"Fudge" with owner Nicole Hargraves

Our 2005 Service dog award goes to "Fudge" AKA Silverbirch Firestorm, who is a Facility dog owned by Nominee Nicole Hargraves of Animal Assisted Therapy Australia Inc, in Albany Creek, Queensland Australia.

Facility Dogs are trained specifically for placement into a group situation, such as special education school or unit, a rehabilitation facility or a nursing home. As with therapy dogs, facility dogs must provide a tangible benefit to the people in the facility, otherwise they are merely a pet and our specialist involvement is not necessary. If you need a dog to help with your client's rehabilitation, therapy or education, then a Facility Dog is what your are looking for. All facility dogs are handled and housed by one person, called a facilitator. The dog and facilitator help with the client's rehabilitation, therapy and or education. The facilitator is required to undergo a 5 day training course to learn how to look after, train and use the dog in interactive behaviors with the people in the facility.


  • All Facility Dogs must have completed a minimum of 50 hours of training.
  • Facility Dogs have spent a minimum of 3 months with an AATA Trainer.
  • Facility Dogs have spent at least 24 hours training in high distraction public places.
  • Facility Dogs have been obedience trained to a standard that would allow their new handlers to compete in ANKC obedience trials if they wished. Some facility dogs have already competed if time has allowed.
  • Facility Dog handlers have completed a five day training course.
  • Facility Dogs are all thoroughly tested for tolerance and reliability around even the youngest children. Facility Dogs all have a very high bite inhibition level (i.e. – they are strongly programmed not to bite – even if they are under stress..)

Congratulations to Nicole and Fudge!