Canine Comprehension team members are a group of passionate and experienced allied health professionals, educators and dog trainers who share a vision of creating more harmonious therapeutic relationships between humans and dogs.
Meet Sarah: Tutor, Dog Trainer and Owner of Canine Comprehension
Sarah manages many of the aspects of Canine Comprehension and needs to learn to delegate responsibility! She has a love of learning and enjoys nothing more than encouraging her students to discuss texts and develop their own understanding.
Sarah is both a Teacher and Professional Dog Trainer. She has taught English in Australia and overseas. She holds a Ba Arts (History/Politics), a Masters in Teaching. Sarah has been a curriculum developer in secondary schools and adult education for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. By being involved in both education and dog training, Sarah saw the opportunity to use obedient dogs to help students learn. Dogs are used by therapists, assisting in the emotional well-being of clients. Dogs are also used in schools to improve reading aloud and create a positive learning environment. Sarah saw an opportunity to further explore this concept by teaching students to use dogs as metaphors for the learning process.
Meet Louise: Operations Manager
Louise looks after all the administrative functions for Canine Comprehension and anything else Sarah throws her way. She has a strong interest in dog training and in particular, rescue dogs. Louise recently rescued an older dog, Molly, who has been attending training with Sarah for over a year now. At first Molly had a fear of other dogs, but now loves spending time with them, and particularly loves the pats from their owners!
Louise has a personal interest in dog assisted therapy and is excited to be working with such highly dedicated, passionate and professional people.
Meet Jenny: Bookkeeping/Payroll Administrator
Jenny is responsible for the accounting/bookkeeping side of the business and enjoys working to help
children and especially where dogs are involved. She has been involved in dog training with Canine
Comprehension, since her poodle Molly was one and has trained with Sarah during that time. Now Molly
is just on 5 years of age, she is a lovely, friendly and a family orientated dog. Molly is on her way to becoming a trained therapy dog.
Jenny has worked as an Accounts Manager for the past 16 years at Kalparrin Early Childhood
Intervention Centre in Greensborough and loves working with the children and their families.
Jenny is currently a helper with Dog Training and is undertaking training to become a Puppy School Trainer
She is excited to becoming part of a professional and remarkable team, who make
a difference with the lives of Children and their families through Dog Therapy.
Meet Jim: School Program Tutor
Jim is a qualified Family Therapist, Youth Worker and Relationships Counsellor and has over 24 years’ experience in working young people, families and children with challenging and complex needs. Jim has worked for a diverse range of organisations including Drug and Alcohol Services, Youth Services, Family Service Organisations, Family Relationship Services, Community Health and Local Government. Jim has a collaborative and reflective approach to working with families, couples, young people and children in helping them and empowering them to make positive changes in their lives and strengthening and improving relationships. Jim has a strong interest in narrative, solution focused and systemic approaches to his work.
Jim is also passionate about the field of Animal Assisted Therapy, utilising animals (particularly dogs) therapeutically with humans in a counselling setting and in other animal assistance work. Jim owns two therapy dogs, Ziggy the Groodle and Ruby the miniature schnauzer. He has completed the Animal Assistance Therapy training and accreditation with Lead the Way and has completed a Certificate in dog behaviour and training from the National Dog Trainers Federation.
Meet Penny: School Program Tutor
Penny is a Masters qualified Mental Health Clinician with a specific interest in working with people to promote thriving relationships. She uses what we know about the brain and development to help adults to understand the 'What', 'Why', and 'How' of meeting the needs of others, particularly children. For the past eight years, she has worked extensively with children, youth and families as a school-employed welfare officer, as well as in community-based counselling, social work and advocacy roles across metropolitan Melbourne, before finding her feet in running her own business, 'Capacity Therapeutic Services'. To ensure a high quality of intervention, she draws upon Play Therapy, Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, trauma-informed practice and child developmental theories, and manages to balance fun with professionalism.
