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I have noticed a significant difference in the students' abilities to identify feelings and express them. They have used different strategies, taught in the program, to understand and regulate these feelings. The activities and feelings strategies were so cleverly weaved into the program that it didn't feel disjointed or forced.

One student I work with in wellbeing sessions recently came to me following feeling dysregulated and said he used the three Cs to regulate himself. This student has found it difficult to express his feelings and has punched a classroom wall out of frustration in the past. I have had a few students who participated in the program mention that they have used the three Cs to check and change their feelings.

One student who has been in and out of foster homes and very disengaged at school (difficult to get him to attend things and be on time) was very much engaged in the dog therapy program. This student did not want to come at first but felt very connected to Jonesy and became easier to convince him to attend. This student has been very excited for the program and expressed joy for Jonesy.

Tarneit P-9 College - 24-Jun-2024
At the beginning of the program, the student was scared of Victor and would sit with his legs up on the chair so Victor wouldn't touch him. The student would also bring a familiar staff member along with him for support. As Mini was developing some self-confidence for the student, he was able to have a curiosity and was able to attend the session without his familiar classroom staff member and would eventually put one finger on Victors back. gradually throughout the sessions, the student developed enough confidence to sit on the floor with Victor and give him lots of pats, engaging in all of the activities. Each week when I go to collect this student, he shows excitement at the prospect of seeing Mini and Victor each week. He is starting to answer questions with more than 1 word answers and has been noticably smiling more.
From Fear to Friendship: A Journey of Confidence with Victor and Mini - Jacana School of Autism - 20-Mar-2024

The students were initially apprehensive and worried about why they had been
chosen for the program. As the weeks progressed their attitudes towards attending and engaging with the
lessons had become much more positive as they were recognising that this opportunity is a great
privilege and that the style of learning with the therapy dog is highly engaging and dynamic. The group of
students became much more cohesive, connected and supportive of each another as the weeks went by.

Brunswick South West Primary School - 20-Nov-2023

The confidence and engagement that the students displayed after each session.
Each of the students left the program with strategies and skills that they can continue to use well beyond
the program.

St Paul's Primary School - Kealba - 14-Nov-2023

Sherice and Joesy have been a pleasure to work with. Always punctual and very well organised. The lesson is explicitly laid out on the board and discussed clearly. The boys have been very engaged and are developing a wonderful bond with Jonesy.

Salesian College - Chadstone - 18-Oct-2023

Loving canine so far this term. Helen and Ned have been great, and the kids are beginning to engage more with the content discussed, as opposed to just being there to play with Ned :).

Mornington Secondary College - 18-Oct-2023

Students have been more comfortable in discussing friendship and
communication experiences with each other. They are far more accepting of each other now than at the
start of the program.

Lalor Secondary College - 6-Sep-2023

This program was amazing. The students got a lot of great strategies and experiences out of it.

- Dexter Siriwardene

The program was amazing - 5-Sep-2023
The program has been wonderful, thoroughly enjoyed by our students. All staff and accompanying dogs have been respectful and understanding of our student's needs. We do hope to be part of the program again and looking forward to working together. Thanks -Julie La Bouchardiere
Wonderful Program - 5-Sep-2023
I just wanted to give you an update for just how amazingly beneficial the sessions have been this term. As you know, it's been difficult finding the right balance for Patrick for him to get the most benefit from the sessions. We've had to take into consideration his energy budget, his actual financial budget, his anxiety and willingness to participate, and his history of trauma and learning to trust. He is just absolutely smashing it this term! We have hit a winning combination with all of his therapies working together to convey the same message of self-advocacy, patience, acceptance of making mistakes, expression and fun. His teachers and psychologist agree that he is just a new boy willing to try so many new things and is succeeding in them, seeing that he can reach his potential when previously, his fight/flight was permanently engaged in faulty neuroception, and he couldn't think. He and Norma and Lynne are so in sync now, and he completely trusts them and is now starting to cuddle Norma independently whereas before, he would only do it with a lot of support. He is pushing himself to do more and more in each session. The leaps he has made in the last 4 sessions are quite observable and measurable. Lynne and I are just astonished each time! I'm so grateful for everything, and I just wanted to let you know. I'm looking forward to watching his continued transformation with Norma and Lynne next term!
Amazing beneficial sessions - 1-Sep-2023

Truly appreciate Mini's extra efforts to make each child feel seen and heard. Her enthusiasm and warmth is infectious and she comes so well prepared to a create a safe, engaging and fun session. Thank you Mini for meeting the needs of our children and giving them a wonderful experience!

