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Ollie memorial piece in Saturday’s Times.

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  1. Winfred Peppinck says:

    Dear Stephen,
    I read your piece in The Times about losing a pet, and it moved me to tears – for I felt your anguish at losing a friend. Last year, I wrote my own book about a rescue dog, the Diplomatic Dog of Barbados – DD for short – his early struggle for existence and then coming to the hi-jinx of diplomatic life. We brought him with us to Bahrain in 2004 and then in May, we took him to the vet because he was off his food. They ‘opened him up’ and found cancer. It was a sunny day, there was no forwarning, we never said a proper goodbye, for we decided to have him put to sleep then and there. They gave him another 10 weeks but we just couldn’t do it. I wrote a piece called “Our Dog Died Yesterday” but I STILL cannot read it without tears forming. Dogs have a way of going straight to the crotch or the bum-cheeks, but also to the heart, and like your Ollie, our DD surely did. I tried to ‘rationalize the proportionality’ as at the same time thousands had died in a cyclone in Burma and thousands more in an earthquake in China. And here we were, crying about a dog! Like your story, mine too touched friends with tears. Are we such a weak lot, we humans, or are we gifted to recognize the pure love that a dog gives? I’d like to think it is the latter. Thanks again for your piece, I will be sure to get the book.
    Kind regards
    Winfred Peppinck
    Bahrain

  2. andy Carroll says:

    Dear Stephen and Trezza,

    I’ve just been passed your excellent Times article to read by my wife, it’s a wonderful but very moving piece. We have been owners of Lurchers since 1981, we started with one, Gibson, who we thought was the best dog anyone could have wished to own, but we rescued another too. Jasper was equally full of character, then came Gala. Gala “married” Jasper and along came seven pups… We still have the last of those pups, Griffon, although she is now a grand old lady. We made the positive decision that if a dearly loved dog died we would then re-home a rescue Lurcher and give them a chance. We have found this not only takes away some of the hurt of losing a family dog – without diminishing the memory but also starts a rewarding experience which is beneficial to both parties! As I write this we have a four year old retired greyhound and a 12 week old wrecking machine of a Lurcher pup kipping on the sofa under the watchful eye of our other rescue Lurcher Roger (they come with names…) and old Griffon. In the garden we have our own version of a Commonwealth War Cemetary with seven neat headstones in ranks. We lost our beautiful dog Krissie a few weeks ago in very tragic circumstances but we have honoured her memory by homing these others. In fact the 12 week old pup is her spirit returned, a born thief and a bundle of fun. My humble advice to you would be to contact one of the many Lurcher Rescues in the UK (we go to The Celia Cross Greyhond Trust near Guildford) and give another dog the love it deserves. Good Luck. Andy Carroll, Surrey

  3. Stephen Foster says:

    Thanks Winifred and thanks Andy, that ‘not proper goodbye’ does not sound nice Winifred, though to be honest counting down the days to the appointment at the vet is nothing to look forward to either. I did at least take Ollie up the beach one last time, but that was a bitter sweet episode as I couldn’t let him off.

    Roger :-)) Yes they do come with names, Ollie was Ernie to start with, but he was young and foolish enough not to know it…

    There will be another lurcher-type in due course (Dylan is used to a two dog family) almost certainly a rescue: at the moment I am imagining, in a hippy-way, that the relevant animal will ‘cross our path…’

  4. OS says:

    “I tried to ‘rationalize the proportionality’ as at the same time thousands had died in a cyclone in Burma and thousands more in an earthquake in China. And here we were, crying about a dog!”

    Nowt wrong with that, Winfred, your own dog is part way to being like your own child and why shouldn’t you feel deep despair when you lose one? It doesn’t stop you also feeling deep sadness for those affected by the other events. It’s what decent human beings do. Your proportionality was not wrong. We can’t help putting those beings/creatures we love dearly before those who are casual to our existence.

    Foster, boy, it was an excellent article. I’m dreading the next part of your doggy development. Having met both Ollie and Dylan, I fully expect you and Trezza to come strolling in with a new doggie version of Philip next time you venture to the kennels. 🙂

    Oldstokie.

  5. Mary Kingcome says:

    Dear Stephen

    I too was moved by your touching article about Ollie and am very sorry to hear that he has been put to sleep. He was a lovely looking dog and obviously full of character. 20 months ago we took on a rescue dog (greyhound staffie cross) and a kind friend gave us a copy of your book, Walking Ollie. We loved it. In October following a run on the beach Tilly, also 6, became lame and we have been told it could be bone cancer or tendonitis. We must just wait. Hope Dylan is ok and that he soon has another pal.

