A pampered pooch who enjoys a snifter of Pawsecco with her steak dinner – after a wash and blow dry using £70 vegan shampoo – is now set to be a ring carrier at her owners' May wedding.
For Cockapoo Lola is so spoilt by Lu Short, 27, and her fiancé, Chris Wilkinson, 29, that the young professionals even moved 35 miles from their chic pad in east London's Docklands to a doggy des res in Chelmsford, Essex, so she could have a garden.
Completely potty about the cuddly canine, they spend $250 a month just on her food and accessories like perfume and toys, clean her teeth with special canine chicken toothpaste and give her nightly head massages.
And when they tie the knot on 18 May at the beautiful All Saints Church in Ulting, Essex, she will play a major role, according to Chris, who said: “She will feature very heavily during the day and will be carrying the rings at some point.
“But she won't be allowed into the actual church, as it's literally three metres from a river, so there's a big danger she'll run into it for a swim, then shake muddy water over everyone's nice clothes and Lu's white dress!"
Chris, who is chief of staff at pet well-being company Paws.com, met senior paediatric nurse Lu when they lived on the same floor at their halls in Kings College, London, in September 2009, where they were both studying for degrees – him in geography and her in nursing.
Soon a couple, they bought Lola from a breeder near Stansted Airport, Essex, in April 2018, Lu having begged Chris to get a dog for six months.
But it was Chris who first broke the rules they had made about “no dogs on the bed."
Lu laughed: “Every night Lola comes and says goodnight to us and we give her a head massage until she falls asleep."
She continued: “Even though he wasn't big on the idea of having a dog, Chris started secretly sneaking her up to for little sleep overs after the first two weeks that we had her and now she has her own bed in our room, but she sleeps with us most of the time.
“She also has a daily massage with special paw butter, costing £20 so she doesn't get cracked paws, but it's mainly to make them smell nice. No one likes cracked paws and she sometimes gets smelly feet!"
As well as all her luxuries at home, Lola has her own pet passport and has enjoyed deluxe doggy holidays with her owners at $125 per night dog friendly hotels – dining in top restaurants in the upmarket French city of Le Touquet.
Lu continued: “She loves going on holiday and has been to France, the Cotswolds and Edinburgh. She regularly goes to the pub, too, where she has a lot of fans – although not as many as she has on her Instagram @lola_itsadogslife, where she has over 1,600 followers!"
And, with fans to please, no self-respecting doggy diva would be seen out in anything less than the latest canine couture.
With that in mind, the couple bought Lola her very own $250 Barbour jacket and collar set combo – a brand worn by royals including the Queen.
Lu said: “I spend all my money on her because she makes me happy, but it's Chris who gets her the big treats. Chris wasn't a dog lover, but now he's got Lola , he's quite obsessed with her, although he'd hate to admit it.
“One of the most expensive things we bought her was her full £200 Barbour set. I mean I haven't even got a Barbour jacket so I'm quite jealous of her on our walks. She's sat there all dry, while I get soaked."
But the couple are not the only people to be pampering their pooch, according to a new survey, which found that 67 per cent of Millennials see their dogs as a prototype for a child, with 46 per cent of young adults today being likely to own a dog before starting a family.
The report by Paws.com also found that young people, aged from 22 to 35 are choosing to have pets, over having children as they are cheaper, and 44 per cent – like Lu and Chris – throw their dogs birthday parties.
For Lola's first birthday on 12 February 2019, the couple dressed her up in a party hat and threw a little private event for her.
Lu, who cooks extra for her pooch whenever they have a roast dinner, recalled: “We made a really big fuss of her, put her in a party hat, which she loved and fed her a big freshly cooked rib eye steak."
She continued: “And of course we sang her happy birthday.
“But she's used to being serenaded. We have little songs we sing to her where we just add Lola to them and she loves it.
“Chris is better at it than me but this morning I was singing the song about being the three best friends that anyone could have from The Hangover."
In return for all their time, money and effort, Lu and Chris, who make sure Lola gets four walks every day, say they receive priceless amounts of pleasure.
When they suffered a heartbreaking family bereavement in early 2019, it was her unconditional love that helped them to get through it.
Lu said: “She would go to everyone in our family one by one when we were all at our lowest. It's like she just instinctively knew when to give comfort and how to be there for people."
She continued: “There's so much stress around and actually people just need to connect more with real life and she connects me to it.
“I always wanted to be a vet, but took a different path and now any kind of animal brings me so much happiness and enjoyment.
“If I do something for her, like giving her some steak, it's worth every penny, because she gets so ecstatically happy about something so simple."
While Lola loves life's luxuries, she can still be a naughty little mutt at times.
Lu laughed: “She'll have a nice bath and smell lovely and then decide to roll in fox poo.
“We have special shampoo for the fox poo because the expensive vegan stuff won't cut it for that."
She continued: “I would have liked her to be involved in our actual wedding ceremony and definitely want her to be part of the day, but, knowing how naughty she can be, I'm not allowing her in the church, as I have visions of my beautiful white dress and her jumping up for a cuddle, with her muddy paws.
“I love her dearly, but that might not be a great combination on my big day!"