We were up all night after Harvey ate the cake icing

Zella had a fantastic day at Titchfield Haven and wonders what other local gems she's overlooked      Picture: Gary Taw

ZELLA COMPTON: Looking afresh at our beautiful spot in the world

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Having dogs is like having an 18-month-old child, I’d imagine.

You need eyes in the back of your head as they bump into things all the time and are always putting things in their mouths.

As with toddlers, dogs have their own agenda and they cannot communicate with you and vice-versa, no matter how loud you shout.

They also need mental and physical exercise and you have to clean up after them when they’ve, er, soiled!

But the difference is that you can take a child with you to most things, like holidays. With dogs, you need to find understanding friends or expensive dog sitters.

On Saturday, my wife threw a surprise 40th birthday party for me.

She hired out Hardy’s at Haslar, Gosport and 70 or so friends and family were awaiting my arrival.

One of the highlights of the night was my birthday cake.

On a large board, the cake was in the shape of the Isle of Wight and carried models of a steam train, a bus, a ferry and a big radio mast! Oh and two beautiful dogs.

The board carrying the cake was covered in icing and coloured to look like the sea. I placed it in the conservatory for safekeeping the next day.

After letting our dogs out for a comfort break, I caught up with friends on the phone.

‘Where is Harvey our golden retriever?’ I thought.

‘I’m normally tripping over him by now.’

To my horror, he was in the conservatory, licking the last remains of the icing off the board.

The next 24 hours can only be described as among the worst in his and our lives! In true baby style, we were up all night with him.

Several rolls of kitchen towel and tonnes of bleach later, it was finally out of his system and everywhere was clean again.

But did this nine-year-old dog learn? Oh no.

Next day, while out on a walk, he gulped down a generous helping of ‘cat pate’ he found under a hedge.

Here we go again!