All my pets hold a special place in my heart, but I have to admit that most of my dogs were/are rather eccentric, to put it charitably. My hubby might say neurotic or even psychotic, but he’s not as nice as me. Oliver (and Brandy too) was an absolute exception. You’d be hard pressed to find a dog with a sweeter, happier disposition than our little Oliver Oreo.
In the summer of 1990, I vaguely remember Hubby and one or two of the boys coming home from the hockey rink all excited about a litter of puppies being given away and if we hurried, we could get one. So we hurried. I do remember clearly seeing Oliver for the first time. The runt of the litter, he was a teeny, tiny ball of black and white fluff, and he totally stole our hearts. The consensus to bring him home was unanimous and we never once second-guessed that decision.
His mother was a purebred Lhasa Apso (the lesser-known cousin of the Shih Tzu) and his father was an unknown and unwelcome stranger. Oliver had Lhasa Apso hair with the build of a small terrier. He couldn’t have been more perfect, size-wise and temperament, for a family of young boys. He was loyal and obedient to all of us, but he developed a special bond with my oldest son. The two of them truly loved each other.
We still had our cat, Minet, at that time and Ollie readily wanted to make friends. Once Minet had set down the ground rules – no jumping on her or eating out of her bowl – they became good buddies. The funny thing about that was, although Oliver got along famously with Minet he had a strong and uncharacteristic hatred for all other cats. You could almost see the smile on his face after he’d chased off a cat from our yard.
Being a Lhasa Apso, Ollie’s coat grew constantly and it didn’t take long before he became distinctly dishevelled.
I made the mistake – once – of thinking I could groom him myself. Poor little guy, I think I thoroughly embarrassed him with my pathetic attempt.
Repairs to my first attempt weren’t an actual improvement.
Lesson learned, I had him professionally groomed after that. We kept him long in the winter and had him clipped like a hound in the summer. He looked handsome either way.
Oliver and TC, the little black male across the street, made fast friends. They could often be found quietly taking in the sun together or enjoying a good romp on the lawn. We sometimes joked that the two males had an especially “close” relationship, but what the hey, we were openminded and if it made them happy, who were we to judge?
The boys enjoyed teaching Ollie tricks – sit, shake, high-five, rollover, you know, all the usual, and the bright little guy quickly realized if he did them he’d get a treat. With amazing speed and agility he’d rush through his entire repertoire ending with the “sit pretty” pose. Always gave us a chuckle and earned him his treat.
Ollie’s 1st birthday.
We took Ollie with us everywhere we could. He camped, he boated, he hiked, he visited family in faroff places. He sometimes got a little nervous in the car, but good boy that he was, he “suffered in silence”, often needing nothing more than to sit on my lap and stick his nose in the air vent. Although he often snuggled with the boys at home, he wasn’t a lapdog by any means, so I always found it amusing how he insisted on sitting on my lap in the car and I willingly accommodated his need when we traveled.
Minet & Ollie getting a snuggle.
As Oliver got older, he developed a cough and we were given the dreaded news that he had congestive heart failure. We put him on medication and it seemed to help for a while. We did our best to keep him comfortable and content, but gradually he grew weaker and we had to make that heart-breaking decision to end his suffering.
In 2002, my brave, brave son, who loved his dog so very much, took him to vet and stayed with him as he eased into his forever sleep. I can still envision the tip of Ollie’s little tail bobbing merrily as he slowly patrolled the perimeters one final time. We almost changed our minds that morning, we really wanted to, but that would’ve been selfish of us. We had that beautiful happy little dog in our lives for twelve fulfilling years and it was time to let him go. But he will forever be a part of us.