The Third Leader: Dog's dinner

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Down here we are, among other things, embarked upon an unceasing quest for the inspirational, the uplifting, and the exemplary. What we are looking for is the image that, in the times of weakness and waver, prompts you to give one of those firm, stubborn shakes of the head followed by the clenched fist of resolve.

I'm thinking of people and things like Henry V, Nelson, the Alamo, La Pasionaria, Mandela, Bobby Moore, and that bloke who won The X Factor. To which must now be added another name: Oakley!

Yes: cometh the hour, cometh the formerly overweight golden retriever who has lost 7.6kg - 16 per cent of his bodyweight - in just 100 days. What a fitting figure he is, with that day of temptation, that feast day of feast days fast approaching!

How did he do it? By giving up his favourite rich tea biscuits and swopping a sedentary life in front of the television for long walks and playing in the park, that's how. Marvellous. My family are already eyeing me in a significant way. Thanks, Oakley.

Unstinting praise must also go to the other entrants in the PDSA scheme, including Pebbles the cat, who has lost nearly 10 per cent. But, I understand, no other species came forward, although gerbils and hamsters had been hoped for. Shoulders to the wheel, please!

Meanwhile, on that day, as you ponder, idly, the choice between another mince pie, investigating the next layer of the selection box, or taking some exercise and going out to the kitchen to sneak a cold roast potato, I want you to conjure up a pair of large brown eyes staring solemnly at you. We say: remember Oakley!

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