Every October our “faux” fox hunting club (disclaimer…no animals are harmed) heads over to Prince Edward Island, with horses and hounds, for a weekend of scenic riding. In past years, when I had my city job, the weekend was always on the heels of a conference I would attend in Toronto. In order to make it to the first hunt of the weekend, I would fly directly into PEI from Toronto and have Sean, my husband, meet me on the island with my horse. Friends would jokingly comment on how my “staff” would deliver my horse to PEI while I took an airport limo to the farm where my horse was being stabled.
This year would be a different scene. With my new career as a dog hiker, there would be no trains, planes or limos in my near future, just a passenger seat in in the Silverado with horses and Charlie Dog in tow.
About the same time this weekend was approaching, I began to question my decision to leave behind a comfortable pay cheque, and doubts about my new canine business venture started to surface. I still only had my two original clients from when I launched Muddy Paws Adventures three weeks prior and despite all the advertising, PR, and networking, I had not received a single call for a new client. I started to feel a constriction in my chest as I continued to doubt my decision to walk away from a successful career. It was far from the peace of mind I had hoped to establish with this lifestyle change.
After two weeks of self-doubt rearing its ugly head on a daily basis, I called my friend and mentor, Stephanie Allen from Gateway Development. Stephanie had been guiding me along my transition for some time and she was my voice of reason.
During our call a few light bulbs went off, like when she described a business being much like a garden. That it takes time grow. That in its infancy it is vulnerable and must be protected, but eventually it will become more hearty. Patience not being part of my genetic make-up, my own summer garden started with almost full-sized plants purchased from the Superstore.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy Muddy Paws clients at the grocery store, so I was going to have to take a whole new approach. I was going to have to be patient and focus on all I had to be grateful for. I was going to do what I needed to do to protect Muddy Paws and then I was going to just let it grow.
And what do you know….as soon as I stepped away from the self-doubt and focused on all the good stuff in my life, the phone started ringing. In fact, I hit my goal of attaining five Muddy Paws clients six weeks ahead of schedule. Pepper, an energetic and very happy Lab; Beau an athletic and kind-hearted Standard Poodle; and Darby, a gentle and caring German Shepherd have joined the golden girls, Nellie and Rylee, as Muddy Paws’ clients. These five incredible dogs now share the heart and soul of Muddy Paws Adventures with Charlie Dog.
I would be lying if I said self-doubt still didn’t surface occasionally. But now I know it serves no value to me. I can brush off thoughts of self-doubt and instead focus on what I have to be grateful for. I remember to enjoy the extra time and energy created by eliminating daily commutes to the city and the grind of 9 to 5. There may be no limos in my near future, but I think leashes have always been more my speed anyway.
For more dog stories and the lessons I’ve learned from them, check out the November-December issue of Paws For Balance. Paws For Balance – November, December