FAITHFUL FRIEND . . . Robert Harvey with his much-loved dog in a picture provided to DnG24 on his behalf by a friend and campaigner
‘Darkie,’ a Miniature Schnauzer, has been Robert Harvey’s faithful companion for nearly ten years, but now the two may be separated due to a change in stance from the management at Burnfoot Hall Care Home.
Mr Harvey, 87, is devastated at the decision and yesterday said: “This whole thing is telling on my health. I have not eaten or slept right since the news was broken to me. Just the thought of him going is making me sick.”
He has been living at the home for nearly four years, after moving there from Canonbie with his wife, who needed care.
It was agreed then that their dog could stay with the couple.
And following his wife’s death two years ago, Mr Harvey decided to make his stay at the home permanent, particularly as they accepted his dog.
With several health issues now himself, which require him to get dialysis three times a week, Mr Harvey says his pet is a lifeline for company.
He said: “Everybody looks out for him, they all love him. The daily patients who come in all look for him, they love to pet him. His company and spirit are what keeps me going.”
But he has been told by Burnfoot bosses that Darkie is a trip hazard and they are concerned about the canine’s potential for running around the grounds and say there is nobody to care for him while Mr Harvey receives his treatment.
He has been left ‘dismayed’ by the comments and said: “I have never, ever, saw a person trip or have any issues with Darkie. He is the nicest dog around.
“There is an old fellow who takes my dog out to the bridge at the home and back whilst I am in dialysis. I give him his lead, he walks all the way up to the bridge then back. It takes him about 20 minutes.
“If he goes, it will kill me, just the thought of not having Darkie around is enough to make me ill.”
His friend Helen McEwan, of Gretna, has started a petition to try and get the decision reversed.
She said: “He lost his wife, he is now living for that dog, I do not know what would happen to him if he lost that dog.
“When the folk see Darkie they love him and smile, it is just lovely having him around.”
By the week of January 9 the petition to allow Mr Harvey to keep ‘Darkie’ had reached over 100,000 signatures, and was there eligible for debate in Parliament.
The operators of Burnfoot, Mead Medical Services, have responded to Mr Harvey’s concerns.
Managing Director, Michael Best, said: “I have witnessed personally this dog coming out of nowhere, barking and becoming aggressive at a family to the point where a mother and grandmother were forced to shield the two young children.
“Fire doors are consistently left open so that the dog has free reign.
“This leaves patients freezing in the winter months as the cold air comes in. Over time this dog has been allowed to run freely. The home is housing mostly residents, people that need car.
“These people have limited mobility and sensory abilities, it is not safe.”
Mr Best stated he had witnessed the dog foul several times in the last fortnight and that it had eaten from Mr Harvey’s dinner plate.
He stated: “If Mr Harvey insists on keeping the dog, he will have to find somewhere else to live.”
The company chief pointed out that the home recognised the benefits of animals and Burnfoot had alpacas, cows, sheep, chickens amonst other animals in the grounds.