesday night and meet the veterans from ‘Hounds for Healing’. They provide assistance dogs to veterans in Townsville.

I was very unsure about going as at that point I wasn’t coping well at all. A friend took me down and I met a few of the veterans and their dogs and was told I should join the group and train a service dog for myself. After six weeks they still were unable to locate a dog for me.

I was close to the edge so I went to the RSPCA and asked if they had any pups. They showed me a couple of puppies one of which was Mil.

As soon as I left in the car with Mil, I felt a sense of responsibility and purpose. I attended training with Mil consistently over the following 2 years. During this time, I began to feel comfortable being around other people and outdoors with Mil by my side as we were both learning to work together.

I still struggle, I still have bad times, however with Mil to assist me I can function when things are tough. Simple things that for a long time were difficult to achieve have become easier for me over time and Mil has changed my life.

I look back over the past 5 years from homelessness to suicide attempts to now. I have a stable home and I have Mil to look after (or he looks after me, not sure!).

As a result of my own personal experience being supported and encouraged by fellow veterans through mine and Mil’s training, I see how much difference a service dog makes to your general day to day life.

I would love to do this course so that I am in a position to give back to the veteran community. I have always loved and trained dogs in the past and now I feel even more strongly about the connection with a dog and its handler. This is an area of veteran support that desperately needs work. For example, DVA now provide service dogs; however, there are hoops to jump through and it takes up to 2 years to receive a dog.

Doing it the way I did, you conduct the training together and grow together as a team. So, while your dog may not yet be qualified, the training and community itself provides healing and purpose.

I have had dogs since I was a child, have always trained my dog in basic obedience. Until I conducted my service dog training with Mil over a 2 year period I had never received any formal training on dogs, but feel I am in a good position to further my knowledge.

The dream/purpose of undertaking this course is I would like to help set up a Vasey RSL Care service dog training school as part of the V Centre in the future.

This course will be a good starting point for me to better able myself to help other veterans train their dogs to support them as a service dog.


To undertake the course, Paul is training his new puppy, Frazer, while Mil continues as his assistance dog.