Cause close to heart

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By DENISE S. CAHILL

SUMI has been a life­line for Arnya Tait in more ways than one. A sub­tle ges­ture from the mal­tese poo­dle was the kick Ms Tait needed to get her heart checked, lead­ing to her hav­ing a pace­maker fit­ted, and she was in­stru­men­tal in get­ting the Fraser's Group sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager back on her feet. Ms Tait is work­ing with other dog own­ers and pet pho­tog­ra­pher Janet Craig to raise money for Life­line WA, start­ing with an event on Fe­bru­ary 19 at Fraser’s, Kings Park.

A SUB­TLE ges­ture from Sumi the Mal­tese poo­dle prompted Arnya Tait to have her heart checked, re­sult­ing in surgery to have a pace­maker fit­ted.

Just days be­fore the Fraser’s group sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager was due to fly to Nepal for a trekking hol­i­day last year, two-and-a-hal­fyear-old Sumi “put her paw on my heart”.

“When I told my friends, they said I should get it checked,” Ms Tait (53) said.

“I was put in crit­i­cal care and had tests that found I had a virus of the heart and scar­ring from prior (un­known) is­sues. I had a pace­maker put in be­cause my heart was in full heart block.”

When Ms Tait was re­cov­er­ing at home for six weeks, Sumi never left her side.

“She was very ter­ri­to­rial… we called her ‘nurse Sumi’,” she said.

“She made me get up and start walk­ing again and she helped me not be afraid to do that. “With­out her I could have spi­ralled back in to pre­vi­ous is­sues.”

Ms Tait suf­fered from post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der in her 30s.

That ex­pe­ri­ence has been her cat­a­lyst for sup­port­ing Life­line WA over the past 14 years she has worked at the Fraser’s Group.

Be­fore be­ing di­ag­nosed with a heart con­di­tion, Ms Tait had been work­ing with Life­line and pet pho­tog­ra­pher Janet Craig to pro­duce a book of Perth per­son­al­i­ties and their dogs to raise money to help peo­ple af­fected by de­pres­sion and sui­cide.

The Pet Project pro­motes the health ben­e­fits of pet own­er­ship and sup­port Life­line WA.

Dogs are good at en­cour­ag­ing own­ers to ex­er­cise, which can ben­e­fit those suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion, ac­cord­ing to the Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion in the UK.

“Pets can also have calm­ing ef­fects on their owner,” it said.

“Just by stroking, sit­ting next to or play­ing with a pet can give own­ers a chance to re­lax and calm their minds.

“Caring for a pet also gives your day pur­pose and re­ward and a sense of achieve­ment. It also helps you feel valu­able and needed.”

Ms Tait said Sumi had helped en­gage her with the com­mu­nity.

“I’ve met more peo­ple in my lo­cal com­mu­nity (through walk­ing Sumi) who I never would have oth­er­wise. I’m more ac­tively in­volved than ever,” she said.

Arnya Tait with Sumi. Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d463997

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