Deborah Carr was born and raised in West Texas. With a father working in the oilfields in the 1950’s, the family moved at least yearly, so animals were the stable best friends in her life. A cat, a collie, a beagle, a wired-haired fox terrier, a German Shepherd, and Chihuahuas were her successive favorites. Debbie wanted to be a teacher when she grew up, then a doctor, and her first job was as a pet sitter.
When she graduated from Alamo Catholic High School, she enrolled in Amarillo Junior College on a trumpet scholarship. When her dad was transferred to Utah, and she found mountains that she never wanted to leave. She attended the University of Utah and graduated with a BS in Nursing and practiced in both medical-surgical and pediatric psychiatric nursing. Switching gears, Deb enrolled in a Masters program in Early Childhood education, finished that degree, and began teaching in Preschool Special Education—a career that she enjoyed for over 30 years.
In 1990 Deborah met a therapist with an old dog named “Hero” who could get children to try harder, enjoy it, and achieve more than she could. She thought, “I’ve got to get me one of those!” and asked her obedience competition coach for a sheltie puppy. Master Yoda’s Jedi Luke became her first therapy dog, and she was hooked!
Debbie began learning all she could about animal-assisted therapy. She became a Pet Partner in 1993 and she and Luke worked together at school and visited at a local nursing home. She became a Pet Partner Instructor, Evaluator, Evaluator Instructor, and AAT Applications Instructor. She was able to study with Terri Ryan, Ian Dunbar, Ken McCort, Turid Rugaas, and Suzanne Clothier, and completed the University of Denver’s Animals And Human Health Certificate Program.
Deb was a founding member of Therapy Animals of Utah and served for many years on the Board of Directors before becoming Executive Director. She is the proud mother of two daughters and grandmother of five, and her home is shared and guarded by 2 shelties and 2 cats. When not engaged in animal-assisted therapy she loves to travel, read, write, paint, play the guitar, and spend time with the animals in Yellowstone.