I’ve spent £100,000 on my dog Lola – and she’s worth every penny!

November 29th, 2011

Louise Harris with her pet dog Lola

When Kate Middleton stepped out at her fairytale wedding to Prince William, millions around the world gasped at her beautiful outfit.

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Among those watching in awe was 32-year-old Louise Harris. Not that Louise is huge fan of the royals – but the dog-mad businesswoman suddenly realised she had to have Kate’s stunning platinum and diamond-encrusted tiara. It would look perfect on her pet Yorkshire terrier, Lola.

“when I saw Kate Middleton I thought it was so nice that I needed one for Lola,” Louise explains.

“It cost me £500 to get a replica made in a size that would fit her, but it was 100% worth it.

“She looks beautiful in it. I’m a nurturing and caring person and when I got Lola, it was about giving her the best I could in life.”

The sparkling tiara is not all. in the seven years she’s had her diva dog, Louise has splashed out more than £100,000 on all sorts of extravagant treats.

Lola is the proud owner of a £5,000 hand-made designer bed and her own jewellery collection. She also has hundreds of hand-made dresses, costing up to £400 each.

In fact, the fashion-conscious dog now has so many clothes she needs her own adult-size walk-in wardrobe and her own chest of drawers at Louise’s home near Stansted, Essex.

Louise Harris’s dog’s wardrobe

“She has more dresses than me,” laughs Louise.

“her most beautiful one is a £400 couture outfit we had made for a party in the summer, with nude and black embroidered lace, chiffon and silk.

“I like to look nice and dress well myself. If Lola was my child, she would wear the best that I could afford to give her, so as my dog I still want to give her the best I can.”

Lola might easily qualify as the most pampered pet in Britain, but she is one of a growing pack of diva dogs whose owners believe their tiny pets should have the best of everything. Britain has gone mad for teacup puppies – miniature and toy dogs that will just as happily sit inside a designer handbag as race around the park.

Over the past five years, the Kennel Club has reported a 350% rise in the number of Chihuahuas registered with the organisation.

Retired vet Sandra Ponder, who owns seven Chihuahuas, says: “They’re just adorable. They’re like little children.

“They’re small and sweet, vary between 2lbs and 6lbs, don’t need loads of exercise or food and they don’t take up a lot of space.

“It’s hardly noticeable if you have a Chihuahua in the house. I think that’s why they’re so popular.”

Sandra Ponder with her two dogs

The trend for micro pets is explored in a ITV1 documentary, Super tiny Animals this Wednesday. But while miniature pigs and ponies are also proving popular, it’s the diva dog craze that has really taken off.

When Louise bought Lola, it was rare to find designer dog dresses in Britain. now there are outlets across the country.

Louise says: “For Lola’s first winter I bought her a coat, but it didn’t fit properly. I thought ‘I wouldn’t dress myself in a pile of rubbish like this, so why am I going to do it to the new addition to the family?’

“I looked on the internet and found her a beautiful pink coat in America. I had it imported and after that I got a bit obsessed!”

Now Lola has the best of everything, including organic chicken dinners.

Even her snacks are upmarket – expensive venison ears rather than bones or dog chews.

Lola travels in a £350 designer pet carrier, which looks just like a stylish tote, and her jewellery collection includes necklaces made of real emeralds, rubies, pearls and sapphires, costing up to £675.

“they are so pretty I share them with her and I’ll wear them too,” Louise says. “She’s a very lucky dog, but she is a bundle of fun that absolutely changed my life, so to me £100,000 over seven years is nothing.”

Back then, Louise, who also owns a home in London’s Canary Wharf, was working in the City as a high-flying analyst.

“It was very stressful and my life was completely different. I was a single girl, working and partying very hard and I never even had time in my life to look after a goldfish, let alone a dog,” she recalls.

All that changed in 2004 when her younger sister persuaded her to visit a local dog breeder to view some Yorkshire terriers.

It was love at first sight and Louise rushed to a cash machine to get enough money to buy Lola on the spot.

The following year she quit the City and in 2006 she set up her own company, Diva Dogs, supplying dog grooming and high-end fashion and dog accessories to other equally obsessed pet owners. And when it comes to high-maintenance hounds, the only way is Essex.

Because while Louise doesn’t yet offer vajazzles for her four-legged friends, she does give nail polishes, using special dog nail varnish, pink Mohican hair cuts, massages and facials.

Business is booming and her Chelmsford shop is used by footballers’ wives and glamour models.

Louise, who lives with TV presenter boyfriend Daniel Hill, recently sold a £2,700, 18ct gold dog necklace and last week received a call from a man who owns eight Akitas. He commissioned eight of the necklaces, requesting at least 100 diamonds in each one.

Louise, who has three other Yorkshire Terriers – Lulu, four, Lolly, three, and Larry, two – admits that Lola is spoilt.

“I treat them all well, but Lola has a special place in my heart because she was the first and she completely changed my world,” she says.

“But they are all my fur babies and each and every one of them is special.

“I would like children of my own one day, but my dogs will never be left out – they’ll always be part of the family.”

Equally potty about her pooches is Sandra, from Cheshunt, Herts.

At one point she owned 17 Chihuahuas and was known locally as the Dog Lady. Grandmother Sandra, 66, who now owns just seven dogs – Harry, Ruby, Oliver, Molly, Teddy, Zoe and Dinky Donut – started designing clothes for Chihuahuas after she couldn’t find outfits that fitted her pets.

She now runs an online firm, www.chihuahuawear.co.uk, that makes one-off pieces for Britain’s most pampered pooches.

Sandra, who worked as a vet and ran animal rescue centres before she retired, says: “I love sewing and I love dogs, so it seemed to make sense. I usually only dress my own dogs in a coat to keep them warm, but other people seem to like dressing dogs in really beautiful outfits and the dresses are so cute.”

Sandra recently made a white satin padded coat, complete with a faux fur collar, satin bows and 300 white and pink Swarovski crystals for a Chihuahua going to its owner’s wedding.

She even makes tuxedos for male dogs, as well as Swarovski crystal dog leads, pink tutus, pyjamas and dressing gowns for the winter.

And for those who say it’s barking mad to give a dog so much bling, Louise has the last word.

“People spend that sort of money on cars and watches, but I’m spending it on a living creature. Lola is worth it – she’s my pride and joy,” she says.

Diva dogs – the worldwide phenomenon

The craze for diva dogs began in America and several celebrities count a tiny pampered pet among their best friends.

Paris Hilton’s pup Tinkerbell is probably the world’s best-known handbag dog. The cute Chihuahua accompanies its famous owner to social events and parties, sitting inside Paris’s oversized handbag.

Actress Hilary Duff owns five, including her beloved Blue Fawn teacup Chihuahua Lola, who goes everywhere with her. She says of her dogs: “they have so many clothes. I love them like they were family members. I get all of her clothes from Maxwell Dog. they make little Ugg shoes for dogs and motorcycle boots. It’s so cute.”

Nicole Richie is rarely seen without her teacup dogs – Shih Tzu Honeychild and Pomeranian Foxxy Cleopatra.

And Mariah Carey has made no secret of her love for her four Jack Russells – JJ, Cha-Cha, Dolomite and Jackie Lambchops, regularly posting pictures of the dogs for her 2.8m Twitter followers.

It’s even reported that Mariah put the dogs in for therapy to prepare for the arrival of her twins earlier this year and the dogs also accompanied her to hospital for the babies’ birth.

* Super tiny Animals is on ITV1 on Nov 30 at 7.30 pm

I’ve spent £100,000 on my dog Lola – and she’s worth every penny!

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