Animates is a special program brought to you by a dedicated group of 2RPH volunteers. The 30-minute program focuses on the stories of people who live with a disability and who find owning or being close to an animal helpful for everyday life. The following episodes share these stories in an interview-style format. Owing to copyright restrictions articles read on these programs are not included here.

Smart Pups

In this episodes Jo VanKook chats with Janelle from "Smart Pups". They discuss the organisation and the benifits of companion dogs in the community.

Original Broadcast Date 02.12.2018


Shimon Parker interviews Ben Maguire who is the founder of the Remount program. Ben, wife Marina and a team of Volunteers share their love of horses while helping service veterans deal with the impact of stress, loss or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Remount assists those who have served to get ‘back in the saddle’ and reconnect through horsemanship.

Original Broadcast Date 18.11.2018

Freya the Pin Up Puppy for ASDOG wins community volunteer award

Elaine Wziontek chats to Freya's owner Martina Fox about the joys of puppy raising and the work assistance dogs do in helping people with a disability live more independently. ASDOG needs more people to put their hands up to raise Labrador pups. Find out more about this not for profit organisation that raises, trains and places dogs with people with physical disabilities

Elaine also discusses how support dogs calmed and distracted the athletes to perform their best at the Invictus Games in Sydney

Original Broadcast Date 04.11.2018

Donkey Therapy with May Dodd

Original Broadcast Date 21.10.2018

Ernie the Goat

2RPH presenter Shimon has a chat with Amanda Howell - Ernie the Alpine Milking Goat's mum. Ernie was brought into Amanda’s life on Melbourne Cup Day 2017. Amanda did not immediately realise how much her life would change because of this event and the effect it would have on the lives of many other New England residents in Northern NSW. Amanda provides a glimpse of her life with Ernie and how he works his magic.

Original Broadcast Date 7.10.2018

Delta Society with Amanda Dee

Elaine Wziontek talks to Amanda Dee a Delta Society volunteer who visits patients at the Spinal Unit at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney with her black Labrador Ruby. Find out how a listening ear and a friendly paw brightens the day of patients and medical staff. More volunteers welcome.

Original Broadcast Date 23.9.2018

Dr Alicia Kennedy

Original Broadcast Date 9.9.2018

Alpaca Therapy with Graham Maskiell

2RPH's Sarah Hewson talks to Graham Maskiell, a special education teacher from Gin Gin High School in Queensland. Graham has been instrumental in the introduction of a program at the school that uses alpacas to encourage and build confidence of children with autism and other special needs.

Original Broadcast Date 26.08.2018

Chickens to Love with Summer and Cynthia Farrelly

Elaine Wziontek talks to Summer Farrelly, a remarkable 11-year-old who wants to help shy, awkward and autistic kids like herself engage with chickens. Mum Cynthia explains how Summer quickly developed an amazing bond with chickens and how their program helps other children gain confidence.

Original Broadcast Date 12.08.2018

Happy Paws

Jo Van Kool interviews Zoe Black, co-founder and program director of Happy Paws, Happy Hearts, an organisation that provides animal care, handling and training programs designed to give participants a rewarding personal development experience as they nurture and care for for shelter animals and prepare them for adoption.

Original Broadcast Date 29.07.2018

Edspace Program and Anthropzoology Lecture

After her son, who has autism, could not remain in school, Maggie Fanning decided to take matters into her own hands and create her own school. EdSpace School is located in Benalla, north-east Victoria, and aims to provide individualised educational programs for students of entry age from 11-18 years with medical or developmental disorders affecting their success in mainstream schooling. Elaine Wziontek talks to Maggie from Victoria.

Original Broadcast Date 15.07.2018

Healing Hooves

2RPH's Jo Van Kool talks to Marion from Healing Hooves, a Gold Coast-based charity rescuing horses with a disability.

Original Broadcast Date 1.7.2018

Health Benefits of Owning a Dog with Manos Stamatakis

Elaine Wziontek talks health benefits of owning a dog with Associate Professor Manos Stamatakis, who is conducting a study on the health benefits of owning a dog with the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.

Original Broadcast Date 17.6.2018

Pick of the Litter

Shimon Parker chats with Don Hardy, producer of film Pick of the Litter, on what it was like to follow five spirited puppies as they are trained to become guide dogs for the blind in his new documentary.

Original Broadcast Date 3.06.2018

Jenny Harlow - Dog Trainer

Original Broadcast Date 20.05.2018

Canine Comprehension - Sarah Macdonald

Elaine interviews Sarah Macdonald, Director of Canine Comprehension, which offers a fun and interactive approach to children’s education with dog-assisted learning. Sarah explains how interacting with dogs and teaching them tricks can help kids learn and gain confidence.

Original Broadcast Date 6.05.2018

Molly Polly Diabetes Alert Dog

Molly Polly is the tireless terrier who is believed to be the only assistance dog in Australia doing two distinct jobs - diabetes alert and mental health support - for two different owners. She has changed the lives of her young owners, twins Hannah and Olivia Weber, and, of course, their mum Adrienne Cottell who will share their story.

Original Broadcast Date 22.04.2018

Welfare of Assistance Animals - Dr Jacqui Ley

Dr Jacqui Ley from the Australian Veterinary Association is a behavioural therapist. She gives us an interesting insight into how animals think, and discusses her concerns about allowing downtime for animals doing demanding jobs.

Original Broadcast Date 08.04.2018

Olivia and Tanya Leadbeatter

Interview with Olivia and her mum Tanya about the importance of animals for Olivia, who has special needs.

