Sybilla Hart: A dog’s dinner

PUBLISHED: 12:25 11 July 2016 | UPDATED: 12:25 11 July 2016




Sybilla Hart reflects on her new life in Essex after leaving London. This month: how her chocolate Labrador got to be so greedy

I am so grateful to the Cambridge University researchers who recently revealed that one in four Labradors carries a high ‘food motivation’ gene, which explains why they are such a notoriously greedy breed.

Seymour, our chocolate Labrador, fits the bill without a shadow of doubt. His greed will stop at nothing, including silicone earplugs and Nurofen Express. Thanks to his voracious appetite for anything that he deems edible, I spend a lot of time and money these days at the Earls Colne branch of Boots, lugging children in and out of car seats all because my darling dog cannot resist an earplug.

I could not figure out where all these earplugs were disappearing to, until I caught Seymour red-handed chomping on some blue bio ears in my bedroom. Some dogs! The reason for my prolific earplug habit? A snoring husband. One night the snoring was so loud that I even resorted to using play dough in the absence of earplugs. Please don’t try this at home – glittery pink playdough is not nearly as effective as the real McCoy and is probably to be avoided.

But though the earplugs are now under lock and key, Seymour’s girth is still protruding. His most recent devouring of no less than six melting middle M&S haddock fishcakes has not helped his figure. My mother, who had left them on the table ready to go in the oven, kept asking me if Seymour was OK after his fishcake extravaganza. Of course he was! If he can digest human medicine and silicone, what’s a melting middle (or six) between friends? He always seems to take advantage of my mother’s gifts – the last time he ate half a vast chocolate celebration cake intended for 16 people. Hence I am currently plotting where to stow him away when we open our garden in aid of the NSPCC on July 15. Safe to say, the cakes will not be safe with Seymour around, so he will be tucked away in the playroom with a dog bone on that occasion.

Normally he chooses toys over dog bones, which is a mixed blessing depending on the toy. Now that it is pool season again, Seymour is particularly proud of his spoils, which are more notable at this time of year. Socks left by the pool, armbands and goggles all provide hours of fun and dog amusement.

As I write this, I am a little nervous that the only person who Seymour listens to – my husband Charlie – is about to take off to Chelsea for the celebrated flower show for a week. Hopefully by July 15 we should have got the torn plastic under control and visitors can admire the flowers and views, instead of Seymour’s plastic spoils.

Visit the garden

Vist the Open Garden at Peverels Farm in Colne Engaine (CO6 2HS) on July 15 from 11am to 5pm in memory of Ayeeshia Jane Smith. A tree will be planted for Ayeeshia, who would have turned four on this date. Children welcome. Tea, coffee and cakes will be available. Entry is £5 per person to include tea or coffee. Children go free. All proceeds to the NSPCC.

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