Andrea Chilcote is Erik’s person, the woman who experienced and documented Erik’s real life love, loss and rebirth. She credits much of her work today to the lessons received from her teacher, Erik.
Andrea is an author, executive coach, and leadership development expert. She brings to the reader current practical knowledge of the issues and concerns people are facing at this difficult time. She has a keen skilled and intuitive ability to facilitate transformational change in individuals, and her writing offers this opportunity to the reader.
Sara Burden added fantasy and adventure to Erik and Andrea’s true-life story. Equipped with creative imagination and her love for the Chilcote canine family, she helped bring the characters to life. When Andrea asked Sara to collaborate in the writing of Erik’s Hope, she was delighted to do so.
As Vice President of Walden Businesses, a prominent southeastern mergers and acquisitions firm, Sara is featured speaker on numerous talk radio shows and conducts accounting and law firm seminars and workshops. She has addressed women’s professional business groups and has taught educational classes at international conferences for the mergers and acquisitions industry. Sara lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Andrea has authored numerous personal development articles and programs, and designs and delivers leadership curriculum for diverse businesses through her consulting practice, Morningstar Ventures. Andrea lives in Cave Creek, Arizona with her husband, dogs and horses.
Andrea's new photo journal,
This Very Moment, contains essays and reflections that serve as a tool for navigating life's connections.
In the early days, it was tempting to think of Erik as incorrigible--impossible to tame or train, a wild thing that only a mother could love. And love him I did, from the moment I set eyes on his matted dreadlocks. Think of the famous dog Marley (Marley and Me by John Grogan), and you’ll start to get the picture. If Erik had his way, he would roam free by day, getting into all manner of trouble, then curl up next to me in bed at night like a sweet angel who would never stray from my side.
When I adopted Erik from the county shelter in Phoenix, I was naïve to say the least. Nearly a year after he joined our family, a veterinarian was finally bold enough to offer advice.
“Erik needs leadership, Andrea,” he stated bluntly. “From you. Dogs are happiest when they know the rules and boundaries. He wants to please you, but he gets mixed messages.”
I took his advice to heart, though we stumbled through the next few years taking two steps forward, one step back. At least I was making progress. Little did I know I was really the student and Erik the wise teacher.
I’m not sure if Erik mellowed as he aged, if I became more comfortable as alpha dog, or if his body simply didn’t move fast enough for him to run away or wreak havoc when unsupervised. What I am clear about is that Erik was a special angel sent to help me discover who I am and what my life could mean.
Erik was the first of my canine teachers and his lessons transformed me. He was at once a stately and wise white wolf and simultaneously a mischievous coyote. I have come to appreciate that he used whichever was appropriate for the job at hand. I was a tough student and Erik was up to the task in life and beyond.
When Amigo was a young adolescent, a friend and animal communicator commented that she had never known a dog with his level of self-esteem. “He has no doubt who he is, or how loved and appreciated he is. He knows his purpose here, in partnership with you.”
While this was admirable, another validation of the gift he was here to share, I was troubled on a mundane level. “Then why is he a runaway?” I asked. Amigo was a daredevil, flirting with danger at every turn. “Why won’t he obey me when it’s for his own safety--which in turn ensures our mission together?”
"Andrea," my wise friend responded. "There are three elements at play: breed, personality and soul. As a Siberian Husky, he has a nomadic instinct, and a sense of wanderlust and adventure. His genes compel him to roam, seeking excitement." She continued. "His personality is that of alpha wolf. He may be small in stature, but he is full of confidence and feels invincible. He's rather proud of his beautiful looks too."
I smiled at the last remark, as I had been amused by how he seemed to pose for photographs. And while I can't document it, I often caught him looking at himself as we passed by storefronts in which the window acted as a mirror.
My friend concluded her assessment. "Andrea, the third factor may be the most compelling reason he doesn't heed your wishes for safety. He is an evolved soul. To Amigo, death is not something to be feared. In fact, if he were to accidentally die, prematurely, he would return to you without a doubt."
"I see," I responded. "Well, he may be an evolved soul, but I am a mere human at this time. I would grieve and suffer needlessly if he left at this point. So perhaps he is all of those things you describe, and another."
"What's that?" she asked.
"A reckless teenager who I am responsible for keeping safe." We both sighed.
"I will do my best," I said. And I did, for twelve more years.
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