Ellie Harmsworth is a writer and marketing and content executive at Cazoo. She lives in West London with her pack of family Chihuahuas: Fudgey Wudgey, Daphne, and Poppy, and spends weekends horseback riding in Dorset along the English Channel coast. The University of Oxford graduate was on the cover of the July 2016 issue of Tatler (the publication described her as a “fearless rider and fiercely smart” Daily Mail heiress)—and not to be outshone, her Chihuahuas got their own feature in the same magazine in 2017.
Did you grow up with dogs?
I’ve always had dogs growing up. When my parents got engaged, my dad proposed to my mom with two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies, which were the dogs I grew up with. My dad also had two huge Huskies called Denka and Genji. I remember having the biggest meltdown when our family dog died when I was about 10. She was called Florette and she was a little brown and white Cavalier.
“I don’t think Fudgey Wudgey’s mine—I think she picked me.”
How did this little pack of Chihuahuas come into your life?
Well, we used to just have rescues—we had a little black Pomeranian cross which we found in the Garden of Ninfa near Rome, and a Jack Russell that my granny found in the back pages of Loot magazine! But one day I was in Harrods with my mum and my sister, and we went into the pet department while we were waiting for my sister to get her haircut. We were not supposed to be buying a dog, but we saw Daphne in the window. She was two-thirds off, and was going to be sent to a shelter or maybe even being put down, so my mother, who’s obsessed with dogs as well, thought we needed to take her home and make her part of the family. My mum then decided that she wanted loads more [Chihuahuas].
We had a boy, but he would always fight with the girls, so we had to give him away.
When they’re together, they’re literally a pack.
How did Fudgey Wudgey come into your life?
Fudgey Wudgey was originally a birthday present from my mum to my dad. Mummy got her as a little puppy, and she was presented to my dad on a cake in a little marzipan basket. My dad was maybe drunk or whatever, because he just assumed it was a marzipan dog. He didn’t realize for a few minutes that it was a real puppy! She was just sitting there with her little bow and cute outfit, perfectly still! This was four years ago, but I only bonded with her about two years ago. I had an awful breakup, and I was crying in my bed for about a month straight, and the only person who was there the entire time was Fudgey Wudgey.
Is that how Fudgey became yours?
This sounds cheesy, but I don’t think Fudgey Wudgey’s mine—I think she picked me. We have three Chihuahuas [Fudgey Wudgey, Daphne, and Poppy], and they’re all family dogs, but Poppy picked my mum and Fudgey picked me. It’s just the most amazing feeling when they love you more than they love anyone else!
Tell us about a day in the life with you and Fudgey.
During the week, I get up around 7 A.M. I have a celery juice and I give Fudgey her breakfast. Then we’ll walk up and down the street—to Holland Park—and then I’ll go to work. When I’m working from home, I’ll take her up to Notting Hill for lunch. After our dinner we’ll go on another walk, and then we’ll watch an episode of something in bed. She loves my boyfriend as well. It’s me and Fudgey and then he’s a third wheel.
What do weekends look like?
The same start—I’ll let her out for a wee and feed her breakfast, then make myself a coffee. Because there are a lot more dogs around, she’ll be a lot more outside. When I go riding, she’ll come down and watch me do my stuff by the manège. She tends to get quite muddy, so there’s a lot of time spent getting bathed!
At dinner she sits on my lap and begs me for food. As you can see, she’s quite plump, so it goes without saying that I can’t resist those huge bulging eyes! Sometimes we take her to the pub in the evening, because all the pubs near us allow dogs.
She’s not scared of the horses?
No, no. Sometimes when I pick her up and introduce her to the horse, she tries to bite them! It’s really cute. She’ll attack their nose and they don’t really know what’s going on, but she’s in full-on attack mode.
I love that. She’s brave.
And then sometimes, if I’m feeling like a loser, I’ll put her on the horse and pretend she’s riding for an Instagram photo.
She’s a very natural rider—unlike me.
Let’s talk about your affinity for animals! When did you start riding, and how does your relationship with your horses compare with your dogs?
My whole family loves animals, mainly because my mum is a real animal lover and she really instilled that in us really young age. My little brother and I used to go riding off to school every day. In the past, my relationship with horses has been more of a working relationship—I ride them and they serve a function. With dogs, the relationship is much more personal. Anyone can ride a horse depending on their ability.
Of course, as time has gone by, I’ve developed a closer relationship to my horses, Leo and Lily, and I get kind of jealous when I see my mum or other people ride them. I was riding Lily this morning, and she’s been out of work for two months because she hurt herself in the field. When I took her out this morning, she was galloping around being very naughty.
