Tuesday, 7 July 2009


Last week was a sad one for me and my family as I had to let my faithful black Labrador Harry slip away. He'd been ill for a couple of months and had progressively deteriorated. He's been with me for eleven fantastic years and has seen me through good and bad times, getting married and the birth of my two children. Harry (like most Labradors) had three loves in life fishing, shooting...and food. It was on various fishing trips that Harry was introduced to the 'outdoor life'. I still have great memories of him having a nose-to-nose stand-off with a 29lb pike I caught in Norfolk and watching him jumping around in excitement on the bank as I played specimen barbel on the Hampshire Avon. Our last fishing trip, three weeks ago, was on the Driffield Beck, the cancer was taking it's toll but he still followed me along the bank, and when I paused to cast he laid in the sun and kept a watchful eye on me and my sandwiches!

My one regret is that the clock ran out before I had a chance to get him to the banks of the Eden, which I'm sure he would have loved as I am starting to.

Shooting days were fantastic and although not the steadiest dog in the world he pulled-off some spectacular retrieves including a very special underwater retrieve of a teal on the River Windrush. In the last four years Harry almost single handedly did all of the picking-up and flushing on our small grey partridge shoot in Yorkshire. All our visiting guns were always appreciative of his drive to pick and flush everything. These were special days indeed that will remain vividly etched in my memory for the rest of of my life. We got to the end of last season and I remember saying to him "I reckon we have another season left before you retire". Sadly this wasn't to be and I have lost my best friend before the start of another shooting season - and without him it will feel very empty. I think about him every day and I can't get used to him not being there.

Over eleven years Harry built up quite a reputation and a bulging fan-base. As the news got out lots of my sporting friends rang me. During these emotional conversations we swapped stories about the various 'incident's' Harry had been involved with and we had more than one belly laugh. This was great therapy for me and that is how I will remember him. I know one day we'll both meet again on that great partridge drive in the sky.

Later this summer I will spread his ashes at the Holkham Estate in Norfolk, his favorite walk and coincidentally just happens to be the birthplace of driven shooting. I think he would approved of my choice.

Harry Johnson - (March 1998- June 2009)