Please pass on to the fabulous Mini :)

Jen Mega - Melton West - 28-Jul-2023

We are very grateful that this program is being held at our school. Dan and Bubbles are a perfect fit and she is an absolute delight. Calm, patient and cute what else could you ask for? Dan is well prepared patient and great with the children. Other teachers just happen to be passing by and drop in. Importantly the children in the group bonded very quickly and are becoming more relaxed during the session. Thanks very much.

Karen Guest - Melton Primary School. - 28-Jul-2023
The content was well-designed and excellently delivered. Helen's ability to provide an environment the children felt safe in ensured they felt comfortable sharing and discussing the topics raised. Helen also had a wonderful capacity to engage students and hold their attention in the group in a way that encouraged individuals to be themselves while contributing to and achieving group objectives. Fantastic program. Helen and Ned were wonderful. Positive psychosocial experience and outcomes for those involved.
Hastings Primary School - 5-Apr-2023

Mini with Victor were as always profession and friendly. Children were able to follow clear directions and were introduce to safety around dogs and Mini ascertained their level of comfort. This week we were able to go into the library with Victor and the children to choose books. Everything is on track and going well. Thank you

Melton City Library - Melton Branch - 27-Feb-2023

Although I am only new to the program Cassie is building her confidence when delivering the program. She is beginning to come in to the library a little earlier to help Bo assist with the environment. Starting to build a positive relationship with the children as they seemed to enjoy the story cubes last week.

Caroline Springs Library - 27-Feb-2023

I have found the team at Canine Comprehension flexible and easy to work with to ensure their programs are effective for our participating schools and their students. Teachers from participating schools have identified improvements in mindset, participation, and behavioural incidents amongst their participating students, with many students also demonstrating improvements in their problem solving and risk taking ability, which will assist them as they transition into secondary school.

Sarah and Reef have provided a welcoming space and a perfect motivator to participate, with students more engaged in their education, contributing to improved attendance.

Knox City Council - 27-Feb-2023

Mini and Victor have been great! They are attentive to our students and adapt to each session with ease. It is pleasing to see some of the "quieter" young people coming out and interacting with Victor.

School program feedback - 16-Nov-2022

I highly recommend the Canine Comprehension program. The parallel between dog body language and human communication enables students to gently explore feelings, enhance a sense of empathy and build connection. Thank you for providing such a valuable program.

Year 6 students - 28-Jul-2022

My daughter started sessions in 2020 when she had a massive spike in her anxiety. The canine comprehension sessions quickly became a highlight of her week and really helped reduce her anxiety. She has always loved dogs and so these sessions are perfect to help her recover from a stressful week.

Really helped my anxious daughter - 25-Jul-2022

My 13 year old son was terrified of dogs, even small ones, but his sister adores dogs. So, he started therapy sessions with Sarah and her dogs and within weeks he told me 'I like dogs now'. 2 years later he loves dogs and loves his Canine Comprehension sessions where he has a dog on his lap the whole time. We're even able to dog sit now and he lets the dog sleep on his bed. He also suffers from anxiety and his dog therapy sessions have been the highlight of his week and have really helped with his anxiety and built his overall confidence.

My son loves dogs now! - 25-Jul-2022

‘The reading program was amazing. My daughter enjoyed coming every Thursday and continued reading more at home.’ – Marwa

Continued Reading - 4-Jul-2022

Archie has thoroughly enjoyed his sessions for canine comprehension, enjoying and interacting with Victor, the special guest at each session. Having Victor (the dog) present was a major motivation and drawcard for Archie to attend the program greatly helped Archie in developing an interest in reading and enhanced his comprehension and understanding of the English language. Thank you to Mandi and CS library for putting on such a wonderful program for the kids.’ – Vicky

Major Motivation - 4-Jul-2022

Baylasaan is delighted with the program. It boosted her confidence in reading and being around a dog. Looking forward to more programs like this one’ - Sana

Delighted - 4-Jul-2022

‘This program was amazing for my kids. They loved the dog and enjoyed coming here. They learnt how to use the library and now enjoy reading books!’

