I qualified with B Ed as a Primary School Teacher in 1999 and my qualifying gift, from my then husband, was a mad Springer Spaniel called Gilly.
She loved a ball, followed us everywhere and did not need ‘training’. She was my baby and got me through losing my own son in 2004.
Around that time, in my career, I was moved into Early Years. Stuck in my grief, but having a strong need to please others that I did not recognise then. I believed I would hate it because they were babies, and snotty, and had nappies, and worse than that they were needy! But, I loved it! That early formative years inspired me to be more nurturing, gentler and more understanding. I did not know then that my natural character had come to the fore, not the one I had to be everyday.
I continued my work in early years, but the more I learnt and experienced about early development the less I liked about the education system. The expectations placed on ‘the readyness’ of such young children for school, academia and growing up left me so uneasy. I instinctually knew the value of early development but ‘I didn’t know what I didn’t know’. This is a term I have come to use regularly in all areas of my life with acceptance and forgiveness.
I had many life changing experience in a short space of time, including life threatening skin cancer, and then came ‘the puppy farmed bonded pair’ of Border Collies; Brynn and Birdie.
My life turned upside down. They were reactive almost immediately and along with the male having a life threatening mass within the first three weeks of coming to live with me it all highlighted that there was also a problem in my marriage.
Ignoring my own needs, as is my trauma, I sought help for Brynn and Birdie from a local trainer. Immersing myself in ‘rescuing’ my new babies enabled me to hide from my ‘stuff’. I now know that the learning will keep coming around if I have not learnt what I needed from it. The ‘teacher’ in me, ever evident, I trained as a dog trainer. This is where I met Georgia, on an evening where we had to swap our dogs to experience a different breed, she had my wispy highly strung, snarly Border Collie girl, Birdie, and I had her giant reactive Mastiff boy, Diesel!
This was another pivotal point in my life: Georgia and I bonded over our need to know that there was a better way to help our dogs. We trained and studied together in the world of wolves. I began to see my reactive difficult pair in a whole new light and strengthened my friendship with Georgia as we journeyed in our own trauma led lives, but found innerstanding for the fur babies we loved and lived with.
In 2017 I began my psychodynamic therapy journey and I started to develop a better innerstanding of myself and listen to my own wants and needs. In 2018 after a 32 year marriage, I knew I had to walk away to rescue me.
I returned to teaching and saw everything I had seen before but with more knowledge and innerstanding through my own therapy. I studied neuroscience, learnt about ‘ACEs’ and added this to my teaching, both of children and dogs.
My journey continues, alongside my lovely friend Georgia, who has taught me, given me, shown me and shared so much with me. We have complemented each other and been able to practice what we needed for our own next steps in our journey with patience and forgiveness and our own ‘innerstanding’ (she will not mind me using her own coined phrase ☺).
My reactive pair have been my learning journey and bringing balance and healing to them has been a gift. Both are now schooling dogs for the Inner Wild, although I am continuously balancing them due to the needs of their individual characters.
My path continues as I further develop my study of neuroscience and early child development, along with level 3 Forest School Leader training, with paediatric and outdoor trained First Aid. Just like the plasticity of the brain, new research is always showing there is more to do and better ways to heal. Every day is a new learning experience (you only know what you know) and I accept it with grace, rather than try to see how I can fix it or rescue it to my own detriment.