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June 4, 2016

Millie: How A Dog Can Change Your Life


Millie in the Lake District, June 2014



They say having a dog can change your life and when the picture above popped up on my Facebook memories feed this morning, I couldn’t help reflect on how naturally pet owners bonded over my two days attending the 2016 Content Marketing Academy Conference this week.

Whilst I’ve come away with lots of ideas and made a very large personal commitment (covered on my blog yesterday), the power and bond we have with our pets shone through the 2-day event as conversations turned to our four-legged family members (and they even dominated a few slides too!).

From exchanging tweets with Amy Schmittauer about her dog Lucy before the conference, sharing dog toy destruction stories with Kate McQuillan from Pet Sitters Ireland, discussing Greyfriar Bobby with the gorgeous Sarah and Amy the evening before, talking dog pants with the stunning Fiona Esposito from TeaBreakTog right through to Mark Schaefer’s closing keynote speech which was heavily scattered with cat selfies – there was an immediate mutual bond between pet owners due to our love for them.


A Mutual Rescue – Eric and Peety

The quality of all speakers was so high but the highlight of the two days for me was Ann Handley’s keynote speech which kicked off Day 2.    Witty and funny whilst being clear on message, I scribbled pages of notes and quickly purchased her new book for signing.

One of the examples she shared to emphasise the importance of being bolder with sharing your own story is one of my own favourite videos from The Humane Society.

The Humane Society had requested video submissions on stories about shelter animals and owners changing each other’s lives and Eric and Peety were one of those submissions to launch the Mutual Rescue project.

Their story is powerful as in 2010, Eric weighed 340 pounds, had high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. He’d been told he’d be dead in five years if things didn’t change.  Having had a suggestion from his nutritionist to adopt a dog, off he went to the shelter and that was when Peety, came into his life.  Their story of losing weight together and changing their lives is beautifully captured in the video below.   I can’t watch it without reaching for the tissues – be prepared!


Our Story – Vicky and Millie

Those who know me may have been a little surprised when in January 2014, on a trip back home to Scotland, I made the decision to get a dog.  Not any dog, of course, the most energetic, demanding type of dog:  an English Springer Spaniel.  Having helped my mum pick out their new puppy from a litter, Harley, it felt like the right time to finally given into my desire to have four paws in my own little family!    I’d been very close to getting a dog around 4 years before but due to one reason or another with work commitments, this had been put on a back burner.  Now in a relationship and having a more flexible job, it felt like the right time.

When I made the trip back to Scotland five weeks to collect her, despite having had both cats and dogs whilst growing up, I had no idea of the impact that she would have to me on an emotional level.

I could tell you a number of stories of the highs and lows during the time I’ve had Millie but more recently and nearly 18 months later from the day she came home with us, on December 29th, 2015, Millie and I moved into our new home in Wokingham, some 50 miles away from Essex.    As I closed the door on my home in Essex, my first every house purchase, I was also closing the door on a relationship too, one that whilst I’d been unhappy with for some time, had hoped would make the fresh start needed with the move.

I was at my biggest weight ever, had started a new job with my confidence low.  I was therefore about to start 2016 on a low, selling my first home and with two beautiful beach huts that I’d poured hours of love into and could no longer hire out due to a license change from the private development owners and no sign of a sale.   Oh, and of course it was winter – nothing quite like less daylight to help with your mood.

I spent the next few days sorting out my own head out and the reality of the changes as the New Year approached.   It really would have been easy for me to have unpacked the bedding and PJs and crawled under a duvet until I had to surface for work.  But if you know springer spaniels, that just wasn’t going to happen!!   I had Millie – this loyal, loving dog who whilst seemed to understand that I was feeling low, staying close for sofa cuddles but who also needed playtime and exercise!

She’s given me a reason to get up, get dressed and out in the fresh air for long walks on days I’ve not been at work and I’ve found myself spending the weekends exploring our new world around Wokingham.  She became an ear to listen to me going on about my day and someone who was always happy to have me home at the end of a day.    She has been constantly by my side and even when I get up to get a cup of tea or something from another room, she is there, trotting at my heels, checking on what I’m doing and how she can be part of that.

Before I had Millie, I would have normally sunk myself into work and avoided dealing with everything that had gone on.  She made it impossible for me to do so with her demands to be walked, fed and her paly time!  She relies on me and loves me wholly and completely and even puts up with watching reruns of House.  In a small way her love of the beach helped me stick out the difficulties around the beach huts too and kept us going back, resulting in two new beach huts this year.

It does sound stupid but I don’t actually feel single…and often forget that I’m an “I”, rather than a “we”….  I have Millie.

Gradually as the weeks have gone by, she’s also introduced me to the most amazing group of new friends through discovering Canicross which you may remember from an earlier blog. I’ve lost over a stone and a half through our walks and Canicross sessions and I’ve felt myself returning to being ‘me’.   That embarrassing feeling of telling those who know me about my relationship failing has slowly lifted as I’ve become more confident that this was the right thing for me and I have Kev Anderson in particular to thank for inspiring me to be much more open in my writing and sharing this with you all!

So for the second day in a row, I’m saying a huge THANK YOU again but this time to my best friend Millie.   Thank you for saving me over and over again – you’ll never quite know the change that you’ve inspired.

Thank you for everything over the last two years and I can’t wait to see where our #MilliesAdventures take us next!



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  1. Bravo Vicky! It’s only June…. With your natural inner strength and Millie by your side you are going to see the year out so differently to how it began. Keep your shades on – future is so darn bright!

  2. Beautifully written! I can relate to a lit that you say. I’ve got an ESS called Rowan whom I love dearly. They’re a beautiful breed and likewise we do canicross which gives me the confidence to run outside which I hadn’t done in 15 years. Also, I was at TCMA 2016 and loved it too – very emotional and inspiring. Keep up the great work and wishing you all the best! Suzanne x

    1. Huge thanks, Suzanne… and sorry we didn’t get to meet at TCMA2016! I feel like I met so many people but at the same time only scratched the surface of attendees. So good to know I’m not the only one on the Canicross journey.. hard work but the scenery and benefit is amazing! Good luck with it and hope to catch up soon.. before TCMA2017? xx

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