My mum and dad said I asked for a dog for as soon as I could speak, specifically a golden retriever. I used to have pictures of golden retrievers cut out and stuck on the wall around my room, I pretty much had golden retriever everything. I used to raise money for the local dog home and spend my pocket money on dog biscuits and take them round to my neighbour’s dog. I was always dog obsessed but I could never get a dog because my parents worked full time.
I remember the moment my mum and dad agreed that we would get a dog. I had been in hospital for a long time with neurological problems and was recovering at home, I had a support worker that came in for 4 hours a day so my mum and dad could work. At the time I was in a wheelchair and didn’t have much movement in my left side. My condition was rapidly improving as before I had no movement or feeling in my left side, it had been planned that I was going to take a year off before returning to college to finish my access to nursing course. I was sitting in the back garden with my support worker waiting for my dad to come home, we were talking about what I was going to do for the next year and we got onto the topic how nice it would be if I could get a dog to keep me company, we joked and she said she would convince my dad when he got home. When my dad got home we all sat in the garden and my support worker chatted to my dad about how good it would be to get a puppy as I was going to be off for a year so we had the perfect opportunity to train a puppy. My dad just replied “yep I think that’s a great idea, I will have a look”(this is very out of character for my dad, so I thought he was kidding). A week later my dad told me that we were going to go and see some golden retriever puppies that were two weeks old. On the 15th of June 2013 we took the 3 hour drive down to Haltwhistle in England to go and see the puppies and we all fell in love. It was first come, first serve and you didn’t pick a puppy on the first visit, so we were told as we were the 3rd family wanting a boy that when we came back to pick our puppy up we would have a choice of two boys. On the 22nd of July we went back to England to stay overnight before we went to Haltwhistle the next morning to pick up our boy. I remember not sleeping at all that night and just imagining what he might be like, or if I would know what puppy I wanted. On the 23rd of July we all got in the car, the half an hour journey felt like it took 3 days. We arrived and we nervously waited for them to bring through the two puppies, I squealed when I saw the woman coming through the window with the first puppy, he looked like a little polar bear. In he came with giant paws, he was so gentle, he licked my hand before running off and slowly he became more confident and came over to be clapped. Next we heard a bang and in came running this giant ball of fluff, he was like a little whirlwind. He bounced off my dad, jumped up on me catching my nose on his little jaggy teeth before running in circles round and round the kitchen. He darted back and forward between me, my mum and my dad, jumping at our faces catching us with his snappy mouth and jaggy teeth. He did a giant poop in the middle of the floor and then came and cuddled in. I knew he was mine and he would be called Oscar!
We arrived home, only with one brief moment in the car when he decided he wanted to investigate and fell under the front passenger seat(whoops). It was quickly decided that Oscar sounded too posh for a puppy who picked up every puppy training pad in the house and carried it around like a prize, so we decided Oscar would be his Sunday name and we would call him Ozzi for short. Ozzi was like no other, he bounced around the floor, ran in circles chasing his tail, barked at his own shadow and had a love for retrieving anything out of bins.
We had set rules before getting a puppy:
Rule 1 – No dog upstairs (definitely not in the bed)
Rule 2 – No begging for food
Rule 3 – No dogs on the couch or any furniture
Rule 4 – The dog only plays with his toys
Rule 1 – We didn’t even last one night, he spent his first night in his crate in my bedroom, when he was toilet trained he was in the bed beside me. Now he takes himself away off to bed when he is tired and he definitely does not feel guilty if he takes on 9/10ths of the bed all night.
Rule 2 – This sounds incredibly insane now for a dog who drools all over your lap when you are eating, even at family meals (people must love visiting us). If you, even by accident, finish your whole meal without leaving Ozzi a bit you get the death stare from the rest of the family, I mean how could you? Ozzi even gets the end of a cup of tea, and will bark if you are taking too long to finish. This is the dog that sits on people’s knees, all 32kg of him, while you eat, no pressure.
Rule 3 – This is even more ridiculous. Ozzi thinks his place is on the couch, and will have a big sigh if you are taking up too much space. He even got his own couch for his first birthday for the room he goes in during the day when everyone is working (he has a dog walker).
Rule 4 – Yep, out the window. We quickly realised that Ozzi was a thief. He steals out of bins, laundry bags, the washing machine, the clothes horse, desks, wardrobes, shopping bags, pockets and handbags. Nothing is safe. I sometimes wonder if I am going to get done for shop lifting in pets at home as more often than not we are on our way out before we realise Ozzi has a toy in his mouth. We have lids on our bins, everything is in boxes or too high for him to reach and it still is a daily task chasing him around the house because he is a mad theif. You don’t dare leave anything valuable lying around, I had to say a sad goodbye to my expensive ring after he ate it and I had to hose his poo down for a week before I found it again, I couldn’t wear that again. He has grown out of the eating stage now, but he is still a mad thief. We now call it the treasure game, this is where Ozzi will go and find any bit of rubbish he can find and bring it to us to exchange for a treat. Not to mention that Ozzi has 5 ever expanding toy boxes around the house, one just for tennis balls and the rest overflowing with teddies.
