A little over three years ago, at the age of three, Ollie Lister from Banbury was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukaemia.
The diagnosis came shortly after Ollie’s mum, Becky Cage, had finally adopted a pet dog Ollie had been craving. That decision has proved more beneficial than anyone could have imagined.
Ollie had to undergo extensive chemotherapy and it was Snoopy the cockapoo, now four years old, that has been a constant friend throughout, to such an extent that the pair have been chosen as the Child’s Hero finalist of this year’s Friends for Life competition, organised by the Kennel Club.
Becky said: “Ollie’s been in isolation for three-and-half-years on and off.
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“Quite often, it’s just us on our own at home and Snoopy’s been a sense of fun and normality.
“Ollie’s been very self-conscious when he went out, he didn’t want people to look at him when he’s in his wheelchair. He overcame that because he knew that Snoopy needed to go out for a walk and people were looking at Snoopy and not Ollie.
“He’s given us a sense of fun and normality on what has been a horrible time.
“Snoopy’s a bundle of fun. He’s very excited, loves people and doesn’t like being on his own.
“Wherever we are, he will follow us, and I think that’s what’s nice for Ollie. I didn’t feel bad leaving the room knowing Snoopy was there with Ollie, watching over him.
She added: “He’s just brought happiness to us as well as a lot of support for Ollie.”
The Friends for Life competition aims to celebrate and share amazing stories of how dogs can enhance our lives.
Ollie, Becky and Snoopy will be in attendance at Crufts, taking place between March 7 to 10, as the overall winner is announced in the NEC arena.
Runners-up will each receive £1,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for their nominated canine charity.
Becky said: “To go is part of our wildest dreams really, Ollie has always said that he wanted to take Snoopy to Crufts and now here we are.
“I think it will mean a lot to him and a thank-you to Snoopy for always being there no matter what.
“Snoopy and Ollie are definitely up for going on TV at Crufts.
“Ollie likes to show off Snoopy; he’s taught him a few tricks.
“It would be totally amazing to win. It’s been such a long journey – three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy has been tough on all of us, especially on Ollie and it will be great to have a happy ending.”
Ollie’s chemotherapy treatment has now been concluded and Ollie is looking to the future.
Becky said: “Ollie has finished treatment, he’s being closely monitored by the hospital, but winning would be the icing on the cake.”