Toys & Training

Meet the Suffolk girl who owns 85 pets – and counting


We Brits are a nation of animal lovers.

In line with statistics from Statista, 59% of British households have a pet – which works out to round 17 million pet-friendly households.

And whereas most individuals are inclined to have a pair, possibly a pair of canine, or a couple of cats, one Suffolk girl has taken it to a brand new stage – as a result of Zoe Willingham is the proud proprietor of 85 pets. Sure, you learn that proper – 85 pets.  


Zoe and her canine

– Credit score: Zoe Willingham

However how did the animal behaviourist find yourself with so many – and the way does she take care of them?  

“I’ve at all times been an animal individual. I had small furries after I was a baby, and my grandparents had canine,” she says.  

As she bought older, Zoe started working with animals – first as a vet nurse earlier than making the transfer over to pet vitamin and later vet prescription drugs.  

Zoe and some of her dogs


Zoe and a few of her canine

– Credit score: Zoe Willingham

“I had a high-powered company function, and though I cherished the work, I used my wage to rescue and rehabilitate animals, starting from Guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits to cats. I primarily had cats till I might have my very own canine,” she says.  

Ultimately, Zoe managed to safe a extra native job with much less journey concerned – that means she might lastly fulfil her goals of canine possession.  

“I attempted to search out trainers within the space, nevertheless it was exhausting as so many have been utilizing punitive coaching strategies, and that’s simply not how I deal with my animals. Ultimately, I discovered a one who satisfied me that with my love for animals, I ought to change into a coach myself.” 

Following years of learning, Zoe finally certified as an animal behaviourist and arrange her very personal enterprise, Finest Behaviour Canine Coaching.  

Zoe juggles caring for her pets alongside running her own business


Zoe juggles caring for her pets alongside working her personal enterprise

– Credit score: Zoe Willingham

And as her enterprise flourished over time, Zoe amassed an increasing number of pets.  

“In the intervening time, I’ve 85 pets. These vary from cats, canine, Guinea pigs and rabbits, to tortoises and parrots. Their ages vary from 12 weeks previous to fifteen years, and so they’re principally rescues,” she says.  

“Probably the most I’ve had at one time was over 100 animals, after I had much more rabbits, however I principally work with canine and cats.” 

Having saved so many pets over time, with lots of them coming from horrific backgrounds, it’s no shock Zoe doesn’t need to allow them to go after she’s constructed up such a bond with them.

Some of Zoe's dogs patiently waiting for treats


A few of Zoe’s canine patiently ready for treats

– Credit score: Zoe Willingham

“One standout case is my German Shepherd, Shadow, who was abused as a youthful canine. I took her on at two years previous, and after I bought her, she was matted, weighed 14kg, and never in a superb state. She was human reactive as a result of people had handled her badly, so she was my first huge behaviour canine,” Zoe explains.  

“I took her on with a view to rehome her, however her behavioural journey was fairly an extended one, and I ended up getting so hooked up to her. We grew to become one of the best of mates by all the work we did, and he or she ended up staying with me. If you begin working with them so intently, it’s exhausting to provide them up after you’ve performed a lot with them. However Shadow lives a beautiful life now – she’s practically 11 years previous and he or she’s had a pleasant turnaround.” 

After rescuing and rehabilitating many pets over time, you possibly can say Zoe has discovered her goal in life.  

Some of Zoe's dogs enjoying playtime


A few of Zoe’s canine having fun with playtime

– Credit score: Zoe Willingham

“It feels so good to do what I do – and I get as a lot from them as they do from me. It’s a two-way factor, and so they’re all the pieces to me. 

“They’re a part of my on a regular basis life. If somebody asks me to go wherever, I must examine I’ve bought cowl for all the animals – I can’t simply do what most individuals do and up and depart. Every part must be fairly well-planned – it is like a army operation.” 

Fortunately, Zoe’s mates and households are understanding, and are used to giving her three months’ discover forward of any social occasions.  

“9 occasions out of 10, my husband and I’ve to take it in turns doing stuff – it’s uncommon we get exit and do stuff collectively as a result of whenever you’ve bought this many animals, you may’t simply depart them.” 

