Life without Vale was very empty and quiet. Chelsea became clingy and lethargic and I cried a lot.
Eventually the tears gave way to laughter and happy memories.
Friends would chat about Vale and the funny quirky things she did.
“Do you remember that time we were in the food shop and Vale stole a cream egg?” said one friend.
“I remember when I saw Nicki and Vale together once, I tapped Nicki on the shoulder and asked if Vale was supposed to wander round with a pork pie in her mouth!”
I giggled at this memory. That was just typical of Vale.
She was always causing mischief and I loved her for it.
I’d worked at my local radio station as a presenter and newsreader for 18 months while I looked for employment.
In 2010 I got a job with the RNIB and Chelly had to learn the route to and from work.
It was an hour’s bus ride there and back, but she relished each and every moment of guiding me through the pedestraianised streets of the town I worked in.
It was strange working in a place where the shopping streets were pedestrianized. It meant there was heaps more street furniture for Chelly to navigate through, which she did without any trouble at all.
We had to make regular trips to Cardiff as that’s where our head office was based.
We even went to the House of Commons to meet David Blunket and some MP’s from Wales.
When my contract ended in 2011 I didn’t know what to do.
I’ve always loved Australia since we studied it at school but had never travelled there for fear something would happen to Vale.
Now I realised that I couldn’t control things like this, something had happened to Vale and one day it would happen to Chelsea.
I could either stay at home wishing for a more adventurous life, or I could get out there and create my own adventures.
I rang a company which organised volunteer placements abroad and they told me they had a placement in Perth at a local radio station.
I applied and was accepted.
So, I went to Perth, entirely by myself. I didn’t know anyone out there but spent a month living with a delightful family.
Australia was everything I hoped it’d be – and more!!
I missed Chelsea so much though, not just because she was my guide dog, but her companionship and mischief.
The family had a naughty little Kelpie though who stopped me feeling as home-sick as I would without the presence of a dog.
I didn’t take Chelly as the flight was very long and I thought she’d be better off at home for such a short time away.
The guide dog trainer who trained us both told me I had the right attitude about it.
I’d always loved journalism and had worked voluntarily on all our local papers and of course the radio station.
I went as far as applying to study in Perth on a post-grad course in broadcast journalism..
However, my Father wasn’t very well at all and I knew I’d miss my parents very much if I was so far away.
I still had a strong desire to work for the media though, so I decided to apply for the post-grad at Cardiff University.
I’d been to Cardiff a few times, it was OK, nothing really special, but it was one of the best courses in the country and only a few hours by train.
I was accepted on to the course and the next chapter of my life began.
I had no idea what a roller-coaster it would be, and I was about to face the most traumatic time of my life so far!