RICK JACKSON: My best mate’s breath smells like nerve gas

You try towelling-down a muddy retriever
You try towelling-down a muddy retriever
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My best friend has just turned 15, or is he 105? He’s blond, now a bit deaf, his eyesight isn’t what it used to be and his breath is like nerve gas!

I’m talking about my golden retriever Harvey, who has been my best friend since July 21, 2003, and been by my side ever since through thick and thin.

He was eight weeks old when I picked him up. He was this beautiful light blond ball of fluff, waddling across the grass.

His legs seem to grow much faster than his body and after a few months, it looked like he was walking on stilts.

Then came the chewing. Boy could that dog chew. Table and chair legs, skirting boards and my slippers. He then moved on to walls as he developed a penchant for plaster!

For me, the retriever is the perfect dog. They have a gorgeous coat and gait, coupled with the most wonderful of temperaments.

Even with children climbing all over him, pulling his ears and swishing his tail, he remains as cool as a cucumber.

As with all retrievers, he also has the devil inside him. Mud is his most favourite thing in the whole wide world. Mud sends me into a state of dread and fear!

He can spot a muddy puddle from several miles I sure, then he homes in and jumps in, wallowing like a hippopotamus.

You try towelling-down a mud brown golden retriever, it’s nigh on impossible, as is bathing them. You have to chase him around the garden with a hose.

I remember how much attention Harvey got at Pompey’s FA Cup victory parade in 2008.

My Wembley flag had come off its stick, so I wrapped it around his collar to form a cravat.

He was referred to as the ‘Pompey dog’ by everyone he met for the rest of the day and true to form, he loved the attention.

He’s far more chilled these days, walks are shorter, sleep is longer, but Harvey remains my bestest, most loyal friend of them all, even if his breath makes me feel faint!

FROOME DESERVES A KNIGHTHOOD

So a Brit did win the Giro d’Italia for the first time, but not the one I was talking about!

How cruel is that sport? Simon Yates’s legs went and from race leader he finished 21st, an hour and 15 minutes behind the eventual winner Chris Froome, who put on the most amazing ride I have ever seen to win.

More than three minutes behind, he attacked with 80km to go and made up enough time over his rivals to win by almost 50 seconds. In football terms, it was like Liverpool’s Champions League final comeback of 2005 or Ian Botham’s Ashes comeback of 1981, it was that good.

Froome now holds all three Grand Tours, the first Brit and only the seventh ever to do it. Can we knight him now please?

THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD...

As a parent, my heart goes out to the families of 18-year-old Georgia Jones and 20-year-old Tommy Cowan, who lost their lives at Mutiny Festival.

How brave was Georgia’s mum, who posted the harrowing account of what happened to her daughter before she died. We can only hope nothing like this will happen to our children.

She was right in hoping this will deter people from taking drugs – drugs about which we know nothing of the chemicals they contain.

There are not printable words that describe the people who manufacture and sell this kind of stuff, but there is hope they can be found and stopped.

I’m only hoping by the time my kids are teenagers, class A drugs will no longer be seen as ‘cool’.