Our dog Harvey passed away on Tuesday 18th June 2019 after several illnesses. He soldiered through all that was put in his way and was of good humour right to the very end. Here’s the beginning of a series of stories I’ve written over the years all about Harvey’s adventures and mishaps.
Harvey was always a strong dog, even for an English Springer Spaniel. In his time, he’s pulled me over twice, both times I landed on my knees which are still sore to this day when I kneel down. If you didn’t pay attention to Harvey, especially when he was on the lead, he would be off chasing something or, more usually, nothing. Harvey was a force of nature and a free spirit. His one big failing was his inability to realise he was being led astray by the real master of the household, Holly. Holly, another springer, is all calm and quiet on the outside. But inside, she is devious and always plotting to lead Harvey into mischief. We called Harvey and Holly the ‘H’ Team, for obvious reasons. He was a black and white springer and she a liver and white.
Before we moved from the UK to Cyprus, I worked from home and my wife worked in town. It was a good working relationship because I was able to let the ‘H’ Team out to roam our large garden, knowing they would get up to no mischief. That was what I believed, but on one spring day Holly had other ideas.
I had let the dogs out in the morning with no problems. In the afternoon, at around three, I let them out and went back to my work. Ten minutes later I went to check on them. They were nowhere to be seen. That was lesson one, never leave the ‘H’ Team to their own devices, always be on the lookout for trouble. I went into the garden and looked up and down. The garden was wide with trees and bushes either side as a natural barrier to our neighbour’s gardens. It was eighty feet long and again, large trees and bushes at the bottom. Plenty of places for them to hide, but I couldn’t see them anywhere. As I turned to walk back up to our conservatory there was Holly, sitting near the back door. She was as innocent as innocent could be. I could almost see the shining halo. I knew something was up.
“Hello! Hello, Tom.” It was our neighbour, Mrs. Ford. She was in her early eighties and self-appointed neighbourhood watch. “Tom, Harvey is in my garden.” Facing our back door, Mrs. Ford was our neighbour to the left. I carried on walking to the back door and I looked at Holly who turned her head away as if to say, ‘Not my problem. Nothing to do with me.’
“Tom, if you can pass me Harvey’s lead, I’ll bring him round to the front for you.”
“Okay,” I shouted and quickly went inside to find the lead. “I’ll deal with you later,” I muttered to Holly as I walked past her. I could swear she sniffed her derision toward me.
I came back out, Harvey’s lead in hand, and I managed to pass it through the thick hedgerow to Mrs. Ford. “I have no idea where they got through,” I said, giving Holly a quick glance.
“Never mind,” Mrs. Ford said. “No harm done.” She took the lead and waved for me to go around the front.
I walked to the back door and Holly was still doing her saintly best to look all sweetness and light. In the kitchen I whistled a happy little tune as I opened the hallway door and that was when it hit me. I stopped dead in my tracks. “Oh, no! No, no, no!” I shouted as I raced to the front door. I had just put a force so destructive it can pull a 6’ 2” 20 stone man over, into the hands of Mrs. Ford, a dumpy little eighty-year-old lady. “Noooooo!”
Our front door flew open and there before me was a panoramic view of the lawns in front of our two houses. Both beautifully mown and green as green could be. There was the black footpath just before the small road where a car was screeching to a halt. All before me was in slow motion and Harvey was in full flight after a cabbage-white butterfly. Mrs. Ford, holding onto Harvey’s lead with gritted teeth and astonished eyes was also in full flight. Mrs. Ford didn’t quite match the duration of the first flight of the Wright brothers, but she must have been in-flight with no bodily part touching the ground for a good three seconds. And then she hit the grass and real-time resumed. The man was out of his car, I was chasing Harvey and trying to help Mrs. Ford, but the doughty Mrs. Ford was up on her feet. “I’m fine, don’t fuss. I’m fine,” she announced to all the world. Her spectacles were skew-whiff across her face and she had green marks on her face, hands and knees. But her undercarriage was still intact, and she was fiercely brushing herself down as she thrust Harvey’s lead into my hand and stomped off to her front door.
Harvey? He was sat watching what was going on, the butterfly forgotten.
Later that afternoon my wife came home, and I told her what had happened. She immediately went around to see if Mrs. Ford was okay. Mrs. Ford’s spectacles were held together with sticking plaster, but she was none the worse for her flying lesson. When my wife came back, I suggested we might charge Mrs. Ford for the flying lesson, in way of a little light relief. Humour always lifts the human spirit. But not in this case and the story still warrants a frown in my direction when I re-tell it… which isn’t often.