Penny uses the power of connection to promote positive outcomes for her clients. With an Animal-Assisted Intervention & Therapy Dog Certification in hand, she values being able to include her precious schnoodle, Ralph, in this process. She believes passionately in the benefits of Dog-Assisted Intervention, especially in supporting children on their learning journey, and feels blessed to be part of the Canine Comprehension team sharing Ralphy’s joy with others.
Meet Chelsie: School Program Tutor / Dog Trainer
Chelsie is a qualified Primary Teacher and has been passionate about dogs her entire life. She is dedicated towards new initiatives for improving student wellbeing and found including her dogs as a natural progression.
As a devoted dog lover, Chelsie consistently builds on her knowledge of dog wellbeing and training. She loves to share her insights with others to ensure we fully experience the kaleidoscope of wealth dogs can bring to our lives.
Chelsie works with her charming Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Joosh (as in the French je + “oosh”). Joosh is a certified therapy dog and has been dubbed ‘the cuddle machine’. Forever dreaming of living in a house full of dogs, Chelsie also has a ‘ray of sunshine’ Golden Retriever, Honey.
Meet Donna: School Program Tutor
Donna is a qualified Social Worker with over 25 years of experience in child and family therapy within Australia, Papua New Guinea and China. In particular, Donna has focused her skill-sets in the areas of play therapy, trauma informed, and cultural responsiveness practice. A systemic and collaborative approach underpins Donna's therapeutic process with her service users, empowering them to make the positive life changes they seek.
Donna has facilitated animal assisted therapy with Coco and Cookie at several schools in the Dandenong Area. Coco and Cookie are 4-year-old Cocker Spaniels who enjoy coming to school with her. She has incorporated both dogs into numerous sessions with children who have experienced issues related to attachment, trauma, disengagement, emotional regulation and defiance. Donna is able to correlate her dogs’ behaviours and personalities with the student’s, thus incorporating animal assisted therapy into their learning and/or therapeutic plans.
Meet Alison: School Program Tutor
Alison has worked as an Early Childhood Educator and consultant in a variety of settings for
more than 25 years. She is passionate about children’s health & wellbeing and values the
positive impact that animals can bring into people’s lives.
Alison believes in establishing collaborative and respectful relationships with children and their
families and providing safe, fun and supportive environments where children can thrive and
have the opportunity to enhance their learning and development.
Throughout her work, Alison has seen first hand the connections that animals can create for
children, which fuelled her desire to increase her knowledge and skills in animal assisted
She is the Mum of two teenage children who adore their beautiful Border Collie named Jett.
Alison and Jett completed their AAT certification with Lead the way in March 2018 and feel
privileged to be part of the incredible team at Canine Comprehension.
Meet Mandy: School Program Tutor (currently on Maternity leave)
Mandy has a background in social work and has completed a masters of Business Coaching and has an Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) trained dog.
Mandy has worked in the welfare community sector for 11 years at Anglicare and Neami National working within mental health, homelessness, disability services, and foster care. Mandy has a passion for early intervention and making a difference to other people.
Mandy's years of experience saw her wanting to have more tools and interventions which then lead her to the world of AAT, where in 2012, she and her best friend Rubi (Spoodle) started their next journey in life together. Mandy is also an awesome mum to a beautiful 22 month old boy who has changed her world for the better in so many ways.
Mandy believes in AAT and sees positive change and reward in offering it as a technique and tool to clients individually and in groups. Mandy is passionate about working with people and appreciates the stories and rewards she sees along the way.
Mandy is excited about Canine Comprehension's vision and mission and feels extremely grateful and hopeful to walk alongside and see it grow and bring change to people's lives; both dogs and humans.
Meet Roz: School Program Tutor
Roz has a background in Adult Education and in 2016 completed a Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP). She has a chocolate Labradoodle called Flash who is a qualified Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) dog.