Ozzi is 3 now and will be 4 on the 28th of May. Although every year has had a lot of hilarity and Ozzi’s antics every year has brought new challenges. In June 2014 I was rushed into hospital with meningitis, after a week in hospital they brought Ozzi to my window, he seemingly led my dad straight to my window, he just sat staring at me. In December 2014 I was taken into hospital with further neurological problems, again I had no feeling in my left side. I was moved to the Western General in Edinburgh and my dad used to smuggle Ozzi to the hospital entrance and my mum would bring me down in my wheelchair, he would jump up on my knee and just cuddle, Ozzi was the best motivation for me coming home. I always missed him so much and as soon as I would come home he would cuddle in so tightly and I would never want to leave him again. Towards the end of 2016 I started to have ongoing problems with seizures, my mum and dad told me how Ozzi would lick my hands and face during my seizures and lie down next to me until I came round or help arrived. At the start of 2017 I was diagnosed with Epilepsy. Ozzi sensed my seizures, I have one vivid memory of me taking him out for a walk, instead of running like he usually does he stayed by my side, guiding me home, when we were home he lay on top of me panting, I knew something was wrong and needed to get someone to come round, not even half an hour later I had a seizure. He still continues to warn me when there is a problem.
Ozzi lies in bed beside me on difficult days, some days he doesn’t even get up to go to the toilet until he is desperate because I am ill. He helps me through bad days with those big brown eyes that tell me I have a friend. There is something you get from the silent devoted companionship of your dog when you are in your darkest days that you never get from anyone else. Some days his dog walker arrives to pick him up, if I am home it is because I am unwell or on holiday, when I am on holiday he excitedly bounces out the door, when I am sick he runs back in the house and watches me until I tell him it is ok. Isn’t that amazing? He just knows.
Ozzi is a member of our family, who gets Christmas and birthday presents just as we do. He is invited to family and Christmas meals. Our foreign holidays are no more and we would rather settle for a week in a log cabin where our furry family member can come along too. My dad organises golden retriever dog walks for ‘his boy’ to meet up with his doggy friends. When my dad comes home from work he instantly melts to the floor in the living room to cuddle Ozzi, and Ozzi will happily lick his bald head, my dad said that’s why he is bald on top, because Ozzi licked all his hair off. My mum has a ‘treaty pocket’ in every coat, he gets a treat every time she leaves or comes back, she refills it every day to avoid his disappointment. Every time my mum goes to the shops she always brings back a bag of treats or a toy because she knows he will search the bag when she gets back and she hates him looking disappointed. When my Gran and Grandad come over they each have a little sandwich bag filled with two treats each, and they sometimes argue over who gives them to him first, and if they cook a chicken guess who always gets brought some round to put in his tea? My Gran and Grandad have also designated Wednesday afternoons for when they come over and spend the afternoon with their ‘only grandson’. Ozzi sits on the stairs when people are leaving our house, and he will give people a paw on their way out, and if he really loves them they get a kiss on the cheek. Everyone who visits our house is greeted a wagging tail and big cuddles, they also go home looking like a yeti because he is so hairy and it is not an option not to go near him. If Ozzi is unwell we all sit up worried all night, pampering him until his is well again.
I am so grateful that we have Ozzi and our lives will forever be changed by that silly, fluff ball puppy with giant paws and jaggy teeth. When I got Ozzi I had so many ideas of what he might be like, and he is that and so much more. My weekends will forever consist of trips to the beach or a walk in the woods to keep my boy happy. My nights will always be squished at the side of the bed because moving him would wake him up and I would hate for him to think I didn’t want him there. There will always be tumbleweed dog hair in the corners of the house and muddy paw prints on the carpet. My clothes will always be covered in dog hair and I will always have to hide my treasured belongings in fear of them being stolen. I will always leave the last bite of my food for him and not be home too late because I know he waits up for me. And I will always get excited at the front door when I know that he is waiting on the other side as excited as I am to see him.
I wonder if people without a dog understand, maybe you need to experience the unconditional love for a dog. The truth is that everyone thinks they have the best dog, and no one is wrong!
I could write about Ozzi all day but here he is, sitting by my side, looking at me because I haven’t paid him attention for the last hour as I have written this.
Katie & Ozzi’s chosen charity is http://petsastherapy.org/join-us/join-pat-dog/
Pets As Therapy is a national charity founded in 1983 by Lesley Scott-Ordish.
We enhance health and wellbeing in the community through the visits of trusted volunteers with their behaviourally assessed animals. We provide a visiting service in hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues all across the UK.
Our therapeutic visits:
- Enhance lives in our communities by providing companionship and friendship and helps to tackle loneliness.
- Improve the lives of people suffering from debilitating mental and physical health conditions and illnesses such as Autism, Dementia and Stroke by including animal assisted interventions as part of a holistic approach to treatment.
- Improve literacy in children by developing their confidence, interest and enjoyment in reading through our read2dogs scheme.
If you have any inspiring stories about your doggies, please let us know by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or just comment on this post,