Help for families wanting dog and baby to share home
WHEN Rachel Butler came home with her newborn baby, she feared she might have to get rid of her dogs.
Her maternal instincts told her that the baby's safety was paramount and exposing her son to a possible attack by her two pets was too risky.
But after her husband persuaded her to think carefully about the situation, she decided to keep her beloved Staffordshire bull terriers and now she is delighted she did.
Four years on, the Tewkesbury-based dog trainer is launching an unusual new service to help other people in the same situation.
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The 34-year-old intends to run group courses and have in-house consultations to teach people how to prepare for keeping a baby and dog in the same home.
Initially, the sessions will be free, though she then plans to charge to help supplement her income as a dog trainer.
Rachel lives with husband Mathew, their four-year-old son Oliver and one-year-old daughter Ella, in Cypress Road, Walton Cardiff.
She is the first person in the UK to become an instructor for Dogs and Storks, a programme offered by American firm Family Paws.
She said: "You can safely have babies and dogs but you have to prepare. It needs to start as soon as you find out you're pregnant.
"I remember the day I walked home with my four-day-old baby. My initial instinct was that I didn't want the dogs in the house.
"I didn't know how to introduce the dogs to the baby."
Rachel cares passionately about dogs, having taken on her pets after they were left without a home by their previous owner.
She has also worked for the Blue Cross, the RSPCA and Dogs for the Disabled.
She added: "As the mum of two young children as well as the owner of two dogs, I fully appreciate the concern parents feel when trying to prepare their dog for the arrival of a new family member.
"I wish I'd known about Dogs and Storks when I was pregnant and I hope to be able to help make the journey as stress-free as possible for other dog-loving families."
For more details, visit www.happydoghappyowner.co.uk or ring Rachel on 07789 887929.