Tag Archives: Andrew Cotter

Mike’s winning story

After interviewing Andrew Cotter for his book, our local independent bookseller, Scorpio Books, agreed to work with me to sponsor a competition to win a copy of the book. People entering the competition were asked to tell me about the love they have for their dogs (because Andrew’s book is all about his bond and love for Olive and Mabel).

This is Mike’s winning entry.

Loved the article on Andrew Cotter in NZ Dog World and decided to tell
you about my life’s journey with an incredible pack/mixture of dogs over
the last 76 years.

On my 10th birthday in England my parents gave me an Irish Setter puppy
(Shamus) who was just mine until I emigrated to NZ in 1956 and went
shepherding on a 7,000 acre back country block near Gisborne. I managed
to buy a Border Collie heading dog (Star) and a Huntaway (Mate) who
taught me all about mustering and how to handle stock.

A six year period on oil exploration in Africa and the Middle East saw me rescue a terrier
cross (Remus) from SPCA in Mombasa who was with me for 4 years.
Returning to NZ shepherding saw a succession of wonderful working dogs
until I was priested in 1984 – but still managed to rescue a German
Shepherd who fitted in well with my new wife’s Cavalier King Charles!!

Retiring from the church in 1996 we were given a Border Collie bitch by
a friend moving overseas to help on our small 13 acre block. Discovering
she was pedigree we started breeding which we did until our last bitch
died in 2020. In 1999 my wife and I started competing with our Border
Collies in Championship Obedience and had a run of wonderful dogs but in
2015 having had a little health problem decided it was time to retire my
two old competition dogs. A year later I was offered a pup to rear and
train for a friend and believing it would be my last dog called him Mate
in memory of my first huntaway but not wanting to waste his talent
started competing again – his first 3 shows gave us 1st,2nd and 1st!.

In 2019 Mate got very ill with an auto immune sickness and thinking we may
lose him and having got back into competition decided to accept a pup
from a friend I had done some breeding with. Again believing this would
be my last dog (I had just had my 85th birthday!) I called this little
girl Star again in memory of my first working Border Collie. Last week
we went to a Champ show and in her first outing aged 14 months Star
achieved 2nd place in Novice while Mate won his Test B. Getting out each
day to play and work and compete with my kids seems to keep me
reasonably fit aged 86 and the gift I have been given with my wonderful
hairy mates has been a blessing and a gift all my life.

Mate and Star

Olive, Mabel & Me – book review

It seems fitting that, on the eve of March 2021 – one year to the month since the world and our lives became dominated by Covid-19, I have finished reading Olive, Mabel & Me (Life and Adventures with Two Very Good Dogs) by Andrew Cotter.

If you’re a dog lover, you must know about Mr Cotter by now and the narrated antics of his black Labrador, Olive, and her little sister, yellow Labrador Mabel which entertained many of us while we were locked down (with new videos still being shared). What started as a bit of a laugh, a sports commentator with nothing to comment on but his dogs, The Dog’s Breakfast Grand Final became an Internet sensation thanks to a video uploaded on Twitter which went viral. The public demanded more videos and Mr Cotter obliged with Game of Bones….and the list goes on.

Thankfully, while this book talks about the videos and the circumstances of their production, it goes beyond that to talk more deeply about Andrew’s life with his dogs (and a period when he was also dog-less thanks to career demands). We see pictures of a much-younger Andrew with his family dogs, for example. Andrew loves the mountains and takes his dogs with him on long walks in all seasons while his partner, Caroline, usually remains at home.

Olive and Mabel have contributed in their own words The Foreward to the book, but the rest is all Andrew.

Andrew has written this book as if he were sitting in our lounge talking to us directly. I could hear his voice as I read the pages of his words which share tales of his life with his dogs and his wit, more generally.

Some examples:

  • On Labradors: “A Labrador is a velvet cushion in animal form – short coat, perfect domed head and ears made from the softest material known to man, woman or beast. As if created for therapy and designed for stroking.
  • On Walkkies: “Let’s get one thing straight. Dogs are happy with any walks. Through the lofty pine trees of Yosemite or down a filthy inner-city pavement – it’s all good.
  • On the Vets – a chapter entitled “The Place That Shall Not Be Named
  • On staying in a dog-friendly hotel: “Unable to leave them alone, I was restricted to a room-service dinner, with both dogs agreeing that it was quite the most brilliant thing in the world that food should simply appear – but only after the poor member of staff who had knocked on the door was forced to hear what Olive thought about his mother.
  • On seeing a dog in Tokyo: “Once when out for a jog in Yoyogi Park, near where we were staying in Tokyo, I saw a dog – not running around, catching a frisbee, chewing on a stick or sniffing other dogs. Rather, this proud and noble descendant of the wolf was being pushed around in a buggy while wearing a Superman costume. Everyone there who saw it seemed to consider it perfectly normal behaviour, while the dog itself looked as royally pissed off as you might imagine. Perhaps he had really wanted to be Spider-Man.

Because I want you to buy this book, I’m going to leave it to you to find the passage in the book which deals with the topic of pulling grass out of your dog’s bottom…we’ve all been there, haven’t we?

I don’t follow sports and so even though I live in a country which regularly carries broadcasts of the BBC, I would never have heard Andrew Cotter if it wasn’t for his work with Olive and Mabel. And I am truly grateful for the humour he shared when I (and many of us) most needed it. Buy this book and reward Mr Cotter for his talents. You’ll be rewarded because it’s really an excellent and entertaining read.

I’ll leave the final words to Andrew:

“The power of love for dogs is a curious thing. The connection you have with these creatures is so very strong and one that can’t really be explained to those who don’t share it. But there are millions of people who do. Not that I didn’t know it already, but the whole success of Olive and Mabel has shown me just how far-reaching that love for dogs is.


Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand