One hot December night, in the Blue Mountains up behind Sydney, the heat was more intense than usual for the height of summer, as angry bush fires were leaping and licking their way towards a farm and its outbuildings. A tiny puppy tried to pick his way over the scorching ground, flashes from the flames showing up the distinctive white stripe down his little face. Luckily for Cobber, he hid under a water trough and the blaze missed him.

When the rescuers came to the burnt-out property they first thought that all the animals had been lost, but then they heard a friendly whimper. Cobber, now an orphan, was delighted to greet his human heroes. From that day on he had a huge respect for people who do difficult and challenging jobs.

Cobber was brought up by the local Dogs Rescue Centre and had a wonderful boyhood. He loved to play and lark about with his mates in the shelter, but was always very obedient and quick to learn in training sessions. This made him an ideal candidate, when, on his second birthday, he was picked to become an Assistance Dog.

Cobber had never been into the Big City before, but he was determined not to be scared by all the traffic and noise. He knew he was lucky to be given this chance to prove himself. Working hard every day, he soon mastered crossing roads, getting on and off trains and waiting patiently outside shops. An exuberant game of ball on the beach was all the reward he could ever ask for.

When Cobber was matched with his new owner he immediately felt proud and responsible for her. The fact that she had served in the military, and like him, witnessed trauma, gave him unique understanding and compassion. As well as protecting and guiding her, his aim is to always make her feel safe, secure, happy and loved.

Cobber knows that his owner is often unsure when approaching other people, and he is always there by her side to support her. Snuggling, cuddling up and sloppy kisses are all part of Cobber’s soothing techniques. His affection, patience and cheerfulness are extended to everyone they meet.

When his owner goes to her treatment sessions, Cobber goes too. Like her, he is gaining understanding of the experiences they have endured, learning resilience, and how best to reconnect. Cobber appreciates how important the sessions are as he champions her in her recovery.

Cobber and his owner go everywhere together and he especially enjoys and endorses her love of sport. Along with getting lots of exercise and mixing in the community, Cobber enjoys cheering all the participants along. Their daily round includes school pick-ups and social activities, all things his owner had refrained from doing, and wherever they go they also spread awareness about Post Traumatic Stress and how to get help. If anyone is ever stressed or low, they know they can turn to Cobber for a kind-eyed cuddle, and much enthusiastic tail-wagging.

Competing in Invictus Games Sydney 2018 is a dream come true for Cobber’s owner. They have trained hard together, are going to try their very best, and are looking forward to making loads and loads of new friends.