As sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter’s much-anticipated second book hits the shelves, Joanne Bednall uncovers some fascinating facts about his celebrity canines.
Hot on the heels of ‘Olive, Mabel and Me’, sports broadcaster and best-selling author Andrew Cotter’s second book, ‘Dog Days: A Year with Olive & Mabel’, chronicles a whirlwind 12 months with his two faithful, food-obsessed, and often slightly bewildered Labradors.
During lockdown, in a departure from commentating on rugby, golf, tennis, and athletics, Andrew switched his focus to the everyday activities of his two dogs, catapulting them into the social media stratosphere after his hilarious videos went viral on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
“It was lovely to see the reaction to my first book,” said Andrew. “And although Olive and Mabel have continued to offer very little practical help with the writing, they have helped as some sort of inspiration and I’m so glad that they have been by my side throughout this past year — quite often snoring. It has been an extraordinary time for everyone and I hope that ‘Dog Days’ might strike a chord with people, whether they are dog lovers or not.”
The dogs have become accustomed to their celebrity status.
1. Now accustomed to both online and live audiences, Olive and Mabel’s stage debut was in October 2020 at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham, as part of the town’s famous literature festival.
Attracting 100 people, it was the first time Andrew had witnessed a real-life reaction to his two dogs.
“I’d fed them both on stage beforehand, so it had already become a place of great joy,” explained Andrew, who admitted his understairs cupboard at home is bursting with goodies — treats, drawings, and even handmade leather collars from Canada — sent by the dogs’ army of adoring fans.
“Some members of the audience slipped them treats, and from then on, the front row became a source of biscuit income.”
2. Olive and Mabel were honoured to ‘sit’ for celebrity snapper Harry Borden. More comfortable in the company of stars such as Martin Scorsese, Morgan Freeman, and the Spice Girls, the award-winning British photographer, whose work hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, was commissioned to capture the canine duo for US magazine ‘Outside’.
“It was a very odd experience,” recalled Andrew. “And a reminder of how American publications do things — they didn’t send just any old photographer.”
The resulting cover shot of Mabel — “Olive and I were dumped!” — was, not surprisingly, stunning.
“Mabel looked beautiful — as well as rather lost and confused, which is her default setting,” added Andrew.
3. During their first trip to London in autumn 2020, the two dogs appeared on ‘BBC Breakfast’, followed a few days later by ‘The Chris Evans Breakfast Show’ on Virgin Radio, where Olive and Mabel were initially mistaken for assistance dogs at reception.
“Luckily, there were no ‘Blue Peter’ moments but Mabel did manage to leave blonde hairs all over the carpets,” recalled Andrew.
4. Olive hates shiny floors and will do almost anything to avoid them.
According to Andrew, the black Labrador will hug a wall or go round the edge of a room to escape a slippery surface and will leap on a chair or even a luggage trolley in a bid to seek sanctuary.
“It’s Olive’s one ‘thing’,” explained Andrew. “All I can do is gently cajole her and be breezily firm — like talking to a child.”
On occasions, Andrew and his dogs love to get away from the spotlight.
5. Mabel celebrated her fifth birthday on December 13  while Olive was nine on November 29 . “Every day is a birthday for these two!” quipped Andrew.
6. Although Andrew is adamant he will never ‘sell out’ his dogs, and regularly turns down brand deals for fear of commercialising them, he admitted the offer of an Olive and Mabel wine was tempting.
“A reputable, established wine merchant approached us and even showed us a mock-up of the label,” explained Andrew. “It looked good and was done very well — the product was high-end and would have made a nice gift. But it is weird for me to think of my pets as any kind of brand.”
7. While people tend to gravitate towards Mabel, who can be quite shy at first, dogs are more likely to focus their attention on Olive. Despite their black Labrador neighbour, Dexter, “wanting to be more than good friends”, the girls just aren’t interested.
“Dexter is one of life’s hopeless optimists and worships Olive, but she only sees him as pleasant company,” laughed Andrew.
8. Both are terrible guard dogs. “Although Olive has a loud bark, Mabel has only barked twice in her entire life,” said Andrew.
“They would probably agree to burglars stealing anything. The other day, a young delivery driver seemed very wary of them and asked if they would bite — I assured him there was more chance of him being licked to death.”
Olive and Mabel have become internet sensations.
9. Olive and Mabel’s videos have attracted more than 90 million views across Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
The most popular is the second film Andrew made, ‘Game of Bones’, in which he commentates on Mabel patiently waiting to steal an orange rubber bone from Olive. It has received around 30 million views in total to date.
10. Andrew attaches a range of affectionate monikers to Olive and Mabel at home, although they are just as likely to ignore ‘Mouse’, ‘Chops’, ‘Chump’, ‘Diggle’, ‘Plum’, and ‘Noodle’ as they are their real names.
11. Along with Chris Evans and Louise Minchin, Olive and Mabel have met Michael Palin, Ed Miliband, Clare Balding, and former Westlife member Brian McFadden, whose golf ball Mabel managed to stop with her paw as it headed for the hole during a charity golf competition, before the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in September. “He didn’t mind though and chatted to both dogs afterwards,” added Andrew.
12. After a sell-out UK tour in 2021, six new dates have been confirmed in March and April 2022 for Andrew’s acclaimed road show with his dogs.
Due to popular demand ‘An Evening with Andrew Cotter, Olive, and Mabel’ — described by the sports commentator as a “mini farewell tour” and “the dog version of ABBA” — will now call into Swansea, Chester, Glasgow, London, Belfast, and Dublin.
● For more information and to book, visit www.fane.co.uk/andrew-cotter
● Published by Black & White Publishing, ‘Dog Days: A Year with Olive & Mabel’ is on sale now from Amazon, Waterstones, all good book shops, and at www.oliveandmabelbook.com, priced at £20 (hardback).