11 Today!

Our beloved dog Ollie is 11 years old today. He will be getting fresh-cooked chicken for dinner later, and some extra treats. He has a present of a soft toy birthday cake too, which he loves!

Julie has also bought him a ‘canine-edible birthday card’. (The things you can find online these days!) It smells of bacon, but he won’t eat it. He definitely does not associate rice paper with food.

Baby Ollie. His first photo.

Big strong Ollie. The most recent photo.

Ollie Update

I know many of you like to be informed about what is happening with Ollie. Well, something new has happened. As if our poor dog hasn’t suffered enough in his almost 11 years.

With us both living with full-blown Covid, Julie elected to take Ollie for his walk today. That saved me going out in the freezing rain when I was feeling like death warmed up. On her return, she was concerned. Ollie had tried to poo as usual, but he had trouble passing it, and eventually just started to bleed copiously from his rear end. It didn’t seem to upset him unduly, but naturally worried us and we didn’t want to be faced with an emergency over the Christmas shutdown period.

So Julie rang the Vet and arranged that they would see Ollie under Covid rules, with her wearing a mask. She got an appointment for 4pm. The Vet did the usual examinations, and had an immediate diagnosis. Colitis. Ollie has an inflammation of the colon, caused by the interior version of the frequent exterior skin infections he gets every year.

She managed to put Julie’s mind at rest. It is very common, and easily treated. A prescription of antibiotics, and feed to be changed to small amounts several times a day, instead of one big meal.

Now everyone in this small house has something. Even our beloved pet.

An Alphabet Of My Life: O


Ollie has only been in my life for just under 11 years, but has already become such a significant part of my whole life so far. Everyone knows how much I love my dog, my constant companion. He is the heart and soul of my blog, and has become a firm favourite of many readers around the world.

He features in this A-Z because he has given me so much, and asked for nothing in return. As I type this, he is three feet away from me, and sleeping soundly. He is happy to just be next to me, and to follow me wherever I go.

Without Ollie, I would never have really got to know Beetley. Never met the many dog-walkers who have become friends since I moved here from London. He has provided me with much-needed exercise, something I am sure extended my life expectancy in retirement. He has also given me his devotion, and his undying affection.

Having Ollie to care for made me whole, and a better person in so many ways.


There are times when you can enjoy a dog sitting on your lap.

And there are other times when…

We drove down to Attleborough to see one of my stepdaughters this afternoon. It was her husband’s birthday, and we wanted to drop off his card and present.

As you can see, they have a dog.

Loki is a 2 year-old Cane Corso, an Italian Mastiff.

He hadn’t seen me for a while, and wanted to show his affection by sitting on my lap. Literally. As he weighs over 11 stones, (155 pounds) I knew he was there.

Despite his Shetland pony size, and the fact that his head is much bigger than mine, he is a gentle giant. He loves strokes and cuddles, and likes to sit as close to you as possible, preferably on you.

Whe we got home later Ollie was intrigued, and gave me a very detailed sniff for a considerably long time.

Ollie At The Vet=No Serial Episode Today

After a perfectly uneventful walk today, Ollie began acting strangely. He would not lie down and sleep as he usually does, and instead stood around, panting.

It hasn’t been remotely hot here today, and I also noticed his tail was uncurled. So something had happened. It was one of those times when you wish a dog could talk. I gave him a good examination, but could find no obvious injury. His skin has flared up again recently because of the hot weather we had, but that never stops him lying down.

He kept coming to me for strokes and reassurance, and at one stage I realised he hadn’t had his dinner. But when I prepared that for him he refused to eat any of it.

When Julie got home from work he was pleased to see her, but nothing would persuade him to sit, or lie down. He continued to pant constantly, so we became concerned and rang the Vet. Luckily, we were able to get an appointment at short notice, and took him down at 4pm. He jumped into the back of the car easily enough, but when he tried to lie down on his bed in the back, he screamed and yelped. That meant he remained standing all the way to Swaffham, so I had to drive extra carefully.

Her diagnosis was inconclusive. Possibly a sting or insect bite, due to her noticing a small swelling on one of his back legs. Perhaps a back strain, as he was not happy when she examined his back. While he was there, she suggested antibiotics for the skin condition, and a steroid cream. Though this had nothing to do with why we had taken him of course.

To try to ease his pain immediately, she gave him an injection of a Morphine-based pain killer, and prescribed tablet painkillers containing a ‘dog-dose’ of Codeine. Julie asked her if he might be able to lie down later to sleep, and her reply was “I don’t know”. His regular Arthritis tablets were ready, so that at least saved me a second trip tomorrow.

