Rachel Maclean and Phoebe

Owner’s Name: Rachel Maclean      

Constituency: Redditch

Dog’s Name: Phoebe

Breed: Jack Russell/Staffie Cross (Rescue, so not 100% sure. Apparently according to DNA test there is some poodle but I can’t see it!)

 Sex: Female

Age: About 8 but see above

Colour: Tan/White


What are your favourite characteristics in your dog?

For a rescue Pheobe has the sweetest temperament. Even though we have only had her for a year I could not imagine my life without her. I have a really stressful job being away from home most of the week and I miss her terribly. She greets me when I come home, sits on my lap when I’m working and watching TV or chatting with the family. My husband has to send me video clips of her every day before I go to sleep while I’m here in Parliament.  She sits in my bed while I have my morning cup of tea. As a rescue she hasn’t been fully trained and socialised and we still need to work on this but we feel so lucky that we selected her from the Dogs Home.  She is lovely with children and people and always greets them enthusiastically! She is a little bit cheeky and naughty, and tries to steal titbits from our dinner plates. She is the best thing that has happened to our family.

What makes your dog such a great animal?

She loves long walks as much as we do and we have never succeeded in tiring her out. She has walked up giant peaks in the most mountainous terrain of the British Isles in all weathers, and has never been tired. She is the ideal companion, energetic, enthusiastic, trotting ahead of us. The only bad thing is she chases sheep so we need to be very careful when we are in rural areas and cannot trust her off lead! 

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Puppy breeding and import – legislation doesn’t seem to be stopping this growing problem.

Breeding of inappropriate breeds, eg, French bulldogs. The surge in popularity for French bulldogs is helping to fuel dangerous overbreeding resulting in deformities and birth defects such as respiratory problems due to their exaggerated features. I think more need to be done to make the public aware of issues such as this.

Lack of chipping. I was quite shocked how many dogs come into our local dogs home who are not chipped.

What role should training and socialisation play in a dog’s life and what is your top training tip?

It is very important, we have seen with Phoebe that she hadn’t been trained and it’s very difficult to re-train an adult terrier

My top tip for Phoebe is not to use treats too much when training but to use other forms of reward such as voice, praise, and pats. Over-use of treats leads to her starting to beg for them at all times.

Why should your dog be crowned Westminster Dog of the Year 2017?

I doubt there is any dog with greater stamina, something that all Parliamentarians need in large quantities to endure this job!


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