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Welcome 2024....nearly.

Reflecting on 2023 and thinking about things to come

Its New Years Eve!

Writing this has its challenges!

Every year I try and reflect back on the year and think about what I have learned and hope some of the things I share may inspire you.  I won’t lie, I’ve struggled with writing something this year. It's been a tough one.  There has been a lot of learning and discovery, and just as much heartbreak. But that’s the circle of life isn’t it, the highs, the lows and the in between. I have given brief updates on my medical dogs towards the end as I know you like to know how they're doing.

I have thrown myself in the deep end this year, not realising that I had found ways around challenges I had until now.  That's been a revelation and a journey I wasn't expecting to start!

I always knew I was marmite.  A little (ha) different, so that ADHD label was not a surprise.  The issues with math's, and the Dyscalculia diagnosis was pretty much a given.  The big surprise was the huge issues I have, and didn’t even know I had with reading comprehension.  Bottom 10th percentile issues! That’s not a small issue, that’s pretty significant! 

But, here’s the conundrum.  The diagnosis gives me a label, not an excuse.  It gives me better understanding of my needs and why certain things really really challenge me. I really hope I learn the skills to navigate them. I really could have done with them when I was younger though. Life would have been a bit easier - emotionally and academically! I really hope these labels help make things easier going forwards, there is power in a name!

Here's the joke however, and I really hope you get my point (rather than see it as a 'look how wonderful I am' statement!' Hopefully you know me better than that! Despite these challenges I found a way!

I had to do a post-graduate course (level 7) in Research methods (statistics) to be accepted onto the MSc Clinical Animal Behaviour degree at Lincoln and yes I tried absolutely everything to get around that one.  The sheer sense of panic at having to do anything mathematical almost had me quitting I won’t lie. But I got a merit in it!

The reading comprehension, well, that certainly explains why reading academic stuff doesn’t stay in my head.  I read the words yes, but I don’t even take in what is being said.  I adapted as I got older and found ways to help make it stick without even realising I had an issue.....English was my strongest I thought! Anyway I got a 2.1 in my Law Degree.  Not bad for bottom 10th percentile huh!

And the ADHD. Well, that's developing, I suppose the superpower of super focus is what has helped me. What amazes me though, when I shared this diagnosis is the number of people in my social circle (which is exceptionally small btw) are similar! People who have similar stories, similar challenges, and similar successes.  People from a huge range of professions who had also adapted and that I count as friends.  And some, who are now looking at getting an assessment as my story rings true with them.  This label is probably my biggest challenge, well, elements of it anyway. Its why I did the assessment in the first place as I needed additional support because I am way out of my comfort zone with brick built uni.  And I won’t lie, I am struggling with elements of it.  Not the academic side bizarrely, but the peopling. The peopling is really hard!

What has amazed me, is the number of professionals working with dogs, who are neurodiverse. We are a passionate, creative and sometimes a bit crazy bunch.  But our crazy seems to work well with dogs.  Is it because we understand the challenges the dogs face at a deeper level? Is it because we see the grey areas around the black and white? Is it because we are highly observant? Or is it because dogs don’t challenge our weaknesses and enhance our strengths?  I don’t know, but I am curious…..maybe a research paper in that! I am new to this path, and I am grateful to having such a wonderful community of peers who have shared their experiences. I am very thankful and humbled by your support.

I have adapted. I am not super brainy. I am definitely not an academic in the traditional sense. I don't spend every hour studying either (how can I with all the dogs to care for? Oh and the child- I have to mum too). Yep, I won't lie, its been....lets call it challenging.....but despite these learning issues I faced it and I succeeded. We can absolutely do it, even when everything says we can't! I'm proof of that!

2024 is a big year, I have plans to sneak in an intense course in the summer but my focus is going to be on my MSc, I worked hard to get to a level to be able to do it, I am not going to let anything distract me from doing my best.  It is challenging me in ways I didn’t expect admittedly, but 3 months in, it has already helped me grow. I hope it continues to. (I really hope I don't drive my lecturers mad in the process - apologies in advance!)

New Years Resolutions?

I don’t have New Years resolutions. I’ve always found it’s a way to guilt trip myself that I haven’t met those expectations that I set. Why start the year off criticising myself? Why do you?   What I do try to do is set myself goals throughout the year.  These goals surround my desire to be better, to learn, to answer questions that whizz around my head.  These goals surround my desire to help owners and dogs have full and happy lives together.  I just want to be better!

A prayer for all those affected by the changes in the DDA.

2024 and beyond will be tinged with sadness as huge numbers of owners and dogs face awful restrictions, and far worse, and I will be thinking of all involved. I really pray this judicial review finds the governments unlawful. 

How does this affect us?

