Back in 1985, my daughter was just two years old and I was in my early twenties, heavily pregnant with my son when I happened to lumber past a local pet shop and there in the window staring back at me, was the most heart achingly beautiful, floppy-eared collie-cross puppy. Two days later my (then) husband and I went back to the shop, paid £8 and carried him home in a cardboard box to live with us ... far from ideal circumstances for adopting a puppy I know, but in those days a youthful heart ruled my head so I simply couldn't leave him there.
Harvey and my son in 1985
Our first job was to de-flea poor 'Harvey', as he was riddled with the little devils. Once we'd given him a scrub and sent his unwelcome guests packing, he settled in happily at home with our tortoiseshell kitten Sally, who had been abandoned in a piggery at just four weeks. Sally quickly decided Harvey would make a lovely 'mum' and the two became firm friends ... Harvey would even allow Sally to climb onto his back for naps!
A few years later, my kids playing with Harvey
Soon after adopting Harvey, I presented my daughter with a brother and our family was complete ... until four more cats moved in with us, but that's another story!
Back then, I knew nothing about dog training, so muddled my way through toilet training Harvey and teaching him basic commands, juggling my time between animals, kids and husband. Harvey had such a gentle nature and loved being with my children, so in terms of introducing a very young dog to such a young family, I think I was very lucky.
In hindsight, I don't think Harvey had nearly as much consideration given to him in those days, as my Polly does today. He had to fit in with the rough and tumble of our family life which meant sometimes he was walked every day, other times he wasn't. We took him to the park with the kids most weekends, which they all loved, but I was never confident enough to let him off the lead, so as he grew older he became wise to this and would slip out the door to take himself for a run if an opportunity presented itself. I worried myself silly each time this happened and would run round the streets calling for him, but was never quick enough to catch him! After he'd had his fun, I would hear a bark outside my front door and there he would be, waiting for me to let him ... thankfully he never disappeared for more than an hour or so.
My son now 28, meeting Polly pup
Harvey lived out his days with us, driving me crazy with his constant barking when anyone moved outside the kitchen window or the garden fence, jumping up at visitors and counter surfing like a expert - traits it never occurred to my young silly self, might be trained out. In 2000, old age finally caught up with our 'how much is that doggie in the window' Harvey dog, so we said our final goodbyes. Harvey may have had his faults thanks to our ignorance, but he was a loyal, gentle, clever dog and my kids loved him.
Fifteen years after saying goodbye to Harvey, we adopted Polly!
Shown here: me with my daughter Fay, taking Polly for a walk last Summer
Co-incidentally it is only now, as I look back at these old photographs, I see what my collie-cross Harvey may have been crossed with - is it possible that is some retriever I see there?!
All Golden Retriever ... Polly