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Tails from a dog behaviourist: Life at the Cheltenham Animal Shelter

Do you love dogs? If you do, Rosie Taylor-Trigg may have your dream job.

Five years ago, Rosie joined the team at Cheltenham Animal Shelter, a rehoming center dedicated to the care and enrichment of animals big and small. At the time of writing, they have over 57 furry friends on site, and they see over 650 of them come and go each year.

Aside from animal care, the center also a learning program for children that teaches runs compassion and animal welfare, along with the services of a low-cost veterinary practice, to ensure pets can get the medical care they need.

READ MORE: Urgent appeal launched after Cheltenham shelter inundated with stray pets

So, what does a dog behaviourist do every day?

The first thing Rosie does when she clocks in is having a morning meeting with all staff who work at the Shelter.

“We have a nice catch-up and discuss which dogs need what that day. Then there’s usually a couple of one to ones each day, where we phone an owner and explain about their new dog’s behavioral issues and how to deal with them. Then we’ll have a home visit where we’ll take a dog to their potential new home so that they can get used to a new environment, this is usually for the more nervous dogs we have. A typical day is a culmination of all these things.” She said.

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Rosie is a part of a behaviourist team of two and life at the Shelter means ‘no day is quite the same.’ With dogs being ‘signed over’ – given to the Shelter – for different reasons every week, Rosie and her counterpart oversee assessing the dogs for aggressive and nervous behavior traits and decide on the next steps in training and what kind of people could be the perfect match for the pet’s new family.

If after reading this you’re thinking, “I really want to do what Rosie does!” then you’ll probably have to start with volunteering. “I was going through a lot of anxiety, and volunteering with rescue dogs really helped me. So selfishly, I wanted more of that. But I also wanted to give back.”

But if you’re also thinking “I really want to adopt a dog!” Rosie has the questions you should ask yourself before committing:

  • Do you have enough time to give your dog?
  • Do you have a flexible schedule for dogs who may suffer from separation anxiety from previous owners?
  • Are you in the right physical environment? Do you have access to walking trails or a garden?
  • Are you likely to change your life in the next five years, eg having children, going travelling?

Most importantly:

  • Are you looking at it as a life commitment?

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Despite all these things to consider when adopting a canine companion, Rosie still emphasizes adopting over shopping.

“With adoption, you get a bit of a full package, in that you get support from the Shelter you adopt from. You get behavioral support, the Shelter’s vet will check over the dog before they go home, you get ongoing support that you wouldn’t get from buying from a breeder. But you also get the chance to give a dog a second life.”

Though her job can be emotional, stressful, and tiring, she says it’s all worth it: “Seeing the animals go home and stay home. That’s definitely the thing that keeps me in the job.”

If you’d like more information on the centre, its website offers lots of helpful advice for adopting and after adopting. The center runs on donations so if you’d like to donate, you can do so on the site. It’s also released a video on its Youtube channel all about the amazing work the Shelter does and what all the furry friends get up to.

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