Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Walking Ollie

by Stephen Foster, 177 pages

Another dog memoir along the same lines as Marley and me, but set in England. Foster describes his rescue of a lurcher (sighthound mix, in this case, a Saluki) and the resultant mayhem this leggy puppy brings into his household. Ollie is a nervous wreck and impossible to control. Foster doesn't pull any punches, and I was sometimes horrified with his methods and Ollie's wildness. Foster has a lot to learn about owning a freakishly fast dog, and there are some dark moments before Foster and Ollie come to a loving (though still stressful at times) relationship. Still I had an optimistic feeling at the end of the book--there was definitely hope for Stephen and Ollie.

So when I went to find a cover image for this blog post, I was heartbroken to learn that Ollie had to be put to sleep when he got bone cancer a few years ago. By the time I listened to his story, he was already dead! I got all teary as I read Stephen's blog about Ollie's diagnosis. He tried so hard to keep Ollie well, but osteosarcoma is lethal and all too common in large sighthounds. Ollie didn't stand much of a chance, and Stephen would not let him suffer. I realized that around the same time our greyhound Rocket was diagnosed with bone cancer, and even though he was operated on and the tumor hopefully excised, we lost him the next year. (see above picture, right) So I could actually say I felt Stephen's loss.

Someone posted this poem on Stephen's blog:

Epitaph to a Dog by Sir William Watson

His friends he loved.
His fellest earthly foes–
Cats–I believe he did but feign to hate.
My hand will miss the insinuated nose,
Mine eyes that tail that wagged contempt at Fate.

Westu hal, Ollie!

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