AT last the search is over and last week seven-month-old Jamie, a Cavalier-cross puppy, joined our household. We adopted him through Cavalier Welfare as his original owner could no longer look after him. Sweet natured and full of fun, with just a few issues of which I was blissfully unaware at the time, which is probably just as well, all things considered.

From his scant paperwork it would appear that he was originally bought from a breeder in Wales, someone who unfortunately was not contactable when it became apparent that things were not working out in his new home.

The first time that we met, Jamie was sitting as far back as he could get, in a crate. The tiniest twitch of his tail politely acknowledged my words, but his eyes were clouded and confused. He shrank even further back into the crate when I reached in to stroke him and he was very unwilling to leave, what he considered to be, his safe haven.

He came with his own bed, a few toys, some food and a letter. In the letter his owner thanked me for agreeing to take care of him and explained a little bit about him. She sounded very sorry to have to give him up, but felt that she could not provide him with the sort of life that he deserved.

Despite her best efforts, apparently he was still not house trained and was described as very active and not walking well on a lead. She continued to say that she had never let him run free, for fear that he would run away.

Feeding had been very irregular and although he came with two bags of dry dog food, I was told that he probably wouldn’t eat them unless he was hand fed, but that he did like chicken, rice and fish fingers.

We decided to introduce Jamie and Brigadier outside, on neutral territory, where we then went for a short “meet and greet” type walk together which worked very well, but once inside Jamie’s confidence diminished. He was afraid of so much, including certain pieces of furniture and he barked furiously at the television. The washing machine was another scary noise and on Sunday I think he would have liked to kill the hoover.

We also discovered that he has a penchant for stealing things. Things from the coffee table, dining room table, cushions from the sofa, items from the kitchen worktop and even my slippers while I am wearing them, given half a chance. Books, coasters, my new varifocals, all are fair game and then he does “zoomies” around the house with his quarry in his mouth.

But he is good at bedtime. Even that first night we heard nothing from him at all, so at least we were fully rested come Sunday morning.

That first weekend was more than a bit wearing. At first Briggy decided to ignore the pup completely, refusing to even look in his direction and this house training business was definitely becoming an issue. Too nervous to stay outside in the garden on his own, he obviously wasn’t going to perform while I was with him.

It was very cold that Sunday evening, but in the end I decided that the only course of action was to leave the back door propped open. I needed to wear an extra jumper and a warm scarf, but gradually, over the course of the evening, the pup realised that he could actually go outside by himself and even better, come back inside again whenever he wanted to. But it was definitely Brigadier who saved the day by stepping in and helpfully demonstrating what it was that we actually wanted to see on the grass and suddenly everything fell into place. Suddenly, Jamie had that “light bulb moment” and was oh, so very proud of himself for being so clever.

Exercise still takes place on a 10 metre lunge line which is really useful for recall work. As for Brigadier, well he really does seem to have taken the little guy under his wing. Walks are a pleasure for