In WOMEN

Ms Marie Choo- The Alchemist and the Avid Dog Rescuer

It was her love for fashion that drove Ms Marie Choo to pursue a career in Fashion. Although she took a diploma in Banking and Finance, she went on to become an Advertising and PR Assistant with Club 21.

After a year and a half with Club 21, Marie took her ardent love and passion for fashion to a higher level. She packed her bags and moved to London to pursue a degree in Fashion Product Management. She believed in learning and knowing as much as she could if she had a zealous passion for something.

Upon graduating from Middlesex University, Marie returned to Singapore and joined the FJ Benjamin Group. She climbed the corporate ladder rather quickly and became their Head of Marketing and Communications for their Fashion Division for 4 years before she decided to take a break.

Being in the corporate world for a long time, it was just very natural for Marie to feel restless after a short time and being the workaholic she was, she started her own PR Company called Alchemy Consultancy. Marie put in a lot of effort and worked long and arduous hours during the first few years of the inception of the company, but she was blessed with top brands which placed their trust in her.

Marie started off with clients from the LVMH group, namely Thomas Pink, Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon, Krug, Hennessy, Belvedere, Cloudy Bay and Cape Mentelle. It has been 6 years since Marie started Alchemy Consultancy, and she is very charmed to still count the prominent brands such as G.H.Mumm, Perrier-Jouet, Gaggenau, Schott Zwiesel as her key accounts.

At the initial start of her PR Company, Marie suffered a heavy setback by partnering the wrong person and because she did not think that a partnership agreement was required, things went awry. She had to pay a substantial amount of money to buy out the shares which her ex-partner held. This episode made Marie more wary about contractual terms and the need for contracts to be in place being in the business.

I met Marie once when I was starting my own business. She was prim and proper, dressed-to-the nines while I was a frumpy mother who had just given birth to a 3.75kg baby. What’s more, I did not even cover my grey hairs and I felt so flustered sitting beside such a charmer. Marie was poise and she offered to buy me a cup of coffee. I could not remember what our discussion was about but I could vividly remember that she warned me to be careful about distributing proposals because someone might just take your ideas and make it theirs. From a very experienced Marcoms and PR specialist, I heeded her golden words and I protected myself by becoming more alert and cautious about sending out drafted proposals.

Besides being the owner of a PR company, Marie’s other full-time job is being the driver and founder of the Dogs Owners Guidance Support (D.O.G.S). D.O.G.S (Singapore) Limited is a registered charity under the Charities Act. The charity organisation’s mission is to be a voice for the dogs, to assist various dogs’ welfare groups, independent dog rescuers, and help dog owners.

The dog charity is also focused on public awareness programs on dog ownership, good canine behaviour, preparing and providing volunteers and fosterers with the right knowledge to help dogs. The charity also provided complimentary rehabilitation sessions for dogs to overcome their issues which made them more adoptable. The ultimate goal of D.O.G.S  is to help rehome rescued dogs, impart knowledge to owners to ensure that they have a meaningful relationship with their dogs, try to reduce dog abuse and abandonment and other dog related issues.

Marie’s craving for learning about a subject she is very keen on is insatiable. She even took a degree in Canine Behaviour and Training so that she is equipped with more knowledge on canine behavior and how to rescue dogs using the correct methodology. Marie’s love for dogs started at a young age. She always had a dog as a pet during her growing years. However, the eventual turning point for her was Butter, the Shetland Sheepdog that came into Marie’s life in 2010. Butter had a great influence on Marie and even inspired her to volunteer in dog welfare, start a dog charity and even pursue a degree in Canine Behaviour and Training.

Marie’s love for dogs was forever giving. She said, “I was born to love dogs.” To her, dogs are very inspiring creatures. I could not agree more because a dog’s loyalty, unconditional love and faith for their owners are sterling virtues for humanity to learn from.

Marie’s passion in making D.O.G.S a success derived from seeing the dogs that they had rescued dogs go to great homes and living a good life, away from battering and abuse.  Some of the most touching moments which Marie had, were when new owners of the rescued dogs sent her pictures of the rescued dogs looking happy and well-taken of. To Marie, all the rescue dogs that came into her life were very much like her own children. She knew each of them by names, their temperament and she endeavored to stay in touch with the new families the rescued dogs were placed with. Marie remained very concerned about how they were doing after they were being placed with their new owners.

Apart from running D.O.G.S, Marie is also a dog behaviourist and trainer who use positive reinforcement techniques to convert a dog’s undesired and ill-favoured behaviourial patterns into desired and coveted behaviourial patterns.  In 2012, Marie started to train dogs officially at the shelters where she volunteered whereby she assisted to modify and reform the behaviour of the rescued dogs. She has completed her module in Understanding Canine Care & Behaviour from The Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour and Training and she is now in the midst of completing her second module in Common Canine Behaviour Problems. She is trying hard to complete her modules and crossing the hurdles necessary so that she can pursue her degree in Canine Behaviour and Training with the Middlesex University in the United Kingdom.

D.O.G.S takes very strict protocols when it comes to an intervention and rescue.

The first step is to send to the vet for a basic check-up because the charity would need to know the general health of the dog and if it had any contagious diseases before they were sent it to a foster home or had the dog rehomed. It was only responsible and proper for the charity to inform the potential family about the possible financial and time commitment when it comes to adopting a dog with any illnesses.

The second step is to assess the temperament of the dog. Besides running her own PR agency, Marie is also practicing as a dog behaviourist and trainer. Hence, that is why she is also responsible for the most of the hands-on work with the dogs which D.O.G.S rescues and handles. Once she determines the temperament of the dog, it is much easier for the charity to match the dog to the right family.

The third step is to create awareness for the dog on D.O.G.S Facebook page. This is also how the charity looks for potential fosterers and adopters.

The final step is that once the dog charity finds a potential fosterer or adopter, the next thing to do is for a home visit as the charity needs to ascertain that the environment is conducive for the dog’s well-being. At the same time, it is also an opportunity for Marie and her team to advise the fosterer or adopter about basic dog training and behaviour.

With so much on her plate, Marie still makes time for her husband of eight years. They are still very much in love and would go for daily walks with their dogs and go on dates at any time of the week. This Valentine’s day was special for them because the couple spent it with a good friend whose husband was overseas. Another meaning of Valentine’s Day is also Friendship Day and Marie had the best of both worlds this Valentine’s Day.

Ms Marie Choo

 

Marie and Husband
Marie and Husband

 

Marie's Dogs
Marie’s Dogs

 

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