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The Animal Magic Family Story


Back in 2015 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and because I could barely fill a haynet (never mind anything else) I was forced to give up my 25 year career with horses. It was absolutely devastating as they had been my obsession / passion / lifestyle from a very young age, and my horses were quite simply my everything - I lived for them (and of course, my other pets!).



For the previous 7 years I had run a horse riding school, pony club and small animal rescue organisation; and had worked with animals in one way or another most of my life before that. So it seemed only natural that I continue with what I knew and in May 2016 started Animal Magic Family as a dog walker. Very quickly the need for day care and home boarding escalated and I soon became the areas most sought after service. Within 18 months I went from living in my car to a one bedroom flat to a 4 bedroom house with an actual garden 🤩


The enquiries kept rolling in and it wasn’t too long before I outgrew that place too. This, together with the fact I had been living next door to the neighbours from hell led me to search for a farmhouse with land, and I moved to Oakworth in June 2019 🏡 Thankfully my already loyal customers came with me, which I was extremely happy about 😁 The downside of the move was that my Mum had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I had relocated even further away from her 😔


As it was in a bit of a mess, much of the first 8 months were spent doing the property up, so it wasn’t until March 2020 I launched an advertising campaign targeted to the local area. Just short of a week later, this expense proved to be entirely pointless as whilst I stood gawping at the telly, Boris announced we were going into lockdown 🤯🤯🤯


Having already borrowed a lot of money from my parents and my bank to set the new venue up, I literally thought I was going to spontaneously combust when I realised my regular customers either couldn’t or wouldn’t attend any more. All boarders cancelled for the foreseeable future and I arrived at the conclusion I may as well have set fire to all that money I had spent! 💰


I could quite easily have given up at that point, but giving up just isn’t within my repertoire. The very real threat of doom only succeeded to fuel my determination and though the whole situation was truly soul destroying, I marched on, and survived 😤


The next year was somewhat challenging as I couldn’t visit my parents often enough, lost touch with the few friends I had, separated from my partner and of course the massively decreased custom meant minimal income against a mahoosive mountain of bills 🥵 Thankfully in July 2021 things took a turn when the restrictions were lifted and we were absolutely inundated with customers 🥳 This also came with a negative as sadly my Mum had been burdened with another battle - this time with Oesophageal cancer - and had to face horrendous treatment and surgery alone (nobody was allowed to go into the hospital with her through any of it, with thanks to Covid 😷). The surgery seemed to be successful and from September we were looking to a happier future and steering her towards a cruise with my sister and co the following summer… but, on 1st February 2022 we learnt that actually the surgery hadn’t cleared the cells, the bastard disease had consumed her body and she had just 2 months left with us. My beautiful Mum passed away in her sleep 3 days later 🥀



For 6 whole months I actually thought my business would make a full recovery… until January 2022, when my customers started dropping like flies thanks to the cost of living crisis. Fast forward to December 2022 and my regular doggy day care register had fallen from 96 dogs a week to just 22.


At this point I couldn’t remember a single good day and again, I should have stopped there (and honestly nearly did). But nope! Each time I’m on the brink of despair my lifelong fight to achieve great things resurfaces and reignites my passion and motivation… 🔥


By January 2023 I had decided to go ahead and incorporate some of my other ventures on site, to include a dog friendly cafe, pet bakery and gift shop. These all opened that Spring and we had so much positive feedback, but unfortunately due to repetitive staffing setbacks over the summer and an exhausted brain I decided to put the cafe on a hiatus.


 

I really realised last year that I absolutely SUCK at marketing. I guess I’d always known that but with the rise of the importance of social media over the last few years, it doesn’t half show when you’re just not THAT type of person. I can plan as much content as you like but putting it on view for the world to see and judge is a whole different ball game 😵‍💫 Plus, my brain fog portrays itself as my absolute worst enemy when I’m presented with subjects I don’t feel comfortable with 🥴


Nevertheless, I spent the winter months doing courses and researching all aspects of marketing, putting together an extensive plan to kick 2024 off with a definitive bang. I told myself I’m just gonna have to grow some balls and turn that camera round on me! (😱)


More staffing issues in January led to my hitting my head on a brick wall phase and somewhere amidst that time I resigned myself to the fact that I’m just never going to be THAT person… But remembered, I enjoy writing! I’ll do that instead! Of course i’ll still do the odd post here and there but for now I’ll be the one clutching the pen and looking forward to the day I can employ a social media manager who possesses the extrovert personality I will never have 😆


And so, here I officially launch my blog and newsletter series! I hope you enjoy reading my ramblings (and I am a rambler, sorry 🤓) and if you don’t… well, it took me 45 years to realise that it’s impossible to please everybody (or to be pleased by mostly everybody) so 😝



💞 Victoria 💞



Proprietor of & General Dogsbody at Animal Magic Family

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