Roz and Flash have been a therapy team for over six years, soothing and strengthening patients at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, first in Rehabilitation (eg: amputations and acquired brain injury) and more recently, Mental Health and Eating Disorders. They have also been part of a successful trial program at a Berry Street Education Model school.
After seeing so many life enhancing transformations as a result of AAT, Roz decided to pursue further study within the field of Positive Psychology at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Her focus throughout the program remained on Animal Assisted Therapy and Savouring and how they increase well being. She is looking forward to working with Sarah and the Canine Comprehension team.
Meet Glenda: School Program Tutor
Glenda is a mother of 4 and nana of 2 and has always had a love of children and dogs. She has had extensive experience in working with children in a variety of settings, having previously worked as an Integration Aide with special needs children in Kindergarten and Primary School settings and lately as Receptionist at Kalparrin Early Childhood Intervention Centre.
Glenda appreciates the benefit of animal assisted therapy and witnessed this first hand with her dog Buster at Kalparrin. Buster, a 3 year old mini Labradoodle, and Glenda have trained with Canine Comprehension since puppy school and still attend Sarah’s ‘Great Dog’ training sessions. They have completed the Animal Assisted Therapy Dog training and accreditation with “Lead the Way” to enable Glenda to achieve her dream of working with dogs and children.
Glenda is very excited to be part of the Canine Comprehension team, a dedicated, motivated group of professionals, and is looking forward to providing children with the benefit of interaction with a therapy dog.
Meet Jovana: School Program Tutor
Jovana understands that developing and delivering a personal learning program for kids on the Autism spectrum takes a lot of patience, care and attention to detail, but loves nothing more than to see the children she works with learn new skills in a fun and interactive way. Introducing an animal to her sessions has only added to this enjoyment with great success. Jovana also enjoys celebrating the small wins while working towards greater goals.
Jovana has a Graduate Diploma in Psychology and is currently undertaking her Honours in Psychology. Jovana currently works in community mental health and has over 4 years experience supporting children with ASD. Jovana has a very special bond with her 2 year old rescue dog, Chachka, who was certified as a therapy dog in 2016 and will be working with Jovana in the delivery of the Dog Assisted Learning school programs.
Meet Susie: School Program Tutor
Susie has over 30 years of experience as a Primary School teacher. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Education and a Graduate Diploma in Oral Language. Student well being is her passion and area of expertise. She has specialist training and experience in relaxation techniques, mindfulness, massage, grief counselling and resilience programs. Susie believes that building positive relationships with students and providing them with a safe and happy learning environment is crucial for their personal growth. With Barney, her Golden Labrador, beside her she is able to provide a creative learning space where students can achieve success.
Meet Hannah: Assistant Trainer
Hannah is one of our helpers at our dog school. You may catch her at Eltham Dog school, signing owners in, taking photos and even running coffees...if you're lucky! Her first dog was a Lakeland Terrier named Maddie and she has been passionate about dogs ever since. Hannah is interested in dog training, particularly when it comes to training her own dog, Archie. Archie is also a Lakeland Terrier and has been in training with Canine Comprehension since he was a puppy. Hannah is looking forward to a time when Archie is trained to an advanced level and can be trusted off leash.
Her favourite thing about helping with dog school is learning new things and watching all the dogs and owners' progress.
Meet Sue: Dog Trainer
Sue runs almost all of our private dog lessons and every so often you can see her teaching at our dog schools. She is passionate about building relationships with our clients, who can in turn build better relationships with their dogs. Sue has rehabilitated her own dogs and understands the difficulties that lie with training in the home environment, especially when it comes to everyday distraction and juggling family commitments and training a dog.
Sue has spent over 7 years working as a professional at the top of her game in the dog industry and brings a wealth of knowledge in dog sitting, boarding, doggie day care, obedience training and behavioural rehabilitation. Sue also offers her own unique home boarding service, where you can leave your dog when you go on holiday, and they get to have a holiday of their own. If you are lucky enough, and book in early your dog may get the opportunity of having a home stay with our fantastic trainer.