REAL PEOPLE

Paul Roadley lends a help­ing hand

Camper Trailer Australia - - CONTENTS - Pics KIRSTine ROADLEY

EN­JOY­ING THE com­pany of man’s best friend is one of life’s sim­ple plea­sures, so it’s no sur­prise dogs can of­fer a step up for those seek­ing peace of mind. For the past 12 months, emer­gency ser­vices worker Paul Roadley has man­aged PTSD-re­lated de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety symp­toms with the sup­port of his four-legged friend, ac­cred­ited mindDog Luna. But not sat­is­fied to just en­joy the pal­lia­tive ben­e­fits of his furry com­pan­ion, Paul is trav­el­ling around Australia with his wife and his four step-kids tow­ing a Cub Camper, rais­ing aware­ness and funds for Life­line and mindDog as part of his ‘Driv­ing Oz with the Black Dog’ tour. “I worked in Roxby Downs and, be­ing with the emer­gency depart­ment, I know many smaller com­mu­ni­ties don’t nec­es­sary know what’s out there and avail­able to them; we’re try­ing to let people know there are dogs that can help,” Paul ex­plains. Paul says Luna keeps an eye on his anx­i­ety. “She’ll ac­tu­ally re­spond to my the cues; she’ll ini­tially lick my hand and if I don’t re­spond she stands up on me and she tries to bring me out of it. She’ll also wake me out of a night ter­ror,” says Paul. Luna re­sponds be­fore Paul is aware of the signs. “She ac­tu­ally started off as our pet. When I had the break­down, Kirstine did some re­search and put Luna through a pro­gram with mindDogs; she earned her ac­cred­i­ta­tion two days be­fore we left,” says Paul. It took the family nine months to plan the event, in­spired by his doc­tor’s rec­om­men­da­tion to travel. “We’ve been su­per lucky with the prod­uct do­na­tions; the Nis­san Pa­trol on loan is a lim­ited edi­tion and Cub pro­vided us with a camper, which they’ll of­fer up for auc­tion to raise funds for our char­ity at the end of the tour. Cub re­ally stepped up,” says Paul. Paul in­tends to in­tro­duce Luna to those liv­ing out in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties through­out the tour and talk about how she pos­i­tively im­pacts his life. “Many com­mu­ni­ties have reached out. We are al­ways look­ing for more com­mu­ni­ties and groups to talk to but some of our best con­ver­sa­tions have been with those who we’ve met out in the street. In Sil­ver­ton yes­ter­day, we started talking to a few people, and reached out to one police of­fi­cer there who had seen lots of bad in­ci­dents. He said he got a lot out of our dis­cus­sion. I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant to get out there and show people what’s avail­able to them, and not tell them all about it from a dis­tant depart­ment sit­ting in a city-based of­fice,” says Paul. Paul says the trip has been a real ad­ven­ture for the whole family, in­clud­ing Luna. “Our kids are pretty re­silient, and they love the camp­ing. We sleep in the camper and they sleep in the rooftop tent,” says Paul. “They still have to do school work, though and are en­rolled in SIDE (Schools of Iso­lated and Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion). “Luna loves work­ing for me and when we’re camped up she just runs around nuts with the kids." Paul says trav­el­ling with Luna hasn’t lim­ited ac­cess to des­ti­na­tions as there's a le­gal ex­emp­tion for cer­ti­fied as­sisted dogs. Visit drivin­gozblack­dog.com

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