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A Golden Saviour For Trevor

Assistance dog Sophie helps Trevor with his Post-Traumatic Stress.

A golden Saviour for Trevor Shinnick

"I was thrilled when the trainers told me that I could take Sophie home for good."

Vietnam veteran Trevor Shinnick has been battling Post-Traumatic Stress for many years, holding him back from living his life, until an unlikely saviour came along, a Golden Retriever named Sophie.

“At the age of 20 years old, I was conscripted for two years’ service in the Australian Army. I was trained as a Combat Medic and served 12 months in Vietnam,” Trevor said.

“Being a Combat Medic, it was my job to assist anyone injured, including in battle. You see some not so good things while you are trying to help civilians in a war environment.

“Unfortunately, coming home was difficult, Australia had grown up and there were demonstrations and protests about the Vietnam War, and we were met with awful derogatory remarks.

“Things were bottling up and it was only later in my life I started experiencing horrific nightmares and before I knew it, I was spiralling.”

Trevor was referred to a psychiatrist and was admitted into Ward 17 at the Repat Hospital.

“With Post-Traumatic Stress you’re so used to putting down a blind and having a mask. I was socially isolating myself and avoiding people.”

From there, Trevor gradually began re-establishing himself with the support of his loving wife Sue but still faced challenges. This was until he found help in a four-legged friend, Sophie.

It was Trevor’s psychiatrist who recommended an assistance dog as an adjunct therapy to help with his Post-Traumatic Stress.

“I went through the Royal Society of the Blind’s (RSB) Operation K9 program. I felt a connection with Sophie as soon as I saw her,” Trevor said.

“During the training, I noticed I was starting to think of a purpose again, something was happening in my life and I wasn’t just focusing on taking my medication to cope with my depression.

“I started bonding with Sophie and I was thrilled when the trainers told me that I could take Sophie home for good.

“I found with Sophie I could start doing things that I could never have dreamt of before.”

Trevor found he had the confidence to discover life again with Sophie alongside him. He started going out for walks, chatting with strangers, and even travelling abroad to Canberra and to New Zealand!

Sue says it’s been wonderful since Trevor got Sophie and she’s seen a very positive change in him.

“Trevor focuses on her instead of focusing on me being here all the time. I can go out and have peace of mind that he will be okay with Sophie. When he’s not feeling so good, she’s very responsive and will always come to his aid and help him,” Sue said.

“She gets him out to do things, he will even go up to the shops which he used to hate. Sophie’s incredible.”