  6. Dr Frances Latcham says:

    Dear Stephen,
    Like many people your memories of Ollie moved me to tears. 6 years ago we found a lurcher in the garden on a frosty boxing day, bedraggled and thin. She came in and sat by the Aga and stayed. We tried of course to find owners but luckily no replies. We called her Portia and she was beautiful. If you reply I would like to send a photo. She developed an extraosseous osteosarcoma in a mammary gland and the vet predicted 12 weeks-they were right and we watched her slowly become unable to manage ditches. Before she died we got another lurcher from the internet from Hatfield house. She was 3 years old and equally beautiful. They were very wary of each other to begin with but became great friends towards Portia’s end and went rabbitting together. Lottie gave Portia a whole new lease of life. Like you Portia was ‘put-down’ in our arms but at home with the whole family present and my husband distraught buried her in the garden, where she now lies beneath a magnificent head-stone. Lottie has been a huge comfort but we still miss Portia. It still amazes me how a dog can take over your life and heart. Neither dog ever barked! and both had/have the most gentle nature except when chasing quarry. I would never consider any other breed and we are desperately looking for another companion for Lottie. Your picture of Oliie in the Times is lovely.

  7. Ron Phippen says:

    Quite gobsmacked to open my Times insert this AM and read of you and Ollie. A wonderful and moving article, made more poignant as I had the great fortune to meet Ollie and I am so very sorry for your, Trezza’s & J’s loss. Even from those few meetings I hope I know how much he was loved. SCFC Live on the box at your place will never be the same again.

  8. Stephen Foster says:

    Blimey Ron, that must have been weird for you … there is not much ‘on the box’ at the moment as we are on tour with the live home & away most of the time. Thanks for those kind words mate, and likewise to one and all.

    Fingers crossed for Tilly x

  9. Olivia Thomas says:

    I have just read your piece in the Times and am sitting in tears thinking about my beloved cat Ellie who died very suddenly of leukaemia in March 2007. Like you, I held her while she was put to sleep, and despite her feline replacements I miss her terribly. Thank you for being the thing that reminds me of her today. So sorry for your loss of Ollie – I know people who don’t have pets think we’re all nutters, but Ellie was part of our family. Hope Dylan is getting over losing his friend.

  10. Stephen Brook says:

    Dear Stephen

    There will have been many wet cheeks on Saturday, like mine, and many more than have written here. I inherited my Shep-like rescue dog two years ago when my mother died. Fred is a venerable 15, a loving, if needy friend. Just over two weeks ago he had a stroke, and was reduced to a terrible state, eyes flickering, back end paralysed, and his future looked short. I was in bits, not only at the prospect of losing my loving friend, but also the last link to my mum. Now, after a lot of TLC, patience, quite a bit of falling over, and with the help of some vascular expanding drugs, and Superdog is back! Unbelievably he is as good as ever, certainly energetic and bouncy. I know that he won’t live forever, but I am so happy at the prospect of being able to enjoy as many more walks in Bushy Park as there may be, even in the Stygian gloom, and his insistence that the forthcoming treat is deserved. Yes, I know that we pet owners are funny folk, but I make no apology for being sensitive, and I reckon that Oldstokie is spot on about proportionality.

  11. Dinah Barker says:

    Dear Stephen,
    I was so upset to read in The Times that you had to have your poor Ollie put down at such a young age. You and Trezza must be devastated.
    I read your book and having read the article, my husband also wishes to read it.
    We have an identical lurcher to Ollie but a female, called Cali. We rescued her at about 6/9 months from the RSPCA. To begin with I wondered what I had done, she had such a problem with separation anxiety that I couldn’t leave her. Two days after getting her, I ventured out and on my return, discovered the two front doors open – she had let herself out! Fortunately she hadn’t gone far but my life was not my own for some time after. She is fine now and has a companion, Hattie, a jack russell x westie. I still spend many hours waiting for her to decide to return to us on walks. We adore her.
    My daughter lives in Norwich and we sometimes visit, so, if you should see us around please come and say hello.
    Good luck with whoever is lucky enough to join your family and thank you for letting us enjoy your adventures.

  12. Carl Yallop says:

    When you have walked on the pitch and putt with Ollie and Dylan it seems even more sad. Jasper [the naughty black lab of Angela fame} is ready to mix it with Dylan anytime. Regards. Carl Sylvia and Jasper

  13. Stephen Foster says:

    Thanks Olivia, Stephen, and Dinah (there are one or two Ollies about by all accounts!); Hi Carl – he saw a few of the gang last night, and that new girl Daisy, who he seems to like…

    all best, S

  14. Nicola Mills says:

    Hi Stephen, Trezza. I met you in the vets a few weeks ago when you were on one of your last visits with Ollie. I told you how much I enjoyed reading your book. When you told me Ollie really wasn’t very well-I didn’t realise just what you were going through. Nothing can prepare you for the pain of losing a pet, however preapared you are for it.
    I am just reading Along Came Dylan and am really enjoying it. I am so glad that he will be getting a new companion-nothing heals the wounds left by losing a doggy friend , but a new family member is a wonderful distraction. My best wishes to you both, Nicola.

