A pampered pooch from a Romanian rescue has become top dog on the canine show circuit where he displays his “beautifully groomed buttocks” as he dances on his hind legs wearing one of his 100 bandanas bought with his £100 monthly clothing allowance.
Digital workplace implementation consultant Nessa Anderson, 32, who shares her home in Harwell, Oxfordshire, with Ari the white Italian Volpino and her husband Dave Anderson, 36, a business services manager, is so besotted with the pooch she has reduced her own spending on haircuts and clothes to pay for his wardrobe and grooming.
But Ari, who has 70 plus harnesses and an enviable array of fancy dress costumes ranging from Fred Flintstone to a cow costume, is worth it, according to Nessa, who said: “He is like a Duracell bunny – he just keeps going!
“He has honestly changed our lives and strengthened us and made our life so much happier.”
Ari was taken in by a Romanian rescue after being found kept outside on hard stones, fenced in by mesh and with no proper access to food or water.
He was adopted by Nessa and Dave after they moved to a new house in January 2021, which they were renovating, and met some of their new neighbours out walking their “two gorgeous dogs” which had been rescued from Romania.
Then, a few weeks later, Nessa saw one woman had posted a picture on Facebook of a dog from the charity Freedom Angels Romania and says it was “love at first sight.”
As the couple already had two ragdoll cats, Muffin and Munchkin, Dave was unsure about having a dog.
But Nessa could not forget that first sighting of Ari and wore him down until they applied to adopt and, after extensive checks, were accepted.
Within two weeks, Ari was on his way to his new home.
Nessa said: “I went to collect him, it was dark and raining and he was shaking and just leapt into my arms.
“He held on so tightly, clutching my shoulders with his legs around my waist.”
Despite needing a good wash and medication for an infected tick, within a day Nessa says he was “prancing around and smiling.”
She said: “He seemed so dazed at first, but by the end of the day he was a different dog.
“We let him out into the garden and he saw the grass and threw himself on it, legs in the air, living the dream.
“We connected instantly. By the end of the first day, he was dancing around the kitchen on his back legs with us.”
Aged three when they adopted him, the couple have been spoiling him rotten ever since, while his big personality soon made him a hit on the dog show circuit.
Nessa said: “We took him to his first show, the All About Dogs Show at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, for a bit of fun and to help with socialisation.
“But the moment he entered the ring, the performer in him came out and he started to strut and dance, with impeccable poise.
“To go from being this grubby, abandoned dog to being this prancing, smiling show pooch was incredible.”
She added: “He knows exactly how to play into the judges’ hands and he always has beautifully groomed buttocks!”
Now the proud owner of 25 awards, gained at his regular weekend appearances at dog shows across the country, Nessa said: “At his first show, he took to it like a fish to water and won Most Handsome.
“He just started winning rosettes straight away and always came within the top three for Most Handsome or Fabulous Fella or Best Rescue.
“Ari has at least 70 plus harnesses and probably 100 plus bandanas with different pompoms and trims.”
She added: “He has so much fancy dress now, too, so he can compete in all the fancy dress categories in the shows.
“Last weekend, he was dressed as Fred Flintstone and before that he had this amazing Pride outfit, in all the rainbow colours.
“We have also had matching outfits, where he dressed as a cow. Then I dressed as him dressed as a cow!
“But my favourite outfit for him has to be the zebra three piece and he absolutely loves it.”
She added: “I have a £100 monthly clothing allowance for him and have cut back on buying clothes for myself and haircuts, so he can be groomed and I can buy his outfits.”
Enjoying a wash and trim at his local doggy grooming parlour every six weeks, Ari loves to look his best.
Nessa said: “The first time he went to his lovely groomer at Bloomingtails, he came back grinning from ear to ear, with his tail wagging and smelling of Doggo Boss cologne – the dogs’ take on Hugo Boss!”
And his star quality has not gone unnoticed.
With a 4k following on Instagram, Ari has now become the representative for four doggy brands, producing dog accessories including collars, toys, and leads.
Nessa, who started documenting his adventures after a girl in a pub suggested making him an Instagram page, said: “Soon after, he got all these brand deals.
“He is always in the latest fashionable outfit now!”
And Ari celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in style.
Nessa said: “I bought him three different Jubilee-themed outfits to wear over the weekend.
“As country-bumpkins, we enjoyed some Jubilee-themed scarecrow trails, where he posed with straw Corgi’s.
“He had a Corgi bow, a really beautiful tasselled bandana with Jubilee themed teacups and Big Ben on it and another outfit patterned with big red London buses.”
Meanwhile, Ari has swiftly settled in to his new luxury lifestyle and has been known to throw a doggy sulk if he is refused his favourite titbits.
Nessa laughed: “He can be very sassy and very cheeky.
“He usually has his wet food, carrots and green beans, but he loves burgers and his favourite food is sausage and cheese.
“If we say no to him with any food, he will lie flat on the floor like a pancake and won’t move.”
But the couple adore their poochy pal and take him everywhere.
Nessa said: “Last year, for our first wedding anniversary in September, we took him dolphin watching on a boat in Weymouth, Dorset, which he absolutely loved.
“We also visited the Isle of White by ferry in August before the anniversary and stayed in a dog-friendly hotel, where he enjoyed a steam train ride too.
“His favourite thing is doing dog agility, though – jumping over things and walking along raised walls, up and down.”
Ari even has a girlfriend and sleeps on his bed above the bay window in the lounge next to a framed photo of her.
Nessa said: “Ari has a girlfriend called Lulu, one of our neighbour’s two dogs – who looks like a Jack Russell and Labrador mix. They were also rescued from Romania.
“Within a week of them meeting, they shared their first kiss and now they are inseparable.”
The benefits of having Ari have been immeasurable, according to Nessa.
She said: “I have struggled with anxiety and depression for many years and Ari has just been brilliant.”
Nessa added: “He completely and utterly helps me relax and chill out.
“Going for walks with him helps me so much and it has also helped my relationship with Dave.
“We have always been good but now, we are planning more time together and we are chatting more and going out walking together more.”
The couple are also preparing to become foster carers in the next few weeks and are hoping that Ari will be a big help when it comes to settling the children in.
Nessa said: “We have wanted to foster for a long time and Ari is brilliant with children.
“We’ve just been signed off and approved, so we’re just waiting for our first placement and we’re hoping that young people who have experienced stress and trauma and are looking for a loving home will find that having a dog like Ari, who is so attentive and loving, will make a big difference.”
Nessa is also preparing for a big bash to celebrate Ari’s fifth birthday on August 28.
She said: “For his fourth birthday we hired this lovely dog park for a party, where the dogs can run off their leads and do agility.”
Nessa added: “There was party food, cake, and Ari enjoyed the Pringles and cocktail sausages.
“Then, in the evening, he crashed in the snug and watched 101 Dalmatians.
“This year, he will have another party at a dog park or our back garden with presents and a ball pit and a doggy peanut butter cake.
“He has to be the most pampered rescue pooch in town!”
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