BEHIND the scenes at the Invictus Games Dido’s been waiting patiently at press conferences, she’s even enjoyed a cuddle from Prince Harry.
They rely solely on corporate support and funding to train both the dogs and their humans. Picture: Anna Meares/TwitterSource:Twitter
BEHIND the scenes at the Invictus Games Dido’s been waiting patiently at press conferences and sitting quietly through interviews, she’s even enjoyed a cuddle from Prince Harry.
The black labrador is one of 10 service dogs on hand inside the Invictus Games House providing competitors a boost of morale.
“The dogs have an immediate calming affect and a happy affect, so the endorphins come through and people settle right down,” Integra Service Dogs chairman Mark Holmes told AAP.
“It really is quite an amazing affect.”
Before the games officially started Dido accompanied Australian co-captain Matthew Brumby while he attended various media calls.
“I had her today for the first time, she’s not shy at all she’s awesome,” Mr Brumby told AAP.
“These dogs are just so understanding and we are learning together.”
Integra is a not-for-profit matching veterans and first responders up with suitable dog partners.
The dogs are specially trained by former servicemen and women who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.
This is done by socialising them with lots of people and having strangers constantly approaching and patting the dogs so they are comfortable during times of stress.
The program begins when a dog is paired up with a veteran who then follows a training schedule for the next six to 12 months. This way the dog becomes attuned to the veteran’s specialised needs and triggers.
If their veteran is re-experiencing past trauma the dogs will distract and ground them, moving their attention to physical actions like licking and pawing. “We find the stressed veterans respond really well with this kind of dog,” Mr Homes said.
The four-legged friends of the Invictus competitors will be on rotation at Sydney Olympic Park with about four or five inside the communal house area at all times.
They will be on duty until the games wrap up on Saturday, October 27.