Amazing for my kids - 4-Jul-2022

Dear Sarah,

As a fellow Australian Catholic University (ACU) Alumni it is with great pleasure and pride that \ write to congratulate you on being the recipient of the Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership Alumni Award in ACU's Alumni Awards 2021. 

Your outstanding work and commitment to improving the educational outcomes for children through dog therapy in schools is to be commended; and is testament to how the tailoring of educational tools to suit student needs has the power to change lives for the better. As a former teacher I know that access to a quality, and innovative education system is an important component in ensuring that our children have the skills and knowledge to lead successful lives, especially for those students with special needs. Thank you for your contribution in helping to achieve this positive outcome. Thank you also for the wonderful work you have continued to do during the last 2 very challenging years of COVID-19. You are indeed an exceptional and inspirational role model to not only to the school communities and others, whom you selflessly serve, but also to future ACU Alumni. Once again, congratulations on your award, and\ wish you further success in your career and future endeavours. 

Yours sincerely,

Labor Senator for NSW

Senator Deborah O'Neil - 2-Apr-2022

The Canine Comprehension program returned to our school in 2020 Term 4. We were also given the option of a condensed 4-week program to cater to two other groups ranging from Prep-Year 2 and Year 3-6. We cannot commend this program enough and have used it for a few years now. It reinforces the social & emotional program within our school & allows children to ultimately reflect on & work through their own obstacles while working with the dog. The final obstacle course designed by the children guides the dog through a series of challenges. This is always the highlight. An excellent program which every school should invest in! Every child wants in!

Every school should invest in this program! - 8-Dec-2020

We have been working with the Canine Comprehension team for a couple of years now. I cannot speak more highly of their professionalism, knowledge, compassion, skill, connection, organisation, communication and understanding. Sarah Macdonald is an exceptional professional - with humans and canines! Her knowledge of dogs, the school system, people of all ages and how they all fit together is remarkable. Her understanding cannot be understated. We contacted Sarah with a challenged teenager and a new pup he wanted to take to school. Sarah engaged with my son, his new pup quickly establishing rapport and trust. The pup responded quickly and positively to the training. Sarah then connected with school, a new experience for them to have a dog in the school. A profound respect was quickly established and the dog went to school with my son for over a year until he finished VCE. Sarah was there the whole way with us. I cannot more highly recommend Canine Comprehension.

Wow. Simply wow. - 7-Dec-2020

Alison and Jet were fantastic in building instant rapport and trust with our students. Alison was professional, warm and direct with the facilitation of the program which suited the needs of our students. She showed flexibility and adapted to the overt presentation of students e.g. Some behavioural issues and continued with the program in a non-judgemental way. Our students responded well to the program especially to Jet who they looked forward to seeing and physically connect with eg. Patting and hugging Jet and asking him to perform tricks….Overall, a very good program.

- Lynall Hall Community School: Island Campus, Youth Worker

Professional, warm and direct. - 14-Jan-2020

I wanted to let you know that the AAT program has been going really well at our school. The students (and staff) love having Lucy (and Jasmine) at our school. The students chosen by teachers to be involved this year have different needs and difficulties to the students that were involved last year. My observations of the students during the program seem to indicate that they are getting a lot out of the program.  

We have also been able to have the student who was involved in the dog attack have a little one on one time with Lucy (and Jasmine) each week and she has been getting more comfortable with Lucy each week so that has been an added bonus for our school. 

- PWO, Fawkner PS 

Getting a lot out of the program - 14-Jan-2020

Adrian* lives at home with his parents and two older brothers. He has attended our school since Prep. Adrian has an intellectual disability, as does his eldest brother. Adrian regularly suffered anxiety throughout his school day, particularly when required to follow teacher instructions (transitioning between activities and spaces within the school).

