Sniffing around for answers on mental health

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Mitchell Hosking (author)

Location(s): Waverton, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Huon (M82), Mental Health

Freya the Husky enjoying the day after being awarded best groomed dog. (photo: Unknown)
Freya the Husky enjoying the day after being awarded best groomed dog.

The Sydney-based crew of minehunter, HMAS Huon had a ‘howl’ of a time raising funds and awareness for mental health by conducting a ‘bring your dog to work day’ at their nearby Waverton Oval.

Research has shown that pet therapy has a positive effect that can be applied in a therapeutic setting and leveraging the power of pets is becoming a vital tool in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions and disorders particularly those associated with mental health.

The crew of Huon are aware how issues in mental health can be ‘ruff’ and that creating awareness and supporting those organisations that support the Australian Defence Force helps prevent some ‘hairy’ situations.

Huon’s Welfare Committee organised the day in which each dog was charged a nominal fee to attend while additional funds were raised through the sale of cakes, soft drink and a BBQ with all proceeds going towards the Veterans and Veterans’ Families Counselling Service.

The service run by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs provides free and confidential, nationwide counselling and support for war and service-related mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

With the sun shining and dogs barking, Huon’s crew enjoyed the time out of the workplace to relax and rest after what has been a busy year bringing the ship out of drydock, and deploying overseas on operations.

The day provided a much-needed treat to the crew and their furry friends.

However, it wasn’t all fun and games as the participants of the day were all told to ‘sit and roll over’ the serious issues relating to mental health and how Navy as an organisation can work together to control the impact work may have on shipmates.

At the end of the day, all of the puppy participants competed to see who was the best in their field. Events included best trick, most well-groomed dog, the dog most like their owner and best behaved.

Sammy Penfold, a Labrador cross Spaniel, took out the best trick with her ability to catch frisbees and balls along with her obedience to her owner’s instructions.

Carlos, an oversized pug, was awarded best-behaved dog. Meanwhile, Harley and his owner Matthew received ‘dog most like owner’ due to their uncanny resemblance in appearance and intelligence.

Overall the big winner of the day was the Counselling Service for which $200 was raised. For more information visit or call 1800 011 046.