The dog is struggling. It’s day 4 and he’s freaked out. He’s a special little soul really, big in size and bark but pretty sensitive on the inside. He and I are somewhat inseparable – or we were until recent months. He’s supported me through tough deployments, warmed my feet when I tried to not use heating to save money in the Highlands and is our energetic adventure companion.

He came into our lives about 2 months into our marriage. A little bundle of red fur picked because when we went to see him he got up, walked around and bit then promptly spread himself over his brothers and sisters and fell asleep on top of them. I liked his style. Don’t ever be under an illusion you can visit puppies and leave without one. He was born on the day David Bowie died, so his name is Ziggy Stardust. He’s quite possibly the reincarnation of David Bowie.

He’s a Labrador so he’s pretty smart, I had grand ideas about training him to do all sorts of stuff. He was house trained in 3 days and he’s only ever done 2 poos in the house. The most useful thing we taught him is to wee on command, so we use the phrase ‘be quick’ and he knows that means wee. A fellow army wife taught me that. She also cautioned ‘choose a phrase that you can feasible shout from your back door, shouting ‘wee wees’ isn’t really ideal’. We also taught him voiceless commands so he’ll sit if you raise one finger in the air, and lie down if you point to the floor. He’ll roll over if you pretend to shoot him whilst saying ‘bang bang’.

He might sound quite well trained but the truth is he picks and chooses when he listens. He’s got selective hearing. He’s also really really cheeky. He has a knack of picking something up he REALLY shouldn’t have, inciting an automatic reflexive reaction to jump towards him to grab it off him. This turns into a game of chase, which he loves. He did this for example with the toilet brush once. Picked it up, horizontally in mouth, stood there with a twinkle in his eye until I noticed him then sped off round the house at a rate of knots. Brush coming in contact with the wall left right and centre. Recently he jumped into a fountain at the local park whilst under the care of his beloved dog walker, he swam round it leisurely before jumping out once he’d decided he was ready.

The truth is I totally love his spirit. In my mind he’s got a thick Scottish accent and a cracking sense of humour. He’s a total nutter. We always say he’s likely to die in a blaze of glory, going the extra mile to fetch a ball and ending up in a pickle. Once he jumped without warning onto the wall of a viaduct as we walked along it, we were SO high up. My husband and I froze, held our breath and just stood still until he nonchalantly jumped back down again. He could have easily plummeted to his death.

Obviously I love him dearly. He stopped me feeling lonely during a tough deployment and has been my shadow since he joined our pack. When I was so pregnant I could only waddle to walk him he just slowed right down and pretended he didn’t really want to run much anyway. When I was close to labour he was my biggest concern as we didn’t have anyone to look after him. Thankfully my parents saved the day. When I was in hospital recovering from a c-section I experienced the weirdest hormone crash whereby I had uncontrollable urges to laugh hysterically (SUPER painful in that situation). The only thought that would sober me up was the thought of Ziggy not being around. On returning from hospital with our new addition Ziggy pretty much ignored me for the first few days, I think he knew I was in a lot of pain. He didn’t know how to act. He ignored the baby too. Then gradually he started to check on the baby when she cried. Now he’s realising in our daughter he’s got an ally, who’s got an endless supply of cuddly toys. Just wait until she hits the high chair, he’s no idea he’s about to become a very useful hoover. He’s found his place in the pack.

Now though in lock-down he’s confused. I think he thinks we’re the last people on earth and he can’t cope with the pressure of protecting us. We tried some agility training today, he humped me. He sat with his head in his paws most of the afternoon contemplating, I imagine, the end of the world. The one good thing he has going in his life is food but we’ve cut it down as he’s doing less exercise. Perhaps he’ll go on hunger strike. I didn’t really think about home enough before lock-down. I wish I’d bought him his food and a few new tennis balls. So please send your ideas for entertaining our four legged pal, he’ll be extremely grateful!

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