It’s 6.30am.

It’s Saturday.

Never a good combination when your week has been made up of early starts and you just wanted one day to sleep in.

I’m faced with a difficult decision, I desperately need to pee, but know this means as soon as I rouse from my slumber, that’s it, our dog Ollie will be ready for the day.

Temptation succumbs as it’s impossible to get back to sleep while trying to hold it in, and as the splash of sweet relief hits the bowl, I hear him stretch off with a big yawn.

I leave the bathroom and there he is doing his usually morning ritual rolling around on his back, rubbing against the top of the stairs.

The whole action sets him off with a hacking cough, forcing him to stand back up.

He goes back to happily rolling around, so I go over and rub his belly and he shows his appreciation by rolling further over.

I return to the comfort of bed and he comes back in the room, a sight I can only identify by an ecstatic tail moving motion.

The tail descends towards me, like a cute waggy Jaws.

As I continue to try and ignore him and go back to sleep, he stirs around the bed and my partner, Vicky is woken by the movement.  She reaches over to her phone and upon seeing the time sighs, slumping back onto the pillow.

We both know what he expects and there is no going back.

As we fight to gather the strength to move after a night’s sleep, Ollie gets more and more wound up giving bursts of little excited squeaks pacing back and forth in the direction of the bedroom door.

Vicky reminds him that he can’t go for a W-A-L-K just yet as we still need to get dressed, not that explaining this concept has any effect on his zeal to go out.

We make our way downstairs and he clumsily paces up and down the steps, carelessly crashing into our legs.

The squeaks become more rapid, more excited, more louder.

You would think he’d never had a walk before.

As we start to put on our shoes he spins around carelessly crashing into the walls, battering whatever else is in the way.

He lets out a yelping bark, which we tell him off for as we don’t want him waking our night shift working neighbours.

Not much notice is paid, Ollie continues with the same enthusiasm and goes bloody berserk (like he always does) when his lead is pulled off the hook.

He continues to run around cracking Vicky in the leg and almost hobbling her off her feet, so I grab him by the collar to try and pacify him a bit.

This makes no difference and as I attempt to loop the chain of the lead around his neck, his head jerks around in a frenzy.

For the record, this is exactly the same walk we do with him every day, but every walk gets the same enthusiasm.

As we head off towards Ferry Bridge power station, Ollie paces along ahead pulling me slightly along, as if he is walking me for the journey.

For a moment I look at that excitement, that drive to do something so routine, so mundane, and I think

“If only humans could have that same zest for life, then maybe we’d be happier”


Saying goodbye…

I wrote this several years ago, to be used as an introduction to a piece talking about the endless enthusiasm a dog has and why we should try to learn from that. I never quite liked the body content, so it never got published…

Sadly, in the final week of UK Lockdown we lost our Ollie.

With the darkness we’ve experienced, this little anecdote is how I like to remember him as it sums up his character well.

Vicky and I are devastated to lose him as we lost a big part of our life.

He was a loyal companion, a friend, and our rock when we suffered setbacks.

He was our furry guy who loved us unconditionally regardless of our flaws.

Although it was my wife who rescued him, he came part of the package being with her and although I didn’t get as much time with him, I too fell in love with the canine who became a big part of my life.

Before we got married and had children it was just the three of us, and he was a big part of making our house a home.

Our hurt is so deep because we love him so much.

Ollie was so happy, energetic, and yes, he had a zest for life that made me realise even the smallest things like getting up in the morning and being able to go for a walk was something worth getting excited over.

We miss you so much my friend, until we meet again.

James.


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