We got back at 5:20, and Ollie is still standing up, still panting, and still refusing to eat or drink anything. I have a feeling we are going to have a very troublesome night with him later.

The bill for the 10-minute consultation and prescribed drugs was an eye-watering. £237. ($285)
It takes a long time to train to become a Vet, but it’s worth it once you qualify.

As a result, there will be no epsiode of the serial ‘The Prodigy’ today. Sorry about that.

Private Dogcare

If you have a pet, you will already be aware of the spiralling costs of making sure it is healthy and free of pain.

In the UK, with the benefit of our NHS, we are sometimes reminded of the cost of private healthcare in countries like America. If you have a pet, especially a dog with various ongoing medical conditions, the reality of how much that costs can be sobering indeed.

Ollie has to have a painkiller every day, because of arthritis in his front leg joints. If he doesn't have the tablet, you will soon notice him walking stiff-legged, and reluctant to walk at all on any hard surfaces, like pavements. Then when he wakes up the next morning, it takes some time for him to 'get going'.

So we pay for the tablets. Of course we do.

For some time now, the cost of a 30day supply has been £38. That works out to £456 a year, close to £8.80 a week. I have just been to Swaffham to collect his repeat prescription, only to find that the tablet has now 'increased in dose to make it more effective'. Along with that increase in efficacy has come an increase in price.

A 30-day supply now costs just over £46, an £8 increase in just one month. That's an extra £96 a year we have to find, without warning, and with no viable altenative to a painkiller that we know works well for Ollie, and makes him comfortable in his old age. An annual cost now of £552, or £10.62 a week. That is without the possibility of Ollie needing treatment for ear or skin infections, dental treatment, or anything else that may befall our beloved dog in his twilight years.

Naturally, we will pay. But what about people who cannot afford it? These constantly increasing Vet fees will only have one outcome. More pets will be left in pain, and other pets will be abandoned, or given up to rescue centres.

Ollie’s Ears (Again)

Just before we went on holiday in September, Ollie had a bad infection in his left ear. I took him to the Vet, and they tried a new gel treatment, administered directly into his ear. It worked so well, he was on the mend within 24 hours, and by the time of the second dose a week later, completely cured.

That was only a month ago, but Ollie started to shake his head again last Wednesday. By Thursday, he was hanging his head to the right, and that ear felt hot. Out on his walk, he started to rub the right ear against anything he could find, followed by frantic shaking of his whole head.

So I arranged to get him to the Vet last Friday, and another dose of the gel was given, into the right ear this time. That evening, he calmed down considerably, and by Saturday afternoon, he was even quite playful.

Next Thursday, I have to take him back for the second dose, as it can only be given by a qualified Vet. This is nothing short of miraculous though, as previous treatment involved 10 days of antibiotic and steroid tablets, which became increasingly difficult to get him to take.

If you have a dog that is prone to ear infections, ask your Vet about this product.
(I gain nothing from this recommendation, just so you know.)

Ollie And My Office

Most days, I spend a fair bit of time in the small third bedroom. It no longer has a bed in it, just some bookcases, a big desk with my PC on it, and the second hand office chair I have enjoyed sitting in for some years now. The room is always referred to as ‘The Office’.

Ollie likes to be within reach of me at all times, so when I go and sit down in the office, he follows me and lies down on the carpet twelve inches from my chair. Once he realises I am going to be in there for some time, he generally goes to sleep, snoring noisly next to me as I type.

It didn’t take my dog very long to start to identify what he obviously thinks of as ‘signals’.

Me: Moves chair back to reach something behind me.
Ollie: Stands up immediately, no longer asleep. Are we going out now?

Me: Opens a drawer in the desk to find a pen, charging cable, or notebook.
Ollie: Stands up, tail wagging. We must be going out now!

Me: Closes drawer, slides chair back in and resumes typing.
Ollie: Slumps back down. False alarm, we’re not going out yet. Immediately asleep again.

Me: Decide to have another coffee. Stand up and head for the kitchen.
Ollie: Jumps up and follows. He’s heading for the back door, must be time to go out.

Me: Gets a cup and switches on kettle.
Ollie: Slumps down in the kitchen doorway. Looks like we are not going out after all.

Me: Decide to start on the draft for tomorrow’s serial episode.
Ollie: Enough is enough! He’s getting my chin on his leg!

Me: “Come on then, let’s take you out”.