Originally published on smh.com.au
Roz Rimes, founder and director of coaching company Live with Zest, is a passionate educator and social entrepreneur but it wasn’t always so.
As a young woman, after completing a bachelor of agriculture in wine marketing and a diploma in hotel management in Australia, she worked as a tour guide at the exclusive Moet and Chandon winery in France, and then moved to California to extend her employment with the company.
On her return to Australia, she was employed as a lecturer at William Angliss Institute in Melbourne where she completed a master’s of education policy.
After teaching at tertiary level and attaining another master’s degree in positive psychology, Ms Rimes has now transitioned to a career working with therapy dogs; taking them into classroom and hospitals, helping to enhance people’s wellbeing through high-quality connections with animals.
It was the purchase of her first labradoodle puppy, Flash, that set her on this remarkable journey of love and caring for the community. Flash’s breeder directed Ms Rimes to Delta Society; a charity that facilitates volunteers (and their specially trained dogs) visiting hospitals and healthcare facilities.
“Once I started to understand the neurobiological benefits of interacting intentionally with dogs, I wanted to share it with other people”, she says. “I learnt so much from volunteering. I advise everyone to do it.”
Roz’s new role utilises her teaching skills, her ability to connect with young people, her passion for positive psychology and her canine-assisted therapy experience.
“I love that my work means I’m doing something that’s giving back to the community,” Ms Rimes says.
Ms Rimes is also employed by various canine-assisted therapy programs where she visits schools with either Flash or her younger dog, Rafa. She runs canine education programs and teaches others the art of savouring their interactions with pets.
“One of my passions is to help people interact more intentionally with their pets, particularly their dogs, because there is so much wellbeing to be gained from that,” she says.
As part of her Live With Zest work, Ms Rimes and her dogs visit the Melbourne University Student village at least twice a month and, in high stress times like exam periods or swotvac, once a week.
Stephanie Wood, Residential Life Duty Manager, says it is “an awesome opportunity” for residents to take a break from studying.
“Roz focuses on savouring the interaction with the dog. She’ll point out something like the eyelashes on the dog and it might seem quite small, but it helps them focus on a specific detail of the animals and takes their mind away from the stress for a certain amount of time.”
With this and other affiliated student villages, Ms Rimes is reaching about 1000 students.
“Roz offers such a unique service and she’s so passionate about it as well.”
Ms Rimes recounts a story in which a paramedic approached her in the hospital car park after one of her visits. He approached her and asked if he could pat the dog.
“We just had a really hard case,” he said, “and I really need this.” Being of service to someone helping the community at large made her very proud.
Ms Rimes also conducts coaching sessions with a ‘Walk, Talk and Savour’ model as part of her enterprise.
“If people want to strive they need a supportive community,” she says. “By keeping in motion as we walk the dogs, and savouring the natural environment, these coaching sessions allow people to start dealing with challenging emotions.”
For Ms Rimes, running Live with Zest is the culmination of years of different work experience in a range of environments. She has embraced what she learnt about service delivery, and what she knew about savouring through her wine studies, to provide a superior service that has a positive impact on people’s lives.
“Canine-assisted therapy brings improved wellbeing, and we all need that,” she says.
‘Lead the way’ training institute has a certificate in animal-assisted therapy (canine).
Master’s of applied positive psychology
Skills: listening, coaching, using positive psychology to assess highly charged situations, humour, kindness and caring. Teachers, allied health professionals, psychologists, etc are well suited to this kind of career.
Put a lot of time into training own animal with professional dog trainers.
Learn about dog body language.
Find a volunteer organisation and learn from them and contribute to them.