Alissa has always had an interest in mental health as well as a passion for animals. Her desire to incorporate both into her life led her to Animal Assisted Therapy. She was lucky to have the perfect dog enter her life when he was a semi-mature three-year-old, having spent his life at two different homes attempting to be a working dog. Alissa and Oscar spent many years volunteering at psychiatric wards while completing her undergraduate degree in psychology. They completed the Lead the Way certification program and began working with Canine Comprehension in 2019 facilitating reading tails groups which suited her other passion for reading.
These days the study is still ongoing with Alissa now working through a doctorate in clinical and forensic psychology. She has experience working with children and adults presenting with a range of psychological and neurodevelopmental issues and has a particular interest in early intervention and working with disadvantaged populations.
Oscar is a ten-year-old Kelpie (born in 2011) with a gift for connecting people and can win over even his harshest critics with an astounding level of trust, patience and non-judgemental love. Oscar has spent his life trying out different roles to find the work that best suited his talents. His first endeavour was as a cattle herder on a cattle farm, then a guard dog at a horse stable before finally finding that therapy work was the role most suited to his friendly demeanour.
Oscar’s first therapeutic role was volunteering with Delta Therapy Dogs, where he visited psychiatric wards for a number of years. It was through seeing the tremendous impact that these weekly visits made for patients and staff that encouraged the team to take their services further. Oscar began working with Canine Comprehension in 2019 and has flourished in this role helping kids to gain confidence while reading or interacting with others, learning about their emotions, body language and developing problem solving skills all while making lasting connections.