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     Volume 4 Issue 69 | October 28, 2005 |

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Man's Best Friend

Elita Karim

The saying that a dog is a man's best friend is probably more appropriate for the west, where there are special training and care centres, hospitals and even beauty salons for dogs. This even goes to the limits and beyond, where all made-up dogs and puppies have their own beauty-contests and win ribbons.

Even in our part of the world, there are people who enjoy the companionship of dogs, though taking a dog to a beauty contest is still unheard of here. However, probably for the very first time in Bangladesh, a pet school has emerged especially for dogs and puppies, where dogs are trained and given medical care.

Pet Care, located in Green Road, recently emerged as a training school for dogs. Every Friday dogs and their owners come to the centre and follow the training instructions given by Dr Khan, trainer and owner of the centre.

The course, offered at Tk 1,000, goes up to six months, after which a new batch of dogs comes in for training. "Over the weeks, I train the dogs to follow voice instructions: to have them sit, or keep silent or fetch things," says Dr Khan. "I also give certain instructions to the owners so that they can practice them on their pets over the week, till next class on Friday, when I give them something new."

Pet Care offers plenty of services for, not only dogs, but other pets as well, such as cats, rabbits, zoo animals like deer, bears, monkeys, lions and cage birds as well. "We treat these animals and give them a routine check up for viruses, fungus, bacteria and all other kinds of germs and diseases," he explains. "We also help owners get their pets registered if required and vaccinate them over a period of time."

The doctor was rather sceptical about his clinic's success at the beginning, but was overwhelmed by the response from the dogs and their owners "There are a lot of dog owners in areas like Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara, especially foreigners who have dogs and need trainers," he explains, "I go over to their residence and train the dogs once a week."

Being a vet by profession, Dr Khan has to go to places to take care of various animals as well. "Very recently, I had to go to Barisal to treat a bear in the zoo," he smiles.

As a veterinarian, Dr Khan was taught to look after poultry animals, domestic animals and cattle, which even have special clinics and time slots for vaccinations. The syllabus did not include pets, and the situation has not changed over the years. "We are still not being taught anything regarding the medical care of pet animals," he says, "in fact, the government completely ignores the part where pet animals are in question."

As a budding vet, Khan faced the age-old problem that his college-syllabus was offering. He started to read and learn by himself about pet animals, dogs in particular. "I noticed that there are no modern technologies present in the country that can actually help the owners take better care of their pets," Dr Khan says. "Therefore, I thought of opening up a training centre and actually practise what I have been reading and learning over the years."

The response was much better than he had expected it to be.

"We have just a few vets in the city," he adds. "If each of us could open a special training centre for pets, I think it would benefit both the pet owners in the city and us as vets as well."

According to Dr Khan, training is the most important aspect of dog breeding. A well-trained and good mannered puppy or a dog is always a joy to live with, but an untrained and uncivilised dog can be a perpetual nightmare. "Puppies need training from the age of three months," he adds. "We can begin this training from Pet Care itself."

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