Three questions....

So pleased we finished our book tour and arrived back home safely.
Just thinking that if we were due to head off this week it would all be cancelled?
Still not sunk in we reached number 3 in the Sunday Times Best Sellers list today. One day reality will kick in, till then life as normal, wet dogs, dog hairs and dog breath.

Wouldn't change it for the world.

Just want to say a massive thank you to the team at Harper Collins for putting up with me. Not easy! Also to the staff at the incredibly dog friendly George Hotel & Arlington in Norwich, in particular Alistair for being a diamond and serving the boys the beef dinner, Zoe the chef and the receptionist ( I'm sorry I cant remember your name!). They made an emotional day very relaxing.

So the tour! The three most popular questions asked:

  1. How do you get the dogs to sit? (Easy I just ask them)
  2. What Camera do you use? (Canon and iPhone)
  3. Why did you write a book? Well that deserves a longer answer
Most of you will know that Max helped me recover and got me back outdoors after a road traffic accident. We meet hundreds of people and some of them tell us how Max also helped them, which in it's self is quite remarkable.

Sometimes we meet that special someone who has a major story to tell. In writing a book I wanted to show the power of Max (and also Paddy in this instance) a book called Max the Miracle Dog to try and explain just what these boys mean to so many people.  

This story below was written by one truly incredible lady who wanted to share her experience with you and sadly no longer with us. This is why I changed my life and work ethic, bought the woofsporter and get away whenever possible. Because I had the chance to meet the bravest lady I changed my stars

This is Diane's story:

A Date With The Boys

For me, it all started in June 2016, suffering from severe stomach cramps I was rushed to A & E.   A large tumour was found and following surgery I had 2 thirds of my bowel removed.   I spent the summer recuperating.   September, I got the diagnosis...the big C. Paul (my husband) and I had a brief tear....we had had conversations of this possibly being the case, it's just the feeling you get but don't want to acknowledge until you've actually been told face to face by a qualified person. Within 15 minutes we were meeting my Oncologist being bombarded with facts and info ...and feeling overwhelmed by it all. Within the week I was started on an intense course of chemotherapy.   It took its toll on my health as was expected.

Life for me became frustrating, having been a very active  and outdoors person and someone who has never been ill in adulthood, apart from the normal seasonal ailments  and you can't count having 3 girls as ailments!   Having a full time job at a primary school,  loving to potter in the garden and Paul and  I  keen walkers and still are (although he now takes himself off on his own...a way of clearing his thoughts of what lies ahead).  I was missing the freedom of having the energy to do things myself and  to rely on others.   Having to give up work..a job I'd done for 16 years was the hardest.   I was missing the purpose of a daily routine, the social interaction of work and the enjoyment the kids I'd got to know and work with (they've just taken their SATS this week).

December 2016, I finished the chemo...scan results showed that the cancer had shrunk...yippee and I had a few months off chemo for good behaviour!     March 2017, I developed a cough...a nagging persistent cough..the kind of cough us women who have been through childbirth can all relate to, the cough and wee syndrome..... embarrassing or what!    Endless trips to the Docs, trying umpteen cough remedies over the next two months proved fruitless. I was exhausted, the sheer lack of sleep took its toll on my body. The intensity of the cough and now chest pains (pneumonia), topped with shingles, I was admitted to hospital.   I was back to square one...laid out flat.   The next scan revealed that the Cancer had now spread to other organs and was terminal.   Chemo resumed once more.

Don't get me wrong, it's not always been doom and gloom...far from it.   We have developed a positive attitude along with death related humour and frankness about the situation and the future. All relevant documentation is all in place (to ease the transition on the family) and a sense of embracing time ahead full on has settled with me. We've talked about him (Paul) moving on and getting a dog to go walks with when I'm keep him active and most importantly, the comfort and company they bring...I'm going to pester him about that one.

I know I have told you everything about my health and hope I haven't bored you, but it is the background to how I came to meet the 'boys' that everyone loves.

It was back in January/February 2017, to this day I can't quite recall how I stumbled across Max, whether it was through reading an article in a magazine or on Facebook. Anyway, once on FB...there he was!  It was the glint in his eyes, his lively tail and the most atmospheric photograph I'd seen of the Lakes that caught me.  I pressed the LIKE button and  was hooked.   I was finding that each day I was waiting with anticipation for an update, the latest antics Max was getting up to and what the setting would be, wishing I could be there walking beside him in the beautiful surroundings. Then Max became a double act with Paddy, it was the best medicine anyone could wish for.   My days were being enlightened  with the vision of innocence,  of two dogs enjoying life to the full along with their proud devoted owner. Watching the craftsmanship of jetty leaps...well in my head I had my towel and swimsuit at the ready to join them!  The ever joyous site of bodies on springs leaping through the glorious bracken and the catching of snowballs!

 I was giving Paul and my girls updates of what the boys were up to and they began to think I was!

We arrive at April 2018....approaching Easter. Paul and I were on a break to Great Strictland, outside of Penrith.   We arrived on the Saturday.   That evening Paul told me we had to be up early the next morning, get to Keswick by 10 . I thought we were going to catch a bus or something as we'd planned to do so during our time there.   We arrived in Keswick and turned off the main road and headed up a lane.   I started to worry when I saw signs for Rock Climbing ...what was he taking me to!   We pulled up at Castlerigg Stone Circle, a place in the Lakes I'd never been to before. It was a beautiful heaven!   My car door opened, but not by me,  a man stood there.   ' Is it Diane by any chance!' I was lost for words as I hadn't a clue who he was. 'I have two boys who want to meet you' the penny was Kerry their never see him as he's always at the other end of the lens!     I was overwhelmed.....Paul gave me a note from Kim one of our read....'Mum we know you haven't a bucket list as you've always said you don't need one as your bucket is filled with all your life experiences.   Well, as you are a huge fan of Max and Paddy we have arranged for you to meet them.'   Blubber...blubber, I couldn't hold back the tears....Regaining my composure I then got out of the car and there they heroes, tails wagging profusely and huge heart melted there and then...I was in love!

We crossed the road and ventured the short distance to the stone circle.   How magical it was.. a scene out of The Hobbit, without the characters....the serenity of the hills, the light of the sun streaming through the fragments of clouds and the calming of the Stones.   I'd never felt so happy and contented as of that moment in time. Everything else happening in my life just left if I'd stepped through a parallel portal to another world. Never having owned dogs in my life, it felt that these two were mine.

Meeting Kerry and learning of his courageous battle to rebuild his life with the help of Max, his saviour and of course the addition of Paddy, was such a heartwarming moment. Both Paul and I will treasure our meeting with 'The Gang' and the affect it had on us, to carry on and fulfill every moment we have together with positivity and laughter.   I'm going to keep on following them hoping for more laugh out loud moments, the flapometers, the swimming lessons and sausage snacks...Life is too short to sulk and feel sorry for one's self....that's not me....the boys make me feel free!

To top it all, I came away with Max and Paddy's Pawtograph's on my walking shoes!

I hope that, if and when, any grand kids come along, Paul will tell them the story of when Gran met her 'Boys' at the Stones.

Diane Nightingale        

May 2018

And that's why I wrote my story because People like Diane give us courage.