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Pet Care: with Emma Ford

Emma Ford is Goldrush’s UK and Yangshuo based pet consultant. Originally from the UK, Emma’s background includes her Master’s degree in Biodiversity Management. Her focus to date has been on animal conservationism, including the challenges faced by reptiles in the illegal chameleon trade. Currently based in Yangshuo, China, Emma is a freelance consultant focusing on domestic pets. In this article, she reflects on whether or not it’s better to select an adopted rescue pet or a purebred animal from a pet breeder.

First considerations

Dogs are amazing when we think of how much they can provide for humans: assistance, herding, search and rescue and of course companionship to name but a few. It is easy to want to have a pet dog; they are adorable, loyal and loving. But it is also important to remember they come with a big responsibility too. Ask yourself the following: "Do I have the time? Do I have the funds for vet bills, pet care, food and so on? Do I have the space?"

Do your research to find out exactly what having a dog entails. When considering getting a dog it’s important to think about your limitations and what kind of dog will suit your lifestyle. Dogs are a big commitment and require time, money and love. If you have decided a dog is right for you then the next step is to decide where to find your doggy soulmate.

Adopt vs Shop

Here at Goldrush magazine we are big advocates of the "adopt don’t shop" philosophy, but we shall explore all possibilities to help you decide which is best for you and how you can make the ethical choice either way.

Firstly, let’s look at adoption. Some concerns people have with adopting include not having knowledge of the dog’s background. Potentially they may have previously suffered, resulting in behavioural problems. However, this is not something that patience, love and understanding cannot overcome. Not all rescue dogs are traumatised and most of them make great pets.

Remember - "rescue" doesn’t refer to animals with certain failings. It refers to animals who have been failed by certain people. If you chose to adopt you are also helping a save a life, which is a hugely satisfying and rewarding experience.

If you do opt to shop rather than adopt then try to go and visit the mother and the puppies at the breeder’s home. This way you can see they are from a suitable environment and talk with the breeder to confirm they are responsible and not just in it for profit. Buying directly from an ethical breeder is always better than going to a local pet shop where it may be difficult to find out the source of the puppies. Many pet shops are supplied by puppy farms, which often breed the mother too much, which is exhausting physically and mentally for her. Buying from a unethical breeder can also result in your dog suffering health problems down the road as pedigrees can be prone to health issues.

All this is not to say there is no place for responsible breeders. Certain pedigrees can be particularly good choices for working dogs or for people with allergies, but with millions of homeless dogs in the world if you are looking for a companion we recommend you go to a local charity to find your furry friend.

The big day

So, after careful consideration you have found your new family member and the day has come to bring them home. This is an exciting and special time, but it can be unsettling for your new dog and they may need some time to settle into their new home. The first month or so will need your patience as the dog settles in and learns the ropes of family life. You can expect toilet accidents, chewing, crying in the night and general chaos.

So here are some top tips to help your new pooch:

· Firstly, dog proof the house; anything hazardous or chewable should be put up out of their reach.

· A comfort toy with a familiar smell will help to calm the dog.

· A comfortable bed in a quiet place will help to make your dog feel secure.

· Introduce the food, water and toilet area to the dog but let them explore their new surroundings at their own pace.

· Finally, just give your dog time and patience and enjoy this new special companion that you now have!

Do you have a question about your pet?

Ask our Animal Behaviourist, Emma Ford, for advice.


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