Sophi's Blog

Just be dog

My apologies to you all, its been nearly six months since my last blog. It would be easy to come up with any number of excuses; too busy, grieving, trying to keep busy, sorting all the bits for probate but the truth is I just couldn’t write anything. The ideas are all in my head but I just haven’t been able to get them from there to here. And despite thinking that if I just kept going day to day, getting on with work, walking the dogs and sorting out the house, life would be okay. But it wasn’t. I got bored, restless and bored again.

My late husband once described me as a cross between a German Shepherd and a Jack Russell. I know my nose fits the brief but he said it was because I was intensely loyal with an inability to sit still for five minutes. Keeping myself occupied with the same routine every day wasn’t helping so I needed a new challenge, something I hadn’t done before and nothing to do with work. I took ballroom dancing lessons and loved it. I met new people, traumatised my body and learnt (sort of) an entirely new skill. Breaking the cycle sometimes takes more than just changing a routine, trying something totally different challenges the mind and body as well as giving your social life a boost. And just as it has done for me, I have done the same for my dogs. Well some of them, its hard finding individual hobbies for ten! Going ‘off piste’ can be great fun for dog and owner. Yes, going to a different park or having a day in the countryside is a huge boost for mental and physical health but what about doing something totally different? Most training centres have trial days for canine activities from agility to scent training to heelwork to music (ballroom dancing with your dog!). One of my clients recently took her dog to a ‘Doga’ session, yoga with pooches. It’s not something Arry and I would do, his ideas on meditation are not the same as mine. However, my client (and her very small dog) loved it so much, they signed up for a whole course. I look forward to seeing Fizz’s downward dog. Most dogs love to experience new things, no matter what their age. We have all heard the saying “dogs live in the moment” and yet we as owners spend so much of our lives living in the past and worrying about the future. This we cannot always change but taking time just to ‘be dog’ must be good for our mental state too?

I’m in France at the moment, spending time at the family property which sadly got badly flooded recently. I’ve got Arry and Alice with me so they think 8 acres of tree felled land and a suddenly widened river bank is the greatest experience ever. Climbing logs, chasing each other and my parents’ dogs through the constant maze of changed woodland is never ending enrichment for them. And for me, for the first time in many months, I’m learning to live in the moment. I may not have conquered log climbing yet, but I’m learning to just ‘be dog’.

Nicky Shaw