Does Your Home Need a Harvey?

Pup makes a convincing case for adoption in UK ad
By Kathleen St. John, March 2011, Updated February 2015

Think your dog is well-trained? Meet Harvey, and reconsider. This freckled shelter pup performs a dazzling array of helpful household tricks, from shining (and not eating) shoes to picking the kids up at school—as he persuasively argues in this TV commercial, “Every home needs a Harvey.”

Since the ad first aired in the United Kingdom last fall, it’s racked up more than 1 million views on YouTube, and Harvey’s achieved canine celebrity in his homeland. He’s got his own Facebook page, a slew of “behind the scenes” extras and lots of incredibly cute pics for his fans to download. (The commercial is for UK advertising organization Thinkbox, which helps promote TV as a marketing medium.)
Offscreen, Harvey answers to a different name: Sykes. His real-life job as a pup-performer brings him plenty of work, including major film productions like Sweeney Todd, Prince of Persia and the latest Pirates of the Caribbean. In an article in The Guardian, Sykes comes across as refreshingly down-to-earth and charming, greeting the reporter at the door and showing off a sampling of the tricks he performed in his star-making commercial.
Sykes has a special connection to his Harvey character, too: He was once a stray. A friend of his future owner, Gill Raddings, was joined by Sykes while out on a walk. Raddings adopted Sykes after his original owner couldn’t be found, and she added him to her pack of acting animals.
Thinkbox’s “Harvey” commercial is currently getting a second blast of airplay across the pond, to the joy of his 12,000-plus Facebook fans. This time around, maybe he’ll make some new friends here in the States, and convince more people about the joys of adopting a shelter dog.

Photo courtesy of Thinkbox.

Kathleen St. John is a freelance writer for target The Denver Post and The Onion's A.V. Club, and a lifelong dog lover. She lives in Denver, Colo., with her husband, John, and her dog, Daisy, who's a mix of just about everything.