Cause close to heart
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 Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d463997