Leo + Olive

Small Dog Steals the Heart of Big Dog Lover

Leo + Olive

Small dogs I encountered on the walking trail were always fuming with “little dog attitude.” To me, small dogs were yappy, attention-seeking, purse-riding, ankle-biters who would rather pee in the house than be drizzled by a raindrop or struck by a snowflake. As frequent companions of senior citizens willing to risk hip fractures, small dogs ruled the house with paws that rarely touched the ground.

"I never had a small dog.  I never wanted one."

That wasn’t me. I had “real” dogs, like German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers and Great Danes.

One Saturday afternoon my wife returned from walking dogs at the animal shelter, which she did every weekend, with a little brown dog that was shaking like a bowl of jello. My jaw dropped. Who was this interloper?

The tiny new shelter arrival had just been separated from her pups and was in a kennel surrounded by large barking dogs. So distraught, she stayed plastered to the back of her cage and wouldn’t eat or go to the bathroom. My wife brought her home for the night to see if she could get her to eat.

My wife and “Olive” traveled between home and the shelter over the next couple of weeks, but there were no takers. We walked her with an “Adopt Me” vest twice daily. The only potential adopter wanted her to kill groundhogs in his yard. That was all I needed to hear. I wasn’t letting her go.


Every misconception I ever had about small dogs shattered one by one. At home, Olive never had an accident. She slept in her crate quietly, and never begged or cried. When it got cold, she wore her coat dutifully. When her feet froze in the snow, she donned booties without complaint.

She never balks on walks regardless of the distance or weather. We limited ourselves to six miles, but Olive could easily do double if I let her. She’s a 2011 model with more than 6,500 miles under her taut little belt so far. She barks, when necessary, at visitors or other dogs. My wife insists she stay off the furniture, but I insisted that my lap is not furniture.


The last rule my wife had was no dogs in bed. But I found I could hide this little brown dog in the folds of my quilt. As my new ambassador for all dogs small, turns out, Olive, a 13-pound powerhouse is a real dog who’s made a huge impact on me. She’s our welcome waggin’, floor cleaner, benevolent bedbug, morning alarm clock, fitness coach and my favorite “show” to watch.

I admit to being smitten by this little brown dog. Olive changed my mind about small dogs.

Each year, the Petco Love invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Leo Kennedy won Angel Ridge Animal Rescue in Meadowlands, Pennsylvania a 2016 Holiday Wishes award.