CELEBRATING ten years of Creedon’s Dog Care in Cork, founder Nanci Creedon, a UCC graduate of zoology, has her hands full these days.
As well as running her business, including Creedon’s College which helps dog lovers to establish their own careers working with dogs, Nanci and her Scottish partner are the proud parents of two children —under the age of two. Bonnie will be two year soon and Cody was born in February this year.
Nanci, a certified dog behaviour consultant, says that the pressure of “the many hats I wear can become overwhelming and becoming a mum has been a major adjustment, predominantly in how I prioritise.”
Babies come first, as Bonnie pointed out to her mother in her own way.
“Yesterday, I opened the laptop to address urgent emails. But Bonnie gave me a stern ‘no’, closed the laptop for me, took my hand and insisted we hide behind the curtains until dad found us.
“I’m very much aware that, like puppies, babies don’t stay small for long so work can wait — but boy, does it take adjusting to.
“I was speaking to my sisters recently about how we are in awe of our mum. She had four children under six at one stage with three under three. My memories of my childhood are relaxed and harmonious. I take my hat off to full-time mums.”
There are often comparisons made between raising children and puppies.
“In reality, the majority of psychological concepts that we base human psychology on were initially studied in animals, then applied to humans, and today, we simply apply them back to dogs. Probably the thing my career has taught me that I apply to my parenting is patience, taking a second to breathe. Dogs can at times drive you crackers. Kids can drive you crackers. Allowing the overwhelming moments to alter your mood is to lose. Take a second, curse quietly so no-one hears you, then take a deep breath and compose yourself. It works wonders with two- legged folk and the four-legged.”
Nanci used her time during lockdown productively, putting the finishing touches to what is going to be one of her “proudest achievements” — the canine behaviour consulting diploma, the first of its kind in Ireland.
“I have designed the course that will provide learners with all of the knowledge requirements to become a certified dog behaviour consultant recognised internationally.
“The course will be delivered using a multitude of expert tutors, from veterinary surgeons to lecturers with doctorates in animal welfare law and of course, numerous canine behaviour consultants.”
The course will be delivered in stages. “Each stage will qualify the learner to work in different areas of the behaviour industry, meaning that learners can earn while they learn.”
In 2017, Creedon’s College became an approved provider of QQI programmes.
During lockdown, Nanci and her team released one online course and an online webinar, free of charge.
“This allows people to access science-based correct pet care information. It also allowed more people to see the benefits of studying online. Working from home, we also developed new software and systems to take more of our short courses online and this has been very much welcomed by budding pet professionals across Ireland.”
On site at South Cork Industrial estate in Togher, they invested heavily in renovating the premises so that their practical dog handling and dog grooming lectures can be delivered safely, allowing for social distancing.
“And we have introduced many new facilities that will maximise the safety of our learners and tutors,” said Nanci.
As a result of Covid-19, with people spending more time at home, acquiring dogs has become popular. But what was intended to enhance home and leisure time has led to dog stealing.
While Nanci says dog theft “has always been a threat, the crazy demand for dogs during lockdown has led to an increase in thefts — a simple supply and demand issue. “Who should be punished? Obviously those that rob the dogs. However, who is responsible? I’d lay quite a bit of the blame on those who purchase dogs without doing the proper research.
“In today’s world, you can’t pick up a paper or go on social media without being bombarded with information on how puppy farms and dodgy dog breeders are everywhere.
“Also, there are articles and blogs on how to ethically and correctly source a dog. If you meet someone in a car park to buy a puppy or purchase an unvaccinated dirty dog or meet a person selling a dog that doesn’t quiz you on your ability to care for the dog properly — and you still go ahead and buy this dog, then you are the problem.
“Puppy farms, dodgy breeders and dog thefts simply wouldn’t happen if the demand was not there. I’m sick of people telling me how terrible it is that their dog’s breeder did x, y and z or they think it was one of those puppy farms. They point the finger at the breeder but in my honest opinion, they need to realise their ignorance and take accountability for their contribution to this massive animal welfare crisis Ireland continues to face.
“We are already seeing pups being handed in to rescue centres. We call them ‘lockdown puppies’ because they have served their purpose, given the kids something to do for a while and made their owners’ Instagram accounts gain a bit of popularity. Then they are discarded for the animal welfare industry to deal with. It’s heartbreaking.”
Nanci says that lockdown has been “an absolute treat for most pet dogs. But the aftermath, when life returns to normal, is where we’re likely to see dogs struggling to adjust.”
With schools opening and some people returning to their offices, the long days for dogs can be lonely.
“The dogs have to get used to full bladders and they have excess energy that is not being burned off. It can be a struggle.
“My advice, for people facing challenges with their dogs, is to get in touch with your local association of pet dog trainers and get help early.
“It’s so much easier to address behaviour problems in the early days before they become established.”