Abba and Diva are two lucky bitches - their owner Ann McNeilage has spent a total of £30,000 spoiling them.
The pampered pooches have a £5,000 wardrobe, their own chaise longue, a buggy, a DVD collection and a selection of perfumes. At Christmas, both dogs receive £150 worth of presents, a Christmas outfit and a roast dinner.
And throughout the year, the girls are treated to fortnightly days out to the beach, the museum, and even the fairground - where they enjoy taking turns on the rides.
When they are being chauffeured on trips in their buggy, Abba and Diva enjoy nothing more than settling down for a ‘girls night in’ with Ann, watching DVDs and being pampered.
Ann, from Inverclyde, Scotland, admits to spending most of her wages on the dogs, leaving little for herself, but she says the happiness her dogs have brought her have made it worth every penny.
She said: “Some people think I’m silly for spending so much money on them but they’re my hobby and I’d rather spend my money on my dogs than waste £100 on a night out like some people.”
Ann does her best to make sure her girls look trendy, dressing them in matching tutus and dresses.
She said: “I spend about £25 on an outfit and I’ve probably spent about £5,000 in total, although I make a lot of their things myself.
“A lot of stuff I don’t even put on them because I don’t want them to get ruined. I’ll just put them on for a photo and then it goes away again.
“They’ve got bows, hats, and necklaces and now and again they get a spritz of glitter spray. I’ve got a spare bedroom and what used to be my daughter’s big wardrobe where I keep all of their clothes and accessories.
“I do spend most of my wages on them once my bills are paid. I don’t buy myself clothes for myself, it’s always the girls. It’s just like having kids. It gives me pleasure. As soon as the postman comes with parcels they run to the door to see if it’s for them. They love it.”
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Ann, a nurse, does her best to keep seven-year-old Diva and one-year-old Abba entertained, treating them to exciting days out and cosy girl’s nights in.
She said: “I can sense how they’re feeling. If they’re bored I’m really sensitive to their moods and I act on it just the way you would with a child.
“I’m not afraid to admit things like that. They’re my babies and that’s it.
“They get taken out for days at the beach, museum visits, and fun fairs. They love taking turns on the rides.
“I dress them up to go out and they love the attention and being around people. I put them in their pink stroller and we make a day of it.
“And if we’re not going out we’ll have a girl’s night in and get pampered. They have their own DVD collection. The love Beverley Hills Chiwawa and they’re getting Pudsey the Movie for Christmas.”
Whether she is going grocery shopping, or clothes shopping, 50-year-old Ann will take the dogs fully dressed in their buggy.
She was once confronted by an angry mum on the bus, who was upset about having to fold up her own buggy to make space – but Ann doesn’t care.
She said: “I told her I had a bad back and I was taking my dog for a day out so she should mind her own business. Shih tzu can get tired easily so it is a lot easier to push them around. They can be quite stubborn and won’t walk far.
“In the summer it protects them from being burnt by the sun and we can have a nice day out. Some women tut at me but I think everybody knows me now and they love Diva and Abba. I don’t care what anyone thinks.”
As well as a bursting wardrobe and a bustling social life, the dogs have acquired a very sophisticated palette.
The shih tzu are able to distinguish the difference between prime chicken breast and the cheaper alternative and won’t dine on anything less than the best.
Ann said: “They eat fresh chicken and ham from M&S. If I get cheap chicken they know and they turn their noses up at it. Their antics are unbelievable at times.
“I take them to McDonalds once a month and they get a Happy Meal and every couple of weeks they get chicken chow mein from the Chinese takeaway.
“They love noodles and McDonalds fries.”
This Christmas the dogs will be treated to a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. And unsurprisingly, Ann plans to splash out on presents and Christmas outfits.
She said: “For Christmas I’ve bought them a camper van bed each. They already have four poster beds and a pink leather chaise longue but I want to make sure they’re comfortable.
“They’ve also got new clothes and a new outfit for Christmas day and lots of toys but I’ve still got things to buy.”
Birthdays are also a special occasion in the McNeilage household, and each dog is thrown a party to celebrate their special day.
Ann said: “They always have a themed party for their birthday. They’ve had a princess one, a Disney one and a fairy one but I pick a different theme every year.
“Sometimes my friends bring their dogs and they all sit around the table in their little party hats. I get them a personalised cake made specially at the bakers and we all sit down and have a slice.”
Ann has caused controversy with the amount she has spent on her pets, but she says there is no way she would rather spend her money.
She said: “They’re not just dogs they’re my children. Spoiling the dogs is a hobby for me. It’s my money that I’ve worked for. People easily spend £100 on a night out and I don’t do any of that.
“It’s my money and it’s my interest. If people worked out what they spent on alcohol it would be a lot more.
“People have said to me that I should donate that money to charity, but do you donate the money you spend on your hobby to charity? I don’t think so.
“They’re worth every penny.”
For Ann the dogs are a perfect companion, and have helped to ease her ‘empty nest syndrome’ since her daughter Amanda, 30, left home.
Ann said: “It’s like having two daughters. I call them my girls and they’re part of the family. They act like children, it reminds me of when my daughter was younger.
“They fight for attention and try and steal each other’s space on the sofa to get closer to me.
“They get very jealous and I have to have one on each side. Their antics are brilliant, they’re great dogs. There’s toys everywhere, it’s like having two kids.
“Getting the dogs was the best thing I’ve done, it’s changed my life. They’re my babies and spoiling them makes me happy.”