Whilst you may not think this affects you, and you may feel some relief if you’ve had a bad experience, let me remind you that any of us could be targeted next.  They can just suddenly change the rules on dog ownership.  We get away with a lot because our dogs are small, but we really need to pay attention to our responsibilities as owners. They may be small, but they still have the same number of teeth!  If your dog was bigger would you do the same? Would you allow the same?  Why not? Maybe this year its time to address those issues, change it before it becomes a deeply ingrained issue?  We should all be paying attention. Rescues are turning dogs away, rehoming is often not an option anymore. It is our responsibility to make changes for the better. Don't stick your heads in the sand! Do something NOW!

 Remember the Dangerous Dogs Act covers all dogs! It is not just about injury. It does not just apply to public property! And I'm pretty confident there will be a focus on all dogs going forwards, not just those named as "banned." We need to pay attention and make changes.

So many of us are thinking of all those beautiful dogs, responsible families, rescues and vets who are facing such an awful time right now.  I am thinking of you all and doing what I can to show my support.

My challenge to you for 2024

Moving into 2024 I want you to reassess things, don’t give yourself a hard time.  Don’t try to change who you are.  But set yourself small goals to be better.  We can all be better. But, remember, we are all human.  Its ok to make mistakes.  Its ok to hide under the duvet (or a dachshund or 2) when you don’t want to adult.  Mistakes are part of growth and learning.  I make them all the time.  But learn from them and grow. Be kind to yourselves. Believe in yourselves. Make time for yourselves and your dachshunds!

I am not going on my phone!

I love you too Kami.
I can jump our of a plane despite not liking heights or small planes!

My challenge to me? Like I don't have enough to do!

I’d like to say I will be rolling out apps and all things technically wonderful.  But that would be a lie.  Call me old, but I just find them impersonal.  I recently had a paddy about my son’s school treating him like a number, I am not going to do that to you!  I try to keep it real and in all the courses I offer, I try to give the best parts of me. I like to think that’s what makes things work.  It’s a team effort, I enjoy working WITH you to find solutions.  Just following a step by step on an app doesn’t allow that ability to work to your needs. And, as you have seen, we are all different.

I will and have already started trying to offer short one off sessions to get the "bare bones" of things to those of you who can't commit to a course, or who just want or need a guideline to see you through for now. (They are currently listed to book now).

We are all different! So are they!

All my dogs have different needs and abilities.  Some are quite happy being couch potatoes, others need far more.  Some like snuggling up with each other, others tolerate it but prefer their own space. They’re just like us. They are all individuals.  Which means we need to be flexible.

Popi loves to go shopping.

Remember that going forwards.  You are individual. Your dog is an individual.  Don’t compare yourself or them to someone else.  We all have different needs. Work to your strengths, and adapt, don’t avoid your weaknesses.  Keep growing and developing.  You can only be you, but the best version of you.  The same for your dogs.  You have the power to help them be their best.

If you've read to the end, thank you. I am so incredibly grateful to everyone for their support. I am so grateful to those of you I have worked with, and I am incredibly proud of the hardwork you have put in to make positive changes to your relationships with your dachshunds. I can guide you and support you, but if you hadn't put things into action progress wouldn't happen. So take your wins and smile knowing YOU DID THAT! I look forward to continuing to receive updates as you progress forwards.

Wishing you all a wonderful New Year.  I hope this year is a journey of growth, love and self discovery.  Take a leap and push yourself to take steps to reaching your dreams.  Don’t make excuses, don’t avoid, adapt and learn.

Medical warrior updates for 2023

Popi - Sadly this year received a diagnosis of lung fibrosis on top of everything else. This is going to worsen over time and supportive treatments haven't been effective. We are currently treating pneumonia again and she is holding steady at the minute. She is living the best life and loves her cuddles. Her Separation Anxiety is mostly sorted which is a huge win as stress has a massive impact on her breathing, other elements are managed. We know we haven't got long, but will give a lifetime of love in the time she has with us.

Kami- Still a fruitloop but amazingly still adapting. She's learning new skills almost daily. She's missing the sunshine, but is loving the Christmas mess. She is very unhelpful as we try to pack things away but it gives us so much joy to see how happy she is with a stack of paper and cardboard boxes. She absolutely adores Kieron and my dad and charges over to them for cuddles at every opportunity.

Fudge - continues to be Fudge. He has regained continence mostly (not bad after 4 years of paralysis) and has definately got feeling in his feet. He is moving his legs, but foot placement is holding him back. He loves to snuggle in my arms at bedtime and doesn't move all night. And, after 2 years I can finally clean his ears without losing a finger, and he seems to enjoy it too!

Suki - You may remember she had Grade 5 IVDD in November 2022. She has made a full recovery and is back to being Kieron's little hot water bottle.

Chelly - Doesn't really warrant being on this list anymore. She still has a wobble but otherwise her "will never walk" prognosis and certainly "won't regain continence" see's her giving all her doubters the four paw salute. Remember what I said about challenges....she is the ambassador for "don't tell me I can't!"

Photo Memories from 2023

Maybe another awesome holiday is my resolution?

Definately need more time with my bestie!

Baby Zella

King Spesh's last Christmas

Chelly posing for a rare picture

Piper and Zella snuggled up tight

Zella learning new skills

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