Where I live in Dorset is literally like an animal sanctuary. We have so many dogs and horses around, especially now, in the hunting season. The dogs get quite fat over the weekend, and then during the week, it’s time to slim down. Monday is a cruel mistress for all of us.
Where did you get Fudgey’s matching jumper?
It was a present; I think it’s from Mungo & Maud. I love this Instagram account called Chelsea Chihuahua, and from there, I bought Fudgey this shiny puffer coat that I love. Ralph Lauren also makes dog clothes that we love, and I recently walked into Love My Human [in Chelsea] and loved it.
Did you train them?
I like to think they can’t be trained because their brains are too small, but I think they just can’t be bothered, to be honest. Fudge can be persuaded to sit, but only when there is chicken involved.
Yeah, they’ll take themselves off, and you’ll find a poo like two days later behind like a sofa. Luckily they’re small—I can’t imagine having a big dog living in the house.
They’re also surprisingly athletic! My little sister used to make them do agility and they’re amazing at it. Daphne can jump really high. She’s like a cat.
Do you have plans with make dogs part of your career in the future?
I do work with the Dogs Trust, which is a charity for dogs, but when I get older, I’d like to combat the dog trade in China. When I was in L.A., I met Lisa Vanderpump at this dog sanctuary. She’s a larger-than-life character, and she said she spent loads and loads of money rescuing dogs from China.
I’d like to have two or three dogs in the future. At the moment, because I’m working a full-time job [in London], my housekeeper watches Fudgey, but I’d love to have flexible hours so I could have more dogs. Also, I couldn’t have another dog until Fudgey passes because she’s my baby.
Did Fudgey play any role in the courtship process between you and your boyfriend?
I think it goes without saying that I could only be with someone who has an affinity for animals. Luckily my boyfriend loves animals, even though he didn’t grow up with them. I don’t trust people who don’t love animals. I used to go out with a guy who liked dogs, but he wasn’t an animal fanatic. In the end we just didn’t really get each other, because my whole life revolves, in some ways, around animals.
Maybe you can sympathize with this, but because Chihuahuas are such small dogs, lots of people are quite dismissive of them, like they’re not “real” dogs. To be fair, they are lap dogs and they are more like cats. But I think it takes a real man to admit to liking a Chihuahua.
What is the difference between a yard dog and a home dog? We don’t have that concept in New York, and it seems to be a very British thing.
In the context of my own home, we have the dogs that live in the yard and they tend to be working dogs. Basically, a working Cocker [Spaniel] or Labrador, and they’ll pick up on shoots. And then you have foxhounds. We’re big into drag hunting, and we go hunting every weekend.
Foxhounds are not treated as pets—they’re treated as working animals. You wouldn’t bring one into your house because it could be aggressive, and also, they weren’t bred and trained to be pets, but to follow a scent. Something that my dad struggles to deal with [because sometimes he lets them inside] is that when dogs live inside, their training goes downhill. But when they live outside as working animals, their training stays intact. We have three Spaniels and they live in kennels because they work as shooting dogs, but my dad has a favorite one who tends to come inside a lot, which the chihuahuas hate. They think they are the chosen ones, which they are, in my opinion!
How many dogs does your family have right now?
I would have 10. I would love to have five Chihuahuas around me at all times. My mom finds it to be a lot of work when they are together, because they act like a pack and they don’t like being subject to authority.
Do they have a grooming routine?
We have a lady named Carolina who comes around once a month to clip their nails and all that. She makes house calls. There’s also a grooming dog spa in Chelsea that they go to. It’s amazing because you can go in and sign your dog up for a number of things, like facials for their tear ducts to having their teeth done to pedicures. And they also get washed and they smell delicious [afterwards]. But I like it when they smell a bit…not totally clean. That sounds weird, but because they resemble stuffed animals, it’s a bit like having your favorite stuffed animal which smells like you. I spray my perfume on Fudgey sometimes, although I know for sure she’d rather smell like fox poo.
What is your biggest indulgence spent on Fudgey Wudgey?
We have a house in Provence, five minutes away from this beautiful town called Gordes, and we take [the dogs] there every summer. They love it there—they trot around barking at the wild boar and patrolling the perimeter. Luckily, there’s an electric fence, to stop them from going too far. One time, this eagle injured its wing and fell out of the sky, and the Chihuahuas dragged this half-dead eagle to our back door. Luckily, it was still alive and we got the French [version of] the RSPCA to come collect it, and I think it recovered and got re-released later.
I can’t believe they dragged an eagle!
Yeah, it was huge!
They’re tiny. They’re the perfect size for an eagle’s meal!
We do worry about that sometimes. They would probably be delicious as well; very plump and tender for an eagle!
So do you consider yourself a dog mom?
I always call Fudgey Wudgey my best friend. We’re partners in crime. We’re both an acquired taste and we like pissing everyone off.