Chandi is probably best known for her appearances on Britain’s Got Talent in 2010 – we received a standing ovation from the judges at our audition then went onto win our semi final with the second largest public vote of the series (a staggering 58.2%), and eventually placed fourth overall in the Final.
Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) was not the first show we did together though … we have been competing in Heelwork to Music and Freestyle competitions (dog dancing!) since 1999, and Chandi quickly became a force to be reckoned with!
Having fished Chandi out of the dog pound in 1997, we won the inaugural Crufts HTM/Freestyle Final in 2005 and then clocked up an impressive hat trick of wins in 2009 at Crufts, winning all three HTM, Freestyle and International Freestyle Finals in the same year setting three records (that still remain): first dog to win a total of four Crufts titles; first dog to win both HTM and Freestyle at the same Crufts; and first dog to win all three Finals in the same year!
Crufts is the ultimate dream for many dog trainers around the world – you get to compete against the best in your sport and these four Crufts titles are definitely our proudest moment. Bear in mind that Chandi was a former pound hound and I paid just £10 for the honour of taking her home with me. In fact, maybe that should be *four* records we hold – only rescue dog to win four titles in HTM and Freestyle at Crufts …!
Life has been a whirlwind since Britain’s Got Talent, which was almost two years ago now, back in 2010. For the past year, I have been working on writing our memoir, with Chandi, as ever, constantly by my side.
Getting our book published is a dream come true, as clichéd as that may sound, it is the truth. The day I received the very first copy of our book and held it in my hands, was an emotional one. Seeing copies on the shelf, for sale, was another!
Chandi and I did our first book signing on April 7, 2012, at a gorgeous independent book store, called Burway Books, in Church Stretton, Shropshire. I was feeling a little nervous;Chandi of course was feeling fine! I needn’t have worried though, lots of people came to see us and some had travelled considerable distances – coming from far and wide – London, Somerset and Yorkshire! It was lovely to chat to everyone and some people had already read our book cover to cover and it was overwhelming to listen to them telling me about their favourite parts and why they liked them so much, often referring to their own dogs.
One comment that many people made; and one that features a great deal in the reviews we are getting is that the book will make you cry, and laugh and you won’t be able to put it down. These are compliments that I never dreamed anyone would pay to my writing and our book – I don’t think there is anything better an author would wish to hear. Even when choreographing our routines and choosing music, I always hoped that my ideas and the way Chandi and me performed them would move people, and I was lucky that on several occasions I combined everything just right to do exactly that.
For many weeks before our book was officially released on March 29, 2012, it was at number one in ‘hot new release dog books’. Last week we reached the dizzy heights of number nine in ‘dog books’ just a few days after it was released, and we are currently at number 8!
‘Chandi’ has received some outstanding reviews in the press:
This is what Books Monthly has to say: “Heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking story of Chandi the brilliant rescue dog that helped Tina Humphrey overcome her personal problems and tragedies and to become a household name. The dog is an absolute marvel, and Tina’s and Chandi’s story will have you reaching for the tissues. Full of brilliant anecdotes and memories, this is a lovely book that will charm anyone who reads it. Sensational.”
And newspaper review:
“This is a memoir with the very widest appeal … you don’t have to be an animal lover to fall for Tina Humphrey and Chandi. Theirs is a heart-warming and often humorous story of pain and perseverance, resilience and mutual reliance, grief and glamour, work and play, love and selflessness.
Humphrey’s experiences of grief and loss have endowed her with a determination to ‘live for the day,’ a philosophy which she expounds with genuine feeling, humility and grace….”
So far – the book was only released on March 29, - there are twenty two five star reviews on Amazon. Here is a taste of what some of them have to say, courtesy of Amazon:
“Tina Humphrey has given us a beautifully written book about her, Pepper’s and Chandi’s story. This is not a shallow tale but a rich and true narrative. I was immediately absorbed and remained so throughout. I was laughing out loud as I read about Pepper frolicking on a nudist beach and in tears reading about Tina’s mum’s brave fight against cancer. I challenge anyone not to be heartened by the description of the bond between Tina, Chandi and Pepper and between Chandi and Pepper themselves. You will better understand the success Tina, Pepper and Chandi have achieved. This book will not disappoint.“
“I loved this book so much and found i could only put it down to take my own dog out. The story behind the Britain’s Got Talent ‘dancing dog’. We first learn how Tina found Pepper, a frightened, broken stray at a local dog pound, and then 4 years later, Chandi. The story behind Tina’s relationship and accomplishments with both her dogs is heartwarming. I laughed out loud several times while reading about their camping trip and Peppers antics at a nudist beach. I cried when Tina descibed the pain of losing her parents and Pepper. But what we see throughout the whole book is the incredible bond Tina and Chandi share. A definite must-read!”
“A very absorbing and insightful book, beautifully written by a very accomplished author. Long may she and her present and future dogs enjoy their mutual love and understanding. Family life, as Tina says, isn’t only about blood ties.“
“…I knew, of course, that there would be tears. Boxes of tissues should be sold alongside this book, not only for those who love dogs, but for everyone who has ever loved and lost someone.
Heartwarming, funny, sad, and one of the most memorable books I have read.”
“Please buy and read. Have tissues or a hankey close by – you will need it!!! It has everything I look for in a book – Good story, twists and turns, highs and lows, emotion and drama! AND it’s true too!”
“An absolute must read book, once i had started it i couldnt put it down. I shed plenty of tears so make sure you have a box of tissues handy.”
More reviews can be seen by clicking here, which will take you to Amazon.
Our book ‘Chandi: the rescue dog who stole a nation’s heart’ is available in both paperback and Kindle edition, from Waterstones, WHSmith, click here to buy from Amazon.co.uk, and all good book stores, including Burway Books in Church Stretton.
Book signing dates:
We have more book signing dates lined up – check back often for more details – the next confirmed date is June 2, 2012, at Waterstones in Abergavenny (time TBC).
We will also be signing at Waterstones in Macclesfield and Croydon, but dates and times are yet to be confirmed.
More requests from Waterstones branches are coming in on a daily basis, so more dates will be added to what is turning out to be a book signing tour!
Videos of routines:
There are of course references to various routines that Chandi and I performed over the years. Once you discover the story behind them, you may want to watch the routine. This is the ‘dressage’ routine that I dedicated to my Mum.
And the next is the ‘show-jumping’ routine, the sister routine to the ‘dressage’ one:
This is from Crufts in 2007:
Our appearance on Richard and Judy, after winning BBC One’s talent show When will I be famous?, in 2007.
Routines from Crufts in 2009; the first is our ‘ballet’ routine:
and this is ‘Footprints in the sand’ – it’s a bit blurry, but still watchable:
Then from Britain’s Got Talent, our first audition:
At the semi-final:
And at the Final:
I hope that if you decide to read our book that you enjoy it and if you do, please recommend it to your friends – or share the link on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media websites.
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