‘Love at first sight!’ Rescue dog puts smile back on woman’s face after accident

When dog-mad Niki French quit a hectic globetrotting job she also gave up a six-figure salary. But she finally had the chance to realise her lifelong dream of owning a dog.

“I’ve always been dog-mad and had one as a child, but for many years owning one was simply impossible: my working life was just too busy, and it wouldn’t have been fair.

“So the moment I quit my job and knew I had more time and flexibility in my life, getting a dog was my priority,” says Niki, who swapped her 30-year corporate career for a less stressful life as a dog trainer after a bike accident left her with health issues.

She endured the memory problems, shoulder pain and low energy levels for more than four years before finally deciding to quit in 2019.

And one of the very first things she did was to become a dog owner.

“In March 2019 I walked out of my office for the last time, and soon after I registered with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, in order to rehome a rescue dog.

“I knew there were so many dogs who needed a loving home, and it felt like the right choice for me,” explains Niki, 53.

Not long after, Battersea contacted Niki with a photo of an eight-month-old lurcher-collie cross called Bodie.

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“It was love at first sight. I knew Bodie was the one. It felt like a dream come true.

“Two days later, he come home to live with me, as I had already been through an intensive assessment and interview process to ensure I was suitable to rehome a dog.”

As well as a fresh start with Bodie, Niki was seeking a new role that was worlds away from her frenetic sales and marketing career in the property industry.

'I have such a deep bond with Bodie and he has brought so much joy to my life' – Niki French

Niki, who lives in Twickenham with her 52-year-old partner Chris, admits: “After 30 years in one industry, I knew I needed to find another career that would be gentler on my physical and mental health.”

The lightbulb moment happened when a friend of a friend mentioned she was planning to become a dog trainer.

“Her comment planted a seed in my mind and the more I researched dog training online, the more I was sure this was my new career.”

So Niki launched her professional dog training business and, now aged three, energetic, clever and excitable Bodie plays an important role in her work.

“As a dog owner myself, I can relate to my clients and the challenges they are facing, and I understand the deep bond they have with their animal – because I feel exactly the same way about Bodie.

“He loves taking part in demonstrations and appearing in videos I make. As soon as I get the camera tripod out, he sits in front of it ready to work!

“He loves to play games, but one of our favourite things to do is sit in the shade at our local park and watch the world go by together.

“After so many years of dreaming of having a dog, I still have to pinch myself that he is mine. Bodie has brought so much joy into my life.”

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