By Jessica Hehir-Smith via SWNS
Meet Doug - the domesticated prairie dog who lives his best life traveling the USA with his devoted owner.
She took him home in early 2021 and let Doug free-roam in her apartment.
Doug is now living his best life and goes on road trips and plane journeys as they visit all corners of the US.
He has explored lakes, beaches and parks in Flordia, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, New York and Vermont.
Sarah, who works as a private tutor in Gainsville, described one-year-old Doug as a loving pet - who she simply couldn’t live without.
“He is very cuddly and very affectionate. Whenever you go over to him, he's always excited and happy for the attention," she said.
Adopting Doug was not without its challenges though. Sarah revealed that keeping him contained and safe when he first arrived was very difficult, as she underestimated his need to climb and explore.
But the pair are now closer than ever and spend their days cuddling in bed, sharing snacks and exploring new places together.
Sarah has even started training Doug to use a rabbit harness, which he loves and wears to go on adventures.
"I take him with me wherever I go. He sleeps in my bag and can wander around on the leash if he wants too," she said.
"He doesn’t run away - he knows he’s got it good!
"We went to the Smoky Mountains recently and climbed a mountain together. He was SO impressed by the mountains!"
Doug lives with Sarah’s other pet, an eight-year-old cat named Tulip, with whom he has a brother/sister relationship.
"She's shy, so their relationship is mostly Doug chasing her around the house. She's really tolerant and they never fight - but she'll give him a swat when she has to!," she said.
Although Doug is technically a wild animal, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) states that residents don’t need a permit to possess a prairie dog as a pet.
Sarah said that domesticated prairie dogs have double the life expectancy of wild ones, which are subject to hunting, habitat destruction, predator animals and many more dangers.
She said: "I would like people to know that Doug's life is better than it would have been in the wild. He enjoys life - he gets lots of love and attention."
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