Michelle swaps reinsurance for UK dog school
As change goes, Michelle Ingham's was a radical one.
The 42-year-old left a well-paid job in Bermuda last October, to work with a dog trainer in England.
She swears she wasn't having a midlife crisis.
“That sounds so extreme,” said Ms Ingham, a former VP at Validus Reinsurance. “I was just looking for a change.”
She had only recently got a dog; her passion had always been horses.
“I got my first dog, a Jack Russell puppy, in 2014,” she said. “Some friends had a litter.”
Jasper proved a handful so Ms Ingham signed up for classes with Lauren Langman, a British trainer who holds annual workshops here.
“I was really impressed,” she said. “I liked the methodology of the training. It is about positive reinforcement.”
A few months later she visited Ms Langman at Devon Dogs, her training school in the UK.
The two got talking about the business and, before she knew it, Ms Ingham had a new job.
“When I got back to Bermuda I was chatting to Lauren online one evening and very casually said if they ever needed someone to help them let me know,” said Ms Ingham. “She came back and said they actually did need someone. It all went from there.
“I wanted to do something different. When it came down to it, the decision was really easy. What better way to learn more about how a small business runs than to embed myself in one?”
She now lives in the village of Sourton, population 400, in West Devon. As office manager at Devon Dogs, she is working to make the business more efficient and helps with event planning.
Family and friends were “hugely supportive” of the move, she said.
“I have had so many people say to me how they wish they could do something like this and follow their passion. I'm lucky enough to have been able to take advantage of a great opportunity.
“Honestly, the hardest adjustment for Jasper and I has been the cold. Jasper doesn't like the cold very much, so it has been hard to take him out.”
She admitted there have been brief moments when she has regretted the move. Temperatures in Devon hover around 41F at this time of year.
“That's usually when I'm standing in the training arena, and I can't feel my toes anymore,” she laughed. “Life is very different in Devon to Bermuda but I'm doing something I love.
“I get to use my skills to help a small business and I am working with dogs at one of the top training facilities in the UK. How lucky am I?”
The experience has been so enjoyable, she hasn't missed riding at all. And she now has a second puppy, Coast.
“I am getting to do something I really enjoy,” she said. “A memory just came up on my Facebook page showing that just a year ago I was competing with horses. Dogs are a bit easier and they are much more portable.
“I am really pleased I made the switch as the concepts for training are very similar. I enjoy the challenge of training dogs. I am using all I have learnt during 36 years of riding horses, but with dogs.”
• Learn more about Devon Dogs here: www.devondogs.co.uk