The last months have been challenging here. Not only due to Grace being so scared of the world and the amount of work we have been doing, but for other reasons. Regular readers will know that when Chandi was alive, I talked about selling our house and taking her on an adventure. I did indeed put our house up for sale and two weeks after Chandi left my side, it sold. I couldn’t proceed with the sale; I was barely alive.
As Grace slowly anchored me back to the earth and breathed new life into me, the desire to be different – to do something different – returned with a vengeance. Sick and tired of paying out hard-earned money to live in a house that was bigger than we needed also spurred me on. I put our house back up for sale and sold it again, within days.
This will be my third move since my Mum died, and things have to be different this time. Feeling as though I was suffocating with all the stuff that was crammed in the loft and the garage – the vast majority of which didn’t even belong to me – it was definitely time to make huge changes.
This past year I have spent almost every weekend sorting through all the boxes that I have dutifully carted round (or rather paid removal men to cart round on my behalf) and have made many trips to two charity shops in Church Stretton – Border collie Rescue and Hope House Children’s Hospice. The council recycling centre has been on the receiving end of a fair few car loads of stuff that was cluttering both my house and my mind.
I struggle to see the point in paying for more than I need, particularly when running my own business is extremely precarious these days. I am daring to be different and to go against ‘the norm’. The customary way of measuring success – big house, flash car, nice clothes, expensive holidays, the latest gadgets… leaves me wondering why… If this is how success is measured, then I am unsuccessful. Maybe there is a different way. I find there is and that I am not alone in striving to achieve it. Less is more. More time to play with Grace, more time to breathe, more time to allow magic into my life…Surrounded by less stuff I already feel freer. We have only what we need and I swear I will never buy anything I don’t need ever again.
We move to a tiny ‘two up, two down’ in a little village in January and it will be a new start for us both. With only the things we love and need surrounding us, who knows what we will achieve. Maybe I will finally respond to the multitude of requests I’ve received over the years to try my hand at running a Freestyle training course… who knows what the future may hold. Or maybe I can create my own future.
When I brought Grace home, I only wanted to achieve two things with her – a fantastic recall and to be worthy of being loved. There was no pressure on either her or me to do anything, other than fall in love with each other. I didn’t know whether this would be possible. Chandi was my ‘dog of a lifetime’ and together we achieved things that I would never have dared dream – our years together were a fairy tale. To be loved and adored and to return her adoration, was the foundation on which everything else was built. She was remarkable in every way and her record setting achievements (still unequaled) meant that my cake was well and truly iced.
I found myself giving every bit of credit to her and taking none for myself. As Chandi got older, I savoured even more our time together and told myself that when she was finally gone, that would be it for me. Chandi made me special. Never again would my steps be in time with another dog as they had been with her – even when we did our special One Tempi (skipping). I was resigned to it and made my peace with it.
Grace didn’t have anything to live up to – I expected nothing and didn’t think I would be able to teach her anything much simply because I believed that my part in Chandi’s success was so insignificant. Watching little Gracie grow and learn made me think. Really made me think. I was glad I made the effort to video all those early training sessions as the evidence of how she responded not only to me, but also to my non-conformist training methods, could be studied repeatedly.
Slowly I started to wonder if I had indeed had something to do with Chandi’s phenomenal success (and Pepper’s achievements). My attitude to trying to teach Grace to skip was this: not going to be able to, but might as well just prove I can’t by having a go.
Within five days of showing Grace what she needed to do to perform the skipping move, she was doing it. Thankfully the video evidence was undeniable as I didn’t really believe my own eyes during our training sessions. Grace was 14 weeks old and I felt foolish. The realization hit me that I might just be quite good at working with a dog. No-one was more surprised than me. Chandi was my dog of a lifetime – a dog in a million – my love, life and everything – but Grace is too. It can’t just be down to luck – seriously after all the bad luck I’ve had thrown at me these last few years (and especially these last few months) I feel as though my luck has run out! It has to be magic. The combination of me and Chandi, me and Pepper, me and Grace and endless work and dedication creating magic.
But, there is no pressure on Grace or me to ever show ourselves in public. But, I can feel the flutters of the fragile wings of a dream stirring. Thank you Gracie for giving me new life, and above all, for loving me. I didn’t think I would ever be loved again when Chandi’s and my music finished playing for the final time. When I look at Grace, I see Chandi. Heaven sent.
Thank you Chandi for making my dream come true – to be loved – and to Grace for continuing when Chandi left. And thank you both for helping me to start believing in myself.
“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.