There’s a West Highland White Terrier that rules my life….and our home. Her name is Dragoncourt Olivia Francis Hocking, better known to us and everyone we know, as Ollie.
On the 29th of January 2006 she arrived into the world, on a farm, in Wales.
A four-hour drive away in London, on the other side of the UK, my husband Marc and I had been talking over whether we should have a baby or not. After much discussion and consideration, we made our decision and settled on not. We did decide however, that now would be the perfect time to bring a new member into the family….we would get a dog!
We did a lot of research. We wanted to have a dog that was a good companion, independent, didn’t shed too much fur, had few health issues as a breed, was hearty and rough and tumble, not too big, not too small. Then one day in Kensington Gardens we spotted a couple of “Westies”. They were running around, covered in mud, tails upright and wagging and generally having a bloody good time. I immediately went home, Googled everything I could on West Highland White Terriers then embarked on the search for one of our very own.
I came across a lady in Wales who had a litter that was just about to be born. We decided that we would get a boy and I put my name down on the list of potential parents. I had decided on the name Oliver, but we would just call him Ollie.
Anyhow….the 29/01/06 came about and the litter was born. There was only one boy in the litter and he was already accounted for, so we would, in 10 weeks be taking the drive to Wales to pick up our fluffy baby girl, who I still wanted to call Ollie….so Olivia would be the name on her birth certificate, I also decided to add a middle name for her, Francis, after my dad, that was his middle name and Dragoncourt is her kennel name. So, Dragoncourt Olivia Francis Hocking it would be….from now on to be known simply as Ollie.
I couldn’t believe how little she was. She was shaking and so scared. I was taking her away from her mummy….but the drive back to London gave us time to bond. She sat in my arms the whole way home, cuddled up to me…..she was perfect and I loved her with all of my heart already.
Marc had kind of made the rule that Ollie would not sleep in the bedroom, least of all our bed. That lasted about a nanosecond. I had decided that as a dog, she was a pack animal, we were now her pack and wherever we were….she should be.
So we set her bed up in our bedroom, on my side so I could reach down and comfort her if need be. We bought her new bowls and a cubby to hide in, fluffy toys and squeaky toys, balls and bones and everything a growing puppy could ever possibly need.
She grew and grew and grew and finally after all her shots and the waiting period had passed…off we went to the park to meet other dogs and make friends. I didn’t understand it that first time….but very soon, time at the park and all the doggy people would become my world.
We went to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park every day. We met so many fun and interesting people, we’d walk around together, people would come over and say hi, talk to us, ask me about Ollie. I taught her to swim in the duck pond. She chased joggers and I chased her! We would come home and she would sleep….exhausted from all the running around and sniffing. I could get some housework done or quickly duck to the shops whilst she snoozed….but when she woke up, off we’d go again, for a walk around the streets of Notting Hill and Bayswater.
Ollie and I are almost always together, in fact if locals see me without her by my side, they always ask….”Where’s Ollie?”.
I can’t even begin to explain how much I love her but let me try. She is the one I always want by my side. She is the first one I cuddle in the morning, she is the one whose belly I will rub for hours on end….I have to, if I stop she nudges my arm with her nose. When I am away from her, I miss her and when we are making plans to do anything at all, I always consider Ollie in those plans. She makes me laugh when she talks and “walks” in her sleep. She comforts me when she can tell I am feeling sad. I love smelling her head after she has a bath, I love her fluffy fur. I love how excited she is to see me after I’ve been at the shop for a whole 3 mins.
I love the way she talks to me and can tell me exactly what she wants. She doesn’t use words like we do….but if she wants something she will let me now. She will scratch on the door if she wants to go out, she’ll go to the cupboard and look up at it if she wants something to eat, she taps you with her paw if she wants attention, she nudges for a cuddle. She is the fussiest eater on the planet. I couldn’t tell you how many varieties of dog food we have tried….but she prefers her mums cooking, what can I do? I make her chicken and rice and she gobbles it up. She loves roast pork and lamb shanks. She loves treaties….but not all treaties. She must sniff carefully and consider before she eats….it’s just the way she is.
She has her spot on the couch and Marc and I have learned that if we are in it….we best bloody move out of it if she wants it back. She sleeps between our pillows and takes up way too much room, we have learned to live with that. She goes crazy and barks at animals on the television, so we have to watch any show with animals in it when she is sleeping. She loves to go to the pub and will walk up to the pub door every time we pass by, it takes careful negotiation to get her to move. She hates cats….people should keep cats indoors….or don’t be angry when she wants to chase one down the street barking her nut of at it. She will sit patiently waiting for squirrels and enjoys stalking them….she’s never caught one yet. She loves swimming in the river….I indulge her this, but only when I have hours to spare, getting her out of the river is quite a challenge. She loves long walks on Sundays, exploring the streets of London, she is very scared of buses and trucks….so we take the back streets.
People have said to me in the past…”she’s just a dog”, “she’ll be OK for a few hours”, “who’s the boss here”, “make her do it”, “she’s so fussy”, etc, etc. I find those comments ignorant and hurtful. Only someone who has and loves a dog can understand the connection and the concessions we make for our dogs. My Ollie owns my heart, I love her in my life, I need her in my life. She is my soul mate and without her I would not be complete. It’s as simple as that. If I can make her happy….that makes me happy, it’s my pleasure.
So, here’s two thumbs up to Ollie for being my constant companion and my best friend for the past 6 and a half years. Love….as it should be.