Dog exporter in lockdown with 11 puppies
Angel Burgess could be forgiven for going barking mad after pandemic travel restrictions left her cooped up at home with 11 puppies for company.
The Bermudian founder and owner of Puppylove BDA sources dogs of various breeds and exports them to clients on the island from the United Kingdom, where she lives.
Closure of LF Wade International Airport has meant that several dogs that were meant to have travelled to Bermuda by now, remain stuck in England with Ms Burgess.
Now she finds herself looking after eight French bulldogs — the most in-demand breed right now — a rottweiler, a golden retriever and a Yorkshire terrier, all aged between 14 and 18 weeks.
She launched the business three years ago as a sideline, but demand has picked up markedly in recent months to the point that it is now a full-time job.
“I've sent six puppies to Bermuda this year, in addition to the 11 that are with me now,” she said in an interview from her home in Leicester in the English Midlands.
Clients had already paid for the dogs now sharing Ms Burgess's four-bedroom home before flights were suspended and so she was obliged to pick them up and house them temporarily.
Ms Burgess has had the 11 dogs for the past four weeks. They are on a strict schedule, spending some time in their crates, playing in the garden, chewing on their toys and eating.
“There's a lot of noise,” Ms Burgess said. “It's like being a schoolteacher, getting to know which child's going to get in a fight, which child's going to cry. I'm getting to know their different temperaments and personalities.
“We keep them happy and healthy. When they rip up their toys we get them some more. They probably think they're in one big party with all their friends. They're fine. It's just me and my clients thinking: what's next?
“The clients are understanding, obviously there's nothing I can do. We have a WhatsApp group, we talk every day and encourage each other, and I send them pictures and updates on the pups. We've just got to ride out this storm together.”
Ms Burgess has plenty of young helpers on hand, joining her in lockdown, to deal with the workload of looking after the puppies.
Her daughters, Zoya and Ziye Burgess, who are in further education in the UK are there. Also, two young Bermudian friends of the family who also live in the Midlands, Zaui Raynor and Jakeem Jennings, are also in the house.
“They're all helping out, so I'm not alone in this,” Ms Burgess said.
Her husband Jason Burgess was due to fly out to join her this month, but travel restrictions put paid to those plans.
Ms Burgess is in her fourth year living in the UK, although she spends the summers in Bermuda. This year, things may have to be different, depending on how long she has to keep the puppies.
“What really worries me is that French bulldogs can't travel on British Airways — they don't allow short-nose dogs to travel. So it takes them three days to get to Bermuda from the UK.
“The last stop is New York, which right now is one of the worst places in the world for the coronavirus.
“Also Frenchies can't travel through the hot months, because once it gets to a certain temperature, they can't fly. So if the flights from New York are not up and running again by about June, then I'm going to have these puppies until September.”
However challenging her plight, Ms Burgess is not feeling sorry for herself.
“We have a problem but it does not compare with the problems of those who are losing their loved ones,” she said.
“We have to keep things in perspective and stay as positive as possible.”
• For more information, see Puppylove BDA's Facebook page