Sometimes blogs should carry warnings. Last Saturday I was catching up with my blog reading, and was working my way through my “favourites”. I was bemoaning the fact that one dog blog I regularly read hasn’t been updated since mid-October, while I opened the next blog, which was Stephen Foster’s. (http://walkingollie.wordpress.com/) I found myself looking at a post titled Leaving Ollie, and immediately alarm bells rang.
There was a beautiful photo of Ollie which accompanied the post, which within seconds I couldn’t see as my eyes filled with tears. Now, you’ll know by now if you’ve read my blog before that I am a bit of a softy where dogs are concerned, but I feel these tears were justified.
Poor Ollie, at only six years of age, had been put to sleep, suffering from cancer. Ollie had inspired Stephen to write Walking Ollie, and when Saluki Dylan joined the household, Stephen wrote another book, Along Came Dylan.
I interviewed Stephen, and you can hear the interview in Episode 77 of DogCast Radio. I remember thinking how lovely it was to interview an author whose source of inspiration was still alive. Much as I have adored books that tell a dog’s entire life story, it was a refreshing change to the canine hero was still alive, and hopefully getting up to similar antics to ones I had read about.
I don’t know why, perhaps because Ollie was the same age as my dog, or perhaps because Stephen was such a charming man, but for some reason Ollie’s passing upset me deeply. I was also worried, because I realised that I had notified Stephen that his interview was in the latest episode after Ollie had died. If I had been aware of his death I would have dealt with the situation very differently, and would have given Stephen the option of delaying or retracting the interview.
I wish Stephen, Trezza and of course Dylan, as much peace as possible as they come to terms with the loss of Ollie. Time does dull the raw pain into an ache that you can live with. But a glimpse of a photo years after the passing of a beloved dog can cause a brief reopening of the wound.
Stephen’s books about his dogs are written with great humour and honesty, and dog owners will recognise and empathise with many aspects of canine caretaking that are portrayed. If you’re searching for a Christmas present for a dog lover, visit a bookshop or buy online and your gift will be appreciated.
Ollie loved the beach, so Stephen took him to visit the coast as much as possible. There, at first alone, and then accompanied by Dylan, he would run to his hearts content. That’s how I’d like to think of him now – on a beach somewhere, happy, free from pain, and running free.