Talking to the animals! with Rosie Barclay

I owe the internet a debt of gratitude. Twitter and facebook, and of course Dog Star Daily, have opened up some great friendships and collaborations for me and have allowed me to meet some amazing dog trainers from all over the world. I have learned a lot and remain humbled by their skill, experience and compassion. I thought it was my turn to repay some of this debt by introducing some of the top pet behaviourists here in the UK so we can share their experiences, too. What makes someone choose this career?

Rosie Barclay BSc(Hons) MPhil CCAB is a Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist and Chair of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC). As well as TV and radio appearances and working with dogs and owners, Rosie has used her skills to help the animals at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey. I asked Rosie how she first got into the training world.

'Doctor Doolittle helped me to choose this career path. My grandmother took me to see it at the pictures back in the late 60’s and when I got back I cried and cried. My poor mother was distraught with worry and demanded to know what my grandmother had done to me. I just howled out very loudly “Oh mummy when I grow up I want to talk to the animals” and I went ahead and sort of did just that'.

'The thing I love most about my job is meeting all the different dogs and cats and their owners. I also have had the huge privilege to work with animals you don’t normally find in someone’s living room, like a lemur or a Western Lowland Gorilla. I grew up reading all of Gerald Durrell’s books and to have played a small part in his vision was truly a dream come true. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is an international charity working globally towards their mission of saving species from extinction'.

'I even have an original hand painted piece of artwork by Gina the Orangutan. I call it an abstract in blue and gold and it only cost me a bunch of grapes.'

Rosie is known for her approachable and common-sense manner; 'My first priority when dealing with an owner and pet is to make sure they are fully reassured that I am not going to turn up and shout at them for allowing their dog to jump onto the bed or their cat for drinking water out of the bathroom tap'.

It's not simply about the animals though. 'Owners inspired me to write my book. There are already many great books on the market aimed at trainers and behaviourists but I wanted mine to reach the dog owner. I wanted one that I could offer to my clients to help them remember some of things we had talked about and to reassure them that it doesn’t really matter if their dog isn’t perfect, that it probably isn’t their fault and that they are not on their own.

If someone wanted to get into this field I would say that it’s not enough to just love working with animals you have to love working with their owners as well.'

'The best pieces of advice I have ever received are don’t just do what is expected of you, try to do just that little bit more. Also, don’t look directly at a gorilla when he has a huge clump of something that looks like mud in his hand'.

About Rosie:

Rosie holds a BSc (Hons) in Zoology and an MPhil in Animal Behaviour and Welfare from Nottingham University and has lectured university and veterinary nurse students. She is presently consulting as a clinical animal behaviourist in Jersey Channel Islands.

Rosie was regularly featured on Channel Four's "Pet Rescue" and is a contributing author in "The APBC book of Companion Animal Behaviour". She has also written her own book “Good Dog? Bad Dog?" and is a published author in peer reviewed journals, writes for the media and pet related companies and has appeared on local and national radio. She is currently involved in writing a paper, which looks at the importance of viewing the parents of a puppy in terms of likely future behavioural problems, which has been accepted for publication in “The Veterinary Record”.

About the Durrell Conservation Trust:-

Committed to conserving the diversity and integrity of the life on earth, Durrell has developed a worldwide reputation for its pioneering conservation techniques. Gerald Durrell OBE was a naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, author, and television presenter. The founder of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust he was passionate about creating a reserve in which animals in need of protection could be kept and bred. In 1988 Gerry wrote a letter, which was buried in a time capsule at the trust. In it he wrote “We Hope” an incredibly moving and passionate letter, which is as relevant today as it was then.



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