I have just finished reading Chandi: The Rescue Dog Who Stole a Nation’s Heart by Tina Humphrey. Chandi is the story of Humphrey’s rescue dog who she trained for Heelwork to Music. Published in 2012, the book opens when Humphrey meets her first dog, Pepper, in 1994. Chandi is adopted from a shelter in 1998 and, for a time, Humphrey trains and competes with both dogs in Heelwork to Music and Freestyle competitions.
Tina, who teaches piano and violin, has a natural ear for music and is able to choreograph routines for her dogs that emphasize the stories behind the music.
Chandi is a love story. It is about the bond that Tina shares with both of her dogs and the devotion she has for both of them. She is an advocate for a raw diet and natural health care (no wonder I was attracted to the book), in part inspired by her mother who fought cancer for many years using natural therapies. (Part of the book tells the story of how Tina suffers the loss of both of her parents, at separate times, with her dogs there as emotional support).
We also share in Tina’s heartache when, in 2007, she and Chandi suffer the loss of Pepper. Anyone who has had to say goodbye to their beloved dog understands Tina’s pain when it is time for Pepper to be put to sleep.
Chandi and Tina win many competitions in their years together including several trophies at Crufts. In 2010, after almost 12 years of competing and sharing their lives, they audition for Britain’s Got Talent and go all the way to the finals, ultimately finishing in fourth place. By then, they are celebrities and enjoy a nationwide tour of the show’s finalists plus other interviews and promotions. And that’s where the book finishes…on a high note.
On 26 April 2013, Chandi died at the age of 14 years 10 months. She developed a condition that was thought to be pyometra. However, during surgery to remove her uterus and spleen, it was discovered that Chandi’s body had many other tumours that could not be removed. Tina made the heart-breaking decision that it was time for Chandi to go and was there when she was put to sleep on the surgical table.
Today, Tina is training a new puppy named Grace and is blogging about her experiences with her new canine companion. You can follow them on Facebook.
And through the wonders of YouTube, here are Tina and Chandi’s performances on Britain’s Got Talent: