APPLECROSS resident Tara Lord is still laying the foundations for her career as a social worker, but already knows that animals will play a big part.
A qualified disability support worker and less than two months away from completing a Certificate IV in mental health, Miss Lord is a passionate advocate for the benefits of animals in therapy.
Three months ago the 18-year-old rescued Loki from a shelter in Bunbury and in October the pair will fly to Melbourne for specialist training that will certify the kelpie cross for animal-assisted therapy.
“Dogs are great for providing a sense of comfort, especially for people who experience social anxiety, whether as the result of a disability or a mental health issue,” she said.
“For example Loki and I met a young girl living with a disability who hadn’t talked to anyone besides her mum for nine years.
“She started speaking to the dog and then came over to me and asked what breed Loki was – it made the mum really emotional because her daughter had never spoken to anyone else before.”
Miss Lord is planning to complete a double major in counselling and social work and ultimately hopes to operate a property that connects people living with disabilities with animals.
Miss Lord said animal-assisted therapy was already popular in Europe and in the US and hopes that the practice will become more prevalent in Perth.
“There really is nothing like it in Perth which is why I’m trying to start, I’d love to see more people with counselling or psychology degrees adopting a dog and training them for this purpose.”