Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - TYLER MEARS Re­porter [email protected]­

YOU might re­mem­ber Ol­lie, the ad­ven­tur­ous pooch who was given up by his heart­bro­ken own­ers af­ter climb­ing onto their roof last year. The nine-stone Pyre­nean moun­tain dog often found him­self in the dog­house due to his “es­cape artist” an­tics. Huw and Loretta Evans, from Pon­tar­dawe near Swansea, ad­mit­ted they weren’t able to leave him for more than half an hour with­out him dis­ap­pear­ing in the hunt for ad­ven­ture.

Fire­fight­ers were even called to their home when Ol­lie man­aged to squeeze out of the loft win­dow – and got stuck on the roof of their three­storey town­house.

His ex­as­per­ated own­ers even­tu­ally made the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to hand him over to the Dogs Trust char­ity cen­tre in Brid­gend in the hope of find­ing him a new for­ever home.

Luck­ily, that new owner came in the form of an­i­mal lover Paula Hee­ley from Bridg­wa­ter in Som­er­set, who adopted him not long af­ter he was taken to the Dogs Trust cen­tre.

And 53-year-old Paula – who also cares for four res­cue cats and an exrace horse – says Ol­lie is do­ing bet­ter than ever.

Pic­tures show him look­ing fit, healthy and happy, although the sixyear-old pooch hasn’t lost his thirst for ad­ven­ture.

Ol­lie’s size and na­ture means he’s be­come some­thing of a celebrity in his lo­cal vil­lage, mak­ing a num­ber of friends among lo­cal res­i­dents, chil­dren and even other dogs.

But he’s also be­come a star in his own right, even ap­pear­ing in a tele­vi­sion ad­vert for the dog food brand

Paula says he’s changed their lives. “We lost our Labrador around 10 years ago, and be­cause we were both work­ing at the time we didn’t re­ally have time to have an­other dog,” Paula said.

“But, then I stopped work­ing away and started to work part time from home – and thought, shall we get an­other dog?

“We al­ready had four res­cue cats, so I de­cided I wanted to look for a res­cue dog.”

Paula started to trawl adop­tion pages, brows­ing through the Dogs Trust web­site – an an­i­mal wel­fare char­ity and hu­mane so­ci­ety in the United King­dom which spe­cialises in the well­be­ing of dogs.

“I was look­ing through the new ar­rivals and Ol­lie caught my eye. He’s gor­geous. It was love at first sight.

“You don’t usu­ally see Pyre­nean moun­tain dogs at res­cue cen­tres, but I grew up with one as a child so I said to my hus­band: ‘We have to go and see him!’

“He was un­con­vinced at the time that we needed a dog as big as that.

“But, as soon as we went to see Ol­lie I knew he was go­ing to be com­ing home with me.”

It was Paula’s child­hood ex­pe­ri­ence with the breed that pro­vided her with the tools, pa­tience and un­der­stand­ing needed to train and care for Ol­lie, and the pair have since be­come firm friends.

“Pyre­nean Moun­tain Dogs are unique be­cause they are roamers by na­ture. But it didn’t put me off at all – I com­pletely un­der­stand their na­ture and I did my re­search.

“Your best friend will al­ways be a very long lead.”

And what about size?

“It’s sur­pris­ing how much these dogs can squeeze into very small spa­ces. Ol­lie squeezes onto the sofa with two other peo­ple. Ol­lie’s gi­gan­tic

“Although, I’m lucky be­cause I do have a fairly large house – well, big enough for the dog any­way.

“He can be strong, but he’s an ex­tremely friendly boy. If there are dogs he’s not too keen on, he does go into full-on bear mode. And he’s got a re­ally deep and loud bark. They are guardian dogs by na­ture.”

The Pyre­nean boasts an an­cient and dis­tin­guished ances­try that dates back to the Bronze Age.

Na­tive to the Pyre­nean moun­tain range on the bor­der of France and Spain, they were used to to guard live­stock and would roam the hill­sides mak­ing sure there were no preda­tors or dan­gers. They are also ex­tremely in­tel­li­gent, as Paula ex­plains: “Ol­lie is very clever.

“He’s quite happy to open the door han­dle – he’s a big dog, so he lifts his paw to move the han­dle and goes out­side. He lets him­self into the gar­den quite eas­ily. He’s a cheeky chappy.

“One of his favourite things to do is run across the lawn and go head first into a for­wards roll. He tum­bles across the lawn like a lit­tle puppy. It’s a joy to see, be­cause it means he’s happy.

“He’s a very sweet and happy dog. He loves peo­ple and peo­ple love him.

“Thanks to him, I now know ev­ery­one in the vil­lage. Walks take a very long time – be­cause ev­ery­one keeps stop­ping to say hi.

“I re­mem­ber one day, we were walk­ing down the drive onto the road, and a lit­tle girl stopped and said to her grand­mother: ‘Look, Nan, it’s a po­lar bear!’

“Chil­dren often stop to pet and hug him and he’s won­der­ful with kids. That’s his guardian na­ture com­ing through.”

Such is Ol­lie’s guardian-like na­ture, that he’s even helped to re­ha­bil­i­tate an­other lo­cal res­cue dog, who was adopted by one of Paula’s friends.

“He’s got loads of dog friends, who all go walk­ing to­gether and come around to do play dates. But, Ol­lie’s also helped to re­ha­bil­i­tate an­other lo­cal dog – who was res­cued from Ro­ma­nia. The poor dog was ter­ri­fied of her own shadow and would bark out of fear. But Ol­lie wasn’t both­ered, so we walked to­gether and they be­came firm friends. It was a lovely love story.”

Paula added: “Need­less to say we just adore him, he is a very spe­cial boy and we are so grate­ful to Dogs Trust Brid­gend for giv­ing us the op­por­tu­nity to be his for­ever fam­ily.”


Ol­lie the Pyre­nean Moun­tain Dog has new own­ers af­ter be­ing given to the Dogs Trust in Brid­gend and, left, on the roof of his pre­vi­ous home

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