  15. Stephen Foster says:

    Yes, I remember that Nicola, I think by that time we knew really – it was just before I took him up to Fakenham for the definitive set of x-rays. Thanks for dropping by, all best wishes, S

  16. Patty Gross says:

    Dear Stephen,
    I had a rescue Ridgeback/Lab mix for 8 years. He was three when we found him. How he had been mistreated was atrocious. But we nursed him to health, and fell in love with him and vice versa. One evening in June 2008, he suddenly and very unexpectedly died in my husband’s arms. Ridge’s vet lives just down the road from our cottage in the woods of Maine. We drove him there, and the vet told us that Ridge was dying. He had a mass on his spleen which had ruptured. I am a nature photographer, and Ridge went everywhere with me….he was my “little boy.” After six weeks of crying and sobbing, we decided the cottage had become a tomb. So we drove to NY to pick up a dog we saw on the internet. She turned out to be a lurcher. A Greyhound/Ridgeback mix. Drzl (Drizzle) is WONDERFUL. She is a gorgeous red brindle who roos like a grey, lies on her back (cockroaching), runs 35 mph, and is such a treasure and a real smartie. Of course we still miss Ridge terribly (I still have my crying spells and have not been able to visit “Ridge’s Field” again to this day.)

    Anyway, I really wanted to tell you how sincerely sorry I am about Ollie. My heart truly aches for you and Trezza. There are no words, only time. I just finished reading Along Came Dylan today, and had read Walking Ollie when it first came out. You are a brilliant writer! It’s quite a gift with which you’ve been blessed. Although I live in Maine in the woods on the shore, my sister has lived in Poole for 30 years now, and it was she who first introduced me to your books. I am looking forward to reading everything you write.

    Well, I have certainly rambled on here, and I thank you so much for the opportunity to tell about my boy, Ridge, and to offer my deepest sympathies on Ollie’s passing.

    Fond Regards,
    Patty

  17. Stephen Foster says:

    Thanks Patty that is so kind. Maine, I love that word, like all the best American place-names, it manages to be evocative in a way I cannot really understand. Am off to have a look at your website right now…

    Okay, I have had a look, they are really great, if I lift one to a blog post, which I will, I’ll buy a copy. I like Zoom particularly, at the moment. We took a train through New England once, from Boston to New York on a snowed up Sunday when the weather people were on red alert advising that it was ‘ten to twelve!’ (Logan was closed). It was my favourite ever train journey.

    all best, S

  18. Patty Gross says:

    Well, I am certainly very flattered that you would enjoy my photo. In the summer months here along the coast I’ve had a few exhibits which went well, but I have “miles to go” before I will ever be considered any sort of reputable photographer. Which is fine, as I simply love snapping shots of scenes I find interesting in some way.

    Yes, it is a hardy lot here in Maine. We’re under the old weather axe right now it seems. Takes a bit of stiff upper lip and lots of layers of warm clothes to venture out this time of year. Drzl has a warm sheep lined coat, so she’s fine.

    So glad to hear you enjoyed the train ride to NY on that snowy Sunday! (Logan is frequently closed in winter.)

    Kind Wishes,
    P

  19. Stacy says:

    Dear Stephen,
    My wife and i are serial collectors of rescue lurchers and for my birthday this October,as usual not knowing what to buy me,she bought me “along came Dylan”. Our family holiday in Florida that October was filled with high speed disney thrills,hot sun and then a cold glass of rose and my new book. I couldn’t put it down and drew so many parallels with your trials and tribulations in lurcher compaionship (you never really own them!).
    Our first lurcher (well he was suppossed to be whippet but his head grew to big for the breeder) was a gentle , reclusive dog that believed all humans were below him UNTIL he saw a rabbit,squirrel,fox,hare,goose,swan etc then his whole body began to quiver before he disappered over the hills in pursuit. When he eventually returned JAZZ would wag his tail as if job well done then return to his place shadowing us as we walked,trying hard not to be noticed.
    LADY a pharaoh/greyhound was collected from the local pound to engage JAZZ and “bring him out of himself”. What she did do was take over,shes a queen and knows it. They did bond and lived many years together,visiting the same beaches that you vividly describe, and when JAZZ succumbed to nasal cancer she seemed lost and bewildered ,as my wife and i were. Then along came WIZZ,a 5 week old silver brindle whippet/collie cross,one of only 5 survivors from a litter of 12 that were eaten by other dogs when their starving mother went looking for food. LADY hated him,whenever he came near she nipped him,growled at him and given the chance would throttle him,he never gave up and wore the old girl down and now at a grand old 15 years of age LADY,selectedly deaf and usually asleep,loves the upstart and will even share her bed with him.

    i’m not usually to be found typing away on the computer but am presently half way through “walking ollie” and thought that i’d “look you up” on the internet. Triumph at finding your blog quickly turned to sadness finding that Ollie had passed away so recently. .

    our fondest wishes to you both

    Deb and Stace

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