Dog and hedgehog become friends to help their owner with anxiety

Olive and Rosie cuddling (PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)
Olive and Rosie cuddling (Picture: PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)
Rosie the dog and Olive the hedgehog might seem like unlikely friends but the pair are inseparable They’ve become Instagram stars after owner physiotherapy assistant Victoria Wright, 28, who first adopted Welsh terrier mix pooch Rosie from a local shelter in April 2014, brought African pygmy hedgehog, Olive, home in July this year. Now they love to play and snuggle up together and together they have support Victoria with her own problems with anxiety , which had become so bad she was afraid to leave the house.

She said: ‘Rosie had a really tough beginning. She was found as a stray in a bad way. She had barely any fur on her ears and scarring on her nose.

‘She was in the shelter for months before I found her. Hearing that gutted me – it was heartbreaking to feel like nobody wanted her.

‘But when I saw her, I loved her right away. Her and Olive are great with each other, too.

‘Olive may be tiny, but she rules the roost.’

When Rosie first came home in April 2014, professionals told Victoria she was so nervous she might never be able to mix with other dogs.

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But Victoria started slowly encouraging her to come out of her shell.

Victoria said: ‘The first time I took her for a proper walk was such a big thing. She is still very nervous, but is so friendly and absolutely loves playing.

‘When she sees her dog friends, she gets absolutely ecstatic.’

Olive and Rosie (PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)
Olive and Rosie (Picture: PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)

And last year, the lifelong fan of hedgehogs decided one to add another pet to her little family.

She added: ‘I found one up for adoption locally, as the owner could no longer take care of it. I’ve always loved hedgehogs so I jumped at the chance.

‘I was a little bit worried about how Rosie would be around my new addition, but I figured that I could keep them apart if needed, especially as the hedgehog would mainly be living in its own little house.’

In July this year, Victoria brought little Olive, who is two, home with her – and although it took a little while to get used to each other, Rosie and Olive soon became friends.

Recalling the animals’ first meeting, she said: ‘Rosie, who is about seven now, was very inquisitive, but Olive was really shy.

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‘She would ball herself up a lot, and huffle, where they puff their spikes up, which is a sign that they think they’re in danger and so get defensive.

‘It took a good four weeks for her to get used to everyone. There were times when I thought, “Have I done the wrong thing?” But I persevered.’

Now, while Rosie is still spooked when Olive rolls up into a ball, they are best friends – cuddling up and enjoying naps together and even sharing food.

Victoria laughed: ‘Olive is the fussiest eater. She doesn’t eat any live food like mealworms or bugs, which are the mainstay of most hedgehogs’ diets.

‘Instead she likes dried mealworms and cat biscuits – which Rosie is always pinching.’

Olive and Rosie (PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)
Olive and Rosie love spending time together (Picture: PA Real Life/@olive_the_hedgehog_)

And to give them some space if they need it, Olive has a little hedgehog house, handmade from upcycled wood by a family member, fitted with its own security camera so Victoria can see what Olive has been up to at night.

Victoria needs to keep Olive warm so the self-taught seamstress, she has made several special little pouches – perfect for burrowing into – and also uses heat pads to keep her hog’s temperature up.

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She’s even sewen handles into them so she can take Olive almost everywhere she goes. This has helped hugely with Victoria’s anxiety, which she has battled for years.

She explained: ‘I stay over with family quite a lot, and she’ll come for a little sleepover.

‘I either carry her in one of her special pouches, or she can sit on a heatpad in my bag.

‘Having her has helped me so much. I struggled for years with anxiety, to the point where I was afraid to even go out by myself.

‘Last year, I finally accepted I needed help, and have had medication and talking therapy – but nothing has helped quite like Olive.

‘She’s like a therapy pet. And Rosie, too – she is great at picking up when I’m feeling down. She’s so gentle and always comes over for cuddles.’

Ignorant strangers have criticised Victoria for keeping a hedgehog, saying Olive is ‘disgusting’ and ‘full of disease,’ but she insists that her beloved hog makes the perfect animal companion – both for her, and for Rosie.

Now, she has even set up an Instagram, where she delights her thousands of followers with enchanting snaps and videos of Rosie and Olive – who are never left alone unsupervised together – in action.

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She concluded: ‘I never expected people to like the pictures as much as they do. I’ve met some really lovely people through the Instagram, though, and Olive and Rosie are good as gold having their pictures taken.

‘They have very similar temperaments really. They’re both gentle, chilled and happy to be handled and cuddled.

‘They are unlikely friends, but they love each other to bits.’

Follow Victoria’s Instagram

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