One of my favorite women once said: ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ – Maya Angelou

It is one of the reasons why I have always been inspired by the activists. This may sound cliche but this week is a time to reflect another activist who is recognized for her achievements as an Under Armour Ambassador. She has done well which made me feel life isn’t about living posh but a worthwhile contribution to anyone who deserves it.

Yes, Marie Choo is more than just a zealous runner, but also the co-founder of Dogs Owners Guidance Support (D.O.G.S). Having been in the fashion and PR industry for more than a decade, Ashlogue finds out how passionate she is for the rescue dogs than being a high-powered woman on International Women’s Day.

Marie, tell us what inspired you to have this huge transition from your PR to a healthy and fitness journey.

M: After 15 years as a PR professional, it was time for me to retire from it and move on to pursue my new passion, which is health and fitness, as well as working with dogs. It was a natural and organic progression for me because my love for running and eating well became a large part of my life. As much as I love my job as a PR professional working with luxury and fashion brands, I find myself wanting to spend more time to run and inspire others to embark on their own fitness journeys. The other reason for me to retire from PR is also because of my career switch to being a dog behaviorist and trainer. Some may know me as The Dog Alchemist who trains dogs for private clients, when I am not volunteering my time at dog shelters rehabilitating rescue dogs.

How was D.O.G.S born?

M: D.O.G.S stands for Dogs Owners Guidance Support and I co-founded it in June 2012. I became a dog owner in 2010 when my husband and I got our first Shetland Sheepdog named Butter. I went on to make friends with other dog owners in the neighborhood and one of them took me to a dog shelter. Appalled and overwhelmed by the fact that there are many rescue dogs living in no-kill dog shelters operated by kind hearted souls, I decided that I want to do my part to help them. Instead of having a dog shelter, I wanted to help in my own ways by creating awareness about their plights and raising funds to assist the existing dog shelters. This is a short album you can refer to for a pictorial intro of how we started back then. It has since evolved.

Share with us your past years of effort on D.O.G.S.

M: With D.O.G.S, I have volunteered my time to rehabilitate rescue dogs at shelters. I also visited schools to give talks to the young kids on how they should approach dogs and respect their space. I also do fundraising to raise money to buy dog food for the various shelters. D.O.G.S also helps other shelters to re-home dogs and assist in financial support for rescue dogs that need medical attention.

Tell us about the inspiration behind D.O.G.S. 

M: I believe education and awareness is of paramount importance when it comes to shifting public perception of stray dogs, and to also promote good dog ownership to reduce abandonment and abuse cases in Singapore. The inspiration behind D.O.G.S is mainly my love for dogs and that I can be a voice for the voiceless rescue dogs. Instead of being hidden away from society, I wanted to create awareness for them so more people will know that there are dog shelters in Singapore and that we can all do our part to help; be it adopt, foster, donate or volunteer. It is when we work together that we can make Singapore a better place for the less fortunate dogs out there.

Describe how you raise funds for D.O.G.S and the current campaigns.

M: I raise funds though Facebook mainly. Using my network and reputation, I have managed to raised over $40,000 over the past few years. Last year, I raised over $21,960 to buy one year of food for over 100 dogs at Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter.

For this year, I am combining my love of running and dogs to do a special fundraising campaign named ‘I RUN FOR RESCUE DOGS’. This is a personal fundraising campaign and I am doing it on my personal Facebook page. In just 3 weeks (I started it on 21 Feb 16), I have raised $12,285, thanks to the support from my friends.

Describe how Under Armour champions the underdog and support the dog welfare organizations.

M: I am very fortunate to have the support of Under Armour, for they believed in me – the underdog who runs for rescue dogs. With their support, I have the chance to be given additional platforms to promote my cause, such as being part of the recent International Women’s Day event at Parco Bugis Junction to connect with more people. I am just an ordinary person with an extraordinary dream of running marathons around the world. Being the average everyday urbanite who started running only 2 years ago as opposed to being a national athlete is something the public can resonate with. I ran my first marathon just shy of 10 months as being a rookie runner and I guess that my story has managed to inspire some to start their own fitness journey. My hash tag on Instagram is #i_m_possible, which is a play on the word “impossible” because I believe I am possible in doing anything if I set my mind to it. I have been wearing Under Armour for years and it is great to have an international brand supporting my cause to add credibility. There is also Coached Fitness who believed in my cause, with founder Ben Pulham designing a training plan for my upcoming marathons. With a personalized training plan, I hope to get better as a runner and to continue to inspire others in their fitness pursuits. My transformation story into a fit runner has opened new doors for media features. I used to be featured for my style or as a foodie but now I am being featured for my fitness pursuits, and I see it is a great opportunity for me to talk about rescue dogs.

So, what’s next for yourself and D.O.G.S?

M: For this year, I am focusing more on the personal fundraising efforts under ‘I RUN FOR RESCUE DOGS’ with the 2 marathons that I will be running this year. This year, I will be doing Gold Coast Airport Marathon on 3 July and New York City Marathon on 6 November. Prior to that, I will also be doing the NTUC INCOME Run350 half marathon in Singapore in April as a lead up to Gold Coast. My goal is to run marathons around the world, with my focus on conquering the 6 world majors – Tokyo (done in Feb 15), New York City (this year in Nov), London, Berlin, Chicago and hopefully qualify for Boston someday (the holy grail of marathons because you need to be fast to qualify to ballot for a place).

|| Photo courtesy of Shaun Tay, Under Armour & Cheryl Tay ||