Deni vet­eran trains a help­ful Young Dig­ger for his friend

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - NEWS -

When Wayne Dun­bar’s Hunt­away kelpie had an ‘‘af­fair’’ with the black re­triever next door to his De­niliquin home, it turned out to be a bless­ing in dis­guise.

The re­sult­ing puppy, ‘Zeus’, ended up show­ing such prom­ise in his train­ing that Mr Dun­bar de­cided to turn him in to an as­sis­tance dog.

It was all done in con­junc­tion with the Young Dig­gers Dog Squad pro­gram, which specif­i­cally trains dogs to pro­vide com­pan­ion­ship and as­sis­tance to ser­vice per­son­nel with Post Trau­matic Stress Dis­or­der.

Once Zeus had com­pleted ba­sic train­ing, Mr Dun­bar gifted him to his friend and for­mer army com­rade Don Hughes.

‘‘I started the train­ing and once I got Zeus to the right level, I rang Don and said he should come to De­niliquin be­cause I had a gift for him,’’ Mr Dun­bar said.

‘‘I have al­ways trained dogs, but this is the first time I have trained one for this pur­pose.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple come out of the ser­vice in a very dif­fer­ent men­tal state than when they en­tered. They can of­ten get lonely, and a dog like Zeus is one com­pan­ion that never changes.

‘‘He has fit in to Don’s fam­ily well, bond­ing with his wife Michelle and their three chil- dren. Zeus has changed Don’s life.’’

Zeus has also been of great help to Mr Dun­bar since he frac­tured his leg ear­lier this year.

‘‘Don wanted to come and see how I was af­ter I frac­tured my leg, and he asked if I would like to see Zeus,’’ Mr Dun­bar said.

‘‘Zeus was pop­u­lar each morn­ing at De­niliquin Hos­pi­tal. One morn­ing he wasn’t with me and all the staff asked af­ter him.’’

Zeus is also pop­u­lar at the repa­tri­a­tion hos­pi­tals and other venues Mr Hughes vis­its through­out Vic­to­ria to pro­mote the Young Dig­gers Dog Squad pro­gram.

Mr Hughes re­tired as an Army en­gi­neer with the rank of Lieu­tenant Colonel.

He served in Mindi, Pa­pua New Guinea do­ing re­con­struc­tion work for the Pa­pua New Guinea govern­ment.

He was also part of the United Na­tions de-min­ing team which aided in Mozam­bique, Africa be­ing the first area to be free of mines and led the as­sis­tance fol­low­ing the tsunami in Banda Aceh in 2004, in­clud­ing work to pu­rify the wa­ter.

Wayne Dun­bar and his Army buddy Don Hughes with ‘Zeus’, who Wayne specif­i­cally trained as an as­sis­tance dog for his friend.

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