Sumi the maltese poodle sets pace for owner’s heart check and surgery


Arnya Tait and Sumi. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d463997
Arnya Tait and Sumi. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d463997

A SUBTLE gesture from Sumi the maltese poodle prompted Osborne Park resident 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 scheduled to fly to Nepal for a trekking holiday last year, two-and-a-half-year-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.”

Sumi never left Ms Tait’s side while she spent six weeks recovering at home.

“She was very territorial towards me… 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 post traumatic stress disorder in her 30s.

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

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 her engage with the community.

“I’ve met more people in my local community (through walking Sumi) that I ever would have otherwise,” she said.

“So many of us get stuck in work, home and friends but many wouldn’t know what’s going on in their community.

“I’m more actively involved than ever.”

The Pet Project Launch

When: Sunday, February 19 from 10am-noon

Where: Fraser’s, Kings Park

What: a glass of sparkling on arrival, cocktail brunch and pet treats from FurBaby Boutique and Cafe

Tickets: $95 per person and one dog, $40 for each additional dog. Visit bit.ly/thepetproject.