Problem behaviours included absconding from the classroom and meeting sensory needs through destructive / inappropriate use of resources. Though initially apprehensive, Adrian came to enjoy his regular interactions with the dog. During his session and immediately after them, Adrian was substantially calmer and less prone to anxiety and more inclined to follow instructions from school staff.

Adrian has shown some improvements since his inclusion in the program. He is noticeably calmer upon arrival to school and prior to departing in the afternoon. Generally, Adrian is less prone to anxiety and more inclined to follow directions from staff.

- Primary School Teacher

Noticeably calmer student - 14-Jan-2020

Important work - dogs and mindfulness in the classroom. Creative way to help at risk kids to learn.

- Judge - 2019 Stevie Awards, New York.

Important work - 19-Nov-2019

The field you selected is really necessary for any country. Because Children's are the next future. It need lot of patience and Innovation methodologies to train. Good luck.

- Judge - 2019 Stevie Awards, New York.

Patience and Innovation - 19-Nov-2019

Sarah is doing amazing work improving children's futures.

- Judge - 2019 Stevie Awards, New York.

Improving children's futures - 19-Nov-2019

I love the entire business and results! So inspiring!

- Judge - 2019 Stevie Awards, New York.

So inspiring! - 19-Nov-2019

You make me proud to be an Aussie! Wish we were close enough for my teen to attend your classes. You are amazing. Fantastic story, well told. I especially love the video.

- Judge - 2019 Stevie Awards, New York.

Fantastic story - 19-Nov-2019

I felt the mentor was able to accurately pitch and adjust each session. The group dynamics was well supported by giving individual students positive and constructive feedback. There has been a significant change in the capacity of the students to feel comfortable with each other and the dogs and to be better equipped to understand how they communicate to one another.

We felt that we were very fortunate to participate in this program and hope it can be an ongoing partnership.

- Learning diversity and transition leader, Sacred Heart primary school Fitzroy.

Significant change - 2-Oct-2019

The best thing about the program was playing with Joosh, she was my favourite. I also liked it when Chelsie talks to us about how we feel about going to high school. When we were meditating she has a really calming voice everything was perfect. I hope to see them again.

- Year 6 student, Sacred heart school, Fitzroy

Really calming - 2-Oct-2019

The mentor was able to engage the students and relate to the strategies to the students needs. I was extremely happy with the content of the program. The students were happier at school and even the staff were able to learn some more strategies to help them. I couldn’t be happier with the program and the impact it has had on our anxious at risk students.

- Assistant principal, Mount Ridley College

Extremely happy with the content - 2-Oct-2019

My favourite thing was being with the dogs and having something to look forward to at school.

- year 7 student, Catholic Ladies College, Eltham

Look forward to school. - 2-Oct-2019

The program taught me how to be able to understand myself more and be able to calm myself. 

- Year 7 student, McGuire College, Shepparton

Calming - 2-Oct-2019

The students have felt comfortable to discuss their anxiety in front of other students.  The students would have liked more weeks it is a fantastic program.

- Learning support leader, Catholic Ladies College, Eltham

Comfortable to discuss their anxiety - 2-Oct-2019

'The  best  thing  about  this  program is that it calmed me down and helped me to feel  less  anxious.  I felt very stressed  a  lot  of  the time before I started  this  program.'

- Student,  Year  11  – Yarra/Darebin

Helped me to feel  less  anxious - 29-May-2019

I was introduced to Canine Comprehension because Sarah was my puppy trainer.  Young people in my programs are less anxious, more engaged with learning, school and peers through working with Canine Comprehension.  

I would recommend Canine Comprehension to others because they are professional, friendly, effective and amazing.

- Rachael Scoble, Epping

Less anxious, more engaged. - 28-May-2019

I decided I needed an English mentor for extra help during year 12.  Having a mentor allowed me to have a second perspective on what I was learning at school.  I also decided I needed a mentor as one on one lessons would further my understanding on subjects as a teacher with 23 other students could not.

My lessons with Sarah were usually an hour long and we would do multiple tasks to assist with what I was learning in class.  We created a 'vocab bank' to demonstrate a larger vocabulary and I would write down objectives and ways to begin sentences alternatively.  We would look at essay writing by myself and other students and I learnt how to write higher quality essays.  We would plan essays and continue to edit other essays I had previously written.