Original Broadcast Date 15.03.2018

PAWS - Sharon Stewart

Paws Pet Therapy is a not-for-profit organisation that trains volunteers and their dogs to provide specialised pet therapy to people in a range of settings, with needs ranging from loneliness to cancer.

Original Broadcast Date 11/03/2018

Hearing Dogs - Faye Yaroll

Lyons Hearing Dogs provide assistance dogs for people with hearing impairment all over Australia. Learn about what they do and how they are trained with Fay Yarroll and her dog Sydney.

Original Broadcast Date 25/02/2018

Penguin Bloom - Samantha Bloom

While on holidays in Thailand an accident left Samantha Bloom paralysed. When she returned home she developed a remarkable relationship with a magpie called Penguin. This story is now a book and is set to become a movie.

Original Broadcast Date 11/02/2018

John Murphy - MindDog user in aged care

A German Shepherd named Rex was adopted as a pet, initially, but became much more to his owner John Murphy. The stress of his wife's dementia led John's mental health to deteriorate, so with training from MindDog Rex became an important part of John's life, providing him with the support he needs. Now John is fighting to have his aged care facility recognise Rex’s status as a fully accredited assistance dog.

Original Broadcast Date 28/01/2018

Liz Wheeler - Guide Dog user

Liz Wheeler is a student, advocate and adventurer who was none of these things until she was teamed with a Labrador called Poppi. This dog gave her the freedom to live her life after vision loss.

Original Broadcast Date 14/01/2018

Whiskey's Wish - Scott Jackman

In 2013 Scott Jackman was medically discharged from the army with major depression and PTSD. After the death of his assistance dog Whiskey he founded Whiskey’s Wish, an organisation that provides service dogs to veterans with disabilities. Their work encompasses training and continual support for recipients and their immediate family for the life of the dog and beyond.

Original Broadcast Date 31/12/2017

Pets In The Park - Mark Westman

Dr Mark Westman works in the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney, where he runs a clinic caring for the pets of homeless people.

Original Broadcast Date 03/12/2017

Phoenix House - Helen Botros

Phoenix House is a Bundaberg-based community organisation which assists those who have been harmed or are at risk of harm. Its Equine Assisted Therapy program has a significant impact for many of their clients.

Original Broadcast Date 19/11/2017

Riding for the Disabled, Orange - Wayne Gallagher

Riding for the Disabled Association NSW provides people with a disability the opportunity to ride and enjoy all the activities connected with horse riding. Riding for people with a disability is both therapeutic and recreational.  We speak to Wayne Gallagher from the RDA Centre in Orange.

Original Broadcast Date 05/11/2017

The Urban Beehive - Vicky Brown

The Urban Beehive put beehives in city backyards, businesses, community gardens and on rooftops. Vicky Brown has the pleasure of maintaining apiaries all over Sydney and enjoys teaching courses and giving talks to raise awareness about earth’s major pollinators. 

Original Broadcast Date 24/10/2017

Estia Health - Sue Bailey

Hear the story of how one therapy dog helps residents in a nursing home.

Original Broadcast Date 08/10/2017

MindDog - Gail

MindDog assists people with mental health disorders to procure, train and certify psychiatric assistance dogs, enabling them to participate more fully in life.

Original Broadcast Date 24/09/2017

Christo Sarantakis

Christo Sarantakis derives great comfort and support from a special bond with his cat.

Original Broadcast Date 27/08/2017


In this episode we learn about what’s required to keep chooks and the many benefits for choosing them as family pets.

Original Broadcast Date 13/08/2017

Jane Hall - Horses and people with autism

Original Broadcast Date 30/07/2017

Sunshine Butterflies

Sunshine Butterflies operate a hobby farm in Noosa which uses animals to deliver animal therapy and animal care programs to individuals living with disability. We speak to founder Leanne Walsh.

Original Broadcast Date 16/07/2017

Gail Turmey

Gail Turney had a brain haemorrhage in 2006. We talk to her about what life is like with her assistance dog Bella.

Original Broadcast Date 02/07/2017

Guide Dogs - Graham Innes and Paul Adrian

Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graham Innes describes what life is like as a Guide Dog handler. Then, Paul Adrian describes the process of training a Guide Dog.

Original Broadcast Date 04/06/2017

Backtrack - Paul

BackTrack is a not-for-profit organisation based in Armidale NSW running a range of programs for disadvantaged youth. Paul Dawson tells us about sharing his passion for the land with young people and in assisting them to become work ready and reach their goals.

Original Broadcast Date 07/05/2017

Assistance Dogs Australia - Jane MaKay

Assistance Dogs Australia provides dogs to a wide variety of people including those with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, autism and PTSD. These highly trained dogs allow recipients to have greater mobility, gain confidence and self-esteem.

Original Broadcast Date 23/04/2017

Riding for the Disabled - Nicole King

Riding for the Disabled Association NSW provides people with a disability the opportunity to ride and enjoy all the activities connected with horse riding. Riding for people with a disability is both therapeutic and recreational.  We speak to Nicole King from the RDA Centre Tall Timbers in Box Hill.

Original Broadcast Date 09/04/2017

Taronga Zoo - Steve Williams

Steve Williams, the manager of Guest Experience-Operations, discusses the programs run for people with disabilities visiting Taronga Zoo.

Original Broadcast Date 26/03/2017

Kirsty Sexel

Animal behaviourist Kirsty Sexel talks about the bond between animals and people.

Original Broadcast Date 12/03/2017

The Animates team include:

  • Jo Van Kool
  • Katie Brooks
  • Josef Schwanzer
  • Elaine Wziontek
  • Shimon Parker
  • Sarah Hewson

Tune in:

Animates airs alternate Sundays at 5:30pm or 7:00pm on Tuesdays.