Fortunately for her neighbours although, they’ve bought animal care proper on their doorsteps. “They seek advice from us as a petting zoo, or ‘Zoe’s ark’. Once they go away, we glance after their animals, and a few of my neighbours have come to my courses. And in the event that they’ve bought a pet downside, they’ll usually ring me for assist.” 

So what’s a day within the life like for a girl with practically 100 pets?  

At one point, Zoe had 100 pets


At one level, Zoe had 100 pets

– Credit score: Zoe Willingham

“I don’t have a median day as a result of I’m at all times tremendous busy with work and animals. Any of them may wish emergency vet care of particular care at any time, so I flow. However I normally get up very early to do the feeding and cleansing,” she says.  

Then Zoe will practice together with her canine, alongside working her enterprise. Working a enterprise from dwelling permits her to at all times be near her pets.  

“Then I do a mid-day examine, so I refill bowls, examine that they’re okay, groom them and provides them cuddles.” 

Zoe says that whereas on her lunch break, she not often stops to eat, as she would fairly spend time with the animals.  

As well as being an avid pet lover, Zoe runs her own animal behaviour business


In addition to being an avid pet lover, Zoe runs her personal animal behaviour enterprise

– Credit score: Zoe Willingham

“Then it’s again to work for me till the early night, after I take the canine on their walks. My husband comes dwelling straight from work and helps me with cleansing and feeding. We’ll eat as soon as all the pieces is completed, and we’ll deep clear the entire home from prime to backside as soon as the animals are settled and sleeping. I usually go to mattress at 2am, however someday we now have actually troublesome days the place the animals want vet remedy, so my husband and I’ll keep up all night time giving them around the clock care.” 

And when the climate has been as scorching because it has as of late, Zoe has much more work to do to ensure all of her pets are protected and sound.  

“I’ve been run off my toes checking them each hour, particularly the animals which can be exterior. I’m at all times altering their water as a result of their bottles have been heating up a lot.” 

As well as being an avid pet lover, Zoe runs her own animal behaviour business


In addition to being an avid pet lover, Zoe runs her personal animal behaviour enterprise

– Credit score: Zoe Willingham

To make sure all of her pets are as comfy as attainable, she has air-con for the canine and followers for the cats. “I’ve additionally put paddling swimming pools out for them, to maintain them good and funky,” she provides.  

However with so many pets on the go, what occurs when a brand new arrival turns up, and the place do all of them keep?  

“We’re continuously doing work to the home to accommodate all of our animals, however the cats have all their beds upstairs and the canine are downstairs. And we now have an animal hospital, so if any of them are sick, there’s a protected area for them with a mattress, and a warmth lamp. New kittens and cats go in there to be remoted to ensure they’ve bought no ailments earlier than they will be a part of the others. However the different cats get to see them by the door and sniff them, so we do a gradual integration.” 

Canine, who’re susceptible to be extra social, haven’t any difficulty becoming a member of the Willingham family as Zoe explains. “All of the canine are fairly used to being round different canine, in order that they love when a brand new one arrives. The important thing factor is to ensure we give them introductions in a protected setting the place there’s a number of area for them, in order that they’re not overwhelmed. As soon as they’ve performed their introductions, I make sure that any canine coming into our dwelling will likely be okay with our canine already right here. 

Zoe and some of her dogs


Zoe and a few of her canine

– Credit score: Zoe Willingham

“We have a tendency to search out that anytime a brand new one is available in, one of many different canine takes them below their wing and inside about 24 hours, there’s a bond that’s developed and so they’re better of mates and can observe their lead.” 

With so many pets below one roof, residing in concord, does Zoe plan on stopping anytime quickly? 

“I by no means plan any of them – so by no means say by no means! If an animal wants assist and I might help them I’ll, even when it means I can’t eat for every week as a result of we’re paying vet payments. I’m sickened by the disaster affecting animals proper now, and I’m tireless in my ardour to maintain doing this. I can’t see that ever stopping.” 

To seek out out extra about Zoe and the work she does, go to www.bestbehaviourdogtraining.co.uk



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