In our lessons we would also find background information on characters in the novels I was studying and use that insight to fully grasp an understanding of the texts.  The notes taken during our lessons would be emailed to me so I could look over it during the week when I studied.

Through mentoring I was able to greatly improve my marks.  Having a second person who has a vested interest in my education helped me to achieve higher.  I learnt how to think about ideas for myself instead of just resighting what my class mates and teacher has said.

The lessons would act as a revision and due to that I found that revising was mush easier to do when you have structure in your planning.  As the year went on I found an interest in what I was learning and I was more driven to achieve the highest mark possible.

I would highly recommend Sarah as a mentor for anyone who has a little self doubt.  Sarah has the ability to bring out the best in you.

- Brianna - VCE Student

Highly recommend - 28-May-2019

The impact this kind of mentoring has had on my young people has been quite incredible.  

Sarah is well informed about children's educational practices and animal therapy, and the two mesh together to provide safe, secure learning environments for young people affected by trauma.  The use of an animal aid to engage with and bring a burst of happiness into these children's lives has seen them change and grow over time.  

Before Sarah became their mentor, there was little evidence to suggest any would take a pencil in their hand and write letters, let alone concentrate on anything that looked like book work.

- Anonymous Carer

For young people affected by trauma - 28-May-2019

Sarah brings together her passions and vibrance for her work with young people coupled with an outstanding ability to train dogs a therapeutic aids.  The clients Sarah has been working with have complex behavioural and socioemotional requirements.  

The unique idea of incorporating dog assisted therapy and children's educational needs has served our clients well through weekly tutroing in their homes.

- Anonymous Carer, Berry Street, residential care home.

Dogs a therapeutic aids - 28-May-2019

While I've always known on one level the health benefits that can be experienced when people have access to pets, over the past 6 months i have witnessed the profound positive impact that pet therapy sessions can have on increasing a child's engagement with school.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a child who was previously resistant to attending school not only be enthusiastic about coming to be involved in the pet therapy sessions but actively involved and challenging themselves through competing the activities that are presented to them.  

Sarah has a beautiful way of relating to the students needs and interests and weaves this through their interactions with the dog and the learning tasks she plans for them.  I've watched as the student has gained more and more confidence in themselves and their own ability through training Oscar to do tricks and then build on this confidence by engaging in increasing amounts with the regular school program.  The flow on benefits for the rest of our students as well have been huge and everyone's feelings get a lift when Sarah and Oscar walk into the school grounds.

I can't speak highly enough of the program that Sarah provides and am now looking at ways in which more of our students can benefit from the program she provides.  It is said that a picture paints a thousand words and to see the huge smile that lights up my students face each time Sarah and Oscar are here is worth every moment and dollar I spend in the program.

- Anonymous Teacher

Profound positive impact - 28-May-2019

Our young people who have experienced trauma, find it particularly difficult to establish relationships and build trust.  One of the beautiful things I have observed is the bond that grows between the child and the dog and of course with Sarah.  The young people don't feel judged or intimidated by the dog and find it easier to talk and open up.  This in turn helps them to build self confidence and enhance their relationships with others.

One of the most valuable out-comes our children and young people get from working with dogs and Sarah, is the 'space' that Sarah creates that enables them to learn.  Working with the dogs helps them to find a calm state, a 'space' in their over-active brains for new information to be processed.  Traumatised children and young people find it difficult to absorb and process new information.  Interacting with the dogs, together with the mindfulness practices used by Sarah, allows our children and young people not only to engage with learning, but to experience success in learning and to discover that learning can be fun.

- Guilla Digiglio - Mackillop Family Services

Young people don't feel judged or intimidated - 28-May-2019

The best thing about this program is creating a network of friends who I know struggle in a similar way to me.

- Student, Year 11 - Yarra/Darebin

Met new friends - 23-May-2019

Many of the students involved are showing more persistence in their day-to-day activities. They seem more confident in dealing with their peers and are less anxious in the classroom.

- Teacher Primary School – Whittlesea

Students showing more persistence - 21-May-2019