Born on 5th January 1977 she was just eight and a half weeks old when we picked her up from the breeder and took her home. A pale gold bundle with tiny white whiskers ,she looked just like a tiny lion cub so we called her Elsa, the name given to the lioness in the iconic film, Born Free. When very young, her needle sharp little teeth would occasionally nip in play but as she grew, her nature was gentle and there was never an ounce of malice – a typical Golden Retriever. She wasn’t really allowed on the furniture apart from her chair. She did like to chew though – you can see the bare patch on the seat cushion. We lost clothing, books, records, carpets, – anything she took a liking to. And then at six months she stopped and was never an ounce of trouble again….until the day she ate a grass snake! That made her very poorly.
She came everywhere with us – to the pub, to the shops and on holiday. and that’s me age 21
When the children came along she was so protective of them and as they grew she was their best playmate. She was never far away, and appeared in almost every photograph of them. For reasons we couldn’t fathom she took to one particular son over the other children and liked to sleep at the foot of his bed (much to the annoyance of the others who thought it unfair that their rooms were never chosen).
Below is the last photo we ever took of her – Christmas 1988. Early in January, just after her 12th birthday she went out into the garden. It was an icy cold day and we found her lying on the grass; she’d had a heart attack. Only afterwards when the Christmas photos were picked up from the chemist, did we notice how old she had got to look. We all missed her terribly and it was along time until we felt ready for another pet.