People know you as the Dog Alchemist—tell us how your journey as a dog behaviourist started.
When I got my first dog ten years back, I also started volunteering with dog shelters, and started to realised how bad some of the conditions were. I was doing PR at that time, so I felt that I had the tools necessary to help these shelters out in a more meaningful way. I also love working with dogs—especially aggressive dogs that people do not really want to work with—so I made sure I was certified and picked up working experience in the shelters.
Share with us more about your ongoing fundraising efforts for the dog shelters.
I’ve been raising money for many years through a big 100km race, but because of Covid-19, that has been put on hold this year. Instead, I’m hoping to use my birthday to start a donation drive—which actually kicks off today! The money goes towards relieving some of the shelter’s expenses, like rental, medical fees, and making sure the dogs are well-fed.
What are some common issues you’ve noticed with dogs in Singapore?
Lack of socialisation. Dog owners might notice how some dogs tend to be aggressive towards other dogs they meet during walks, or charge at them without a discernible reason. This mostly stems from them not interacting with other dogs regularly. The other issue is separation anxiety. Dogs are sometimes left alone at home for long hours, and they end up barking at the door which will also lead to complaints from neighbours. In both cases, it’s about getting your dog used to these situations.
You changed jobs after spending many years in PR—was the job switch a difficult process?
It was a calculated risk, definitely. I wouldn’t say it was difficult, because there was a lot of planning involved before I decided to switch lines. I also made sure to juggle both job scopes for a few years before deciding what I really wanted to pursue.
Are there any assumptions or misconceptions you face when you tell people about your job?
Actually, people are mostly interested rather than doubtful. Some of them call me the Dog Whisperer and believe my job has a psychic element to it, but that’s not true. I analyse a dog’s behavioural patterns and interactions to deduce the issues they might be facing.
How would you describe your sense of style?
I like putting my own signature on the items I own. If there’s a particular item or style that catches my eye, I’ll try to see how I can customise or put a spin on it to truly make it personal. I don’t believe in following trends or brands either—my experience with working in fashion taught me that money cannot buy you style, you have to add your own personal touch to pull it off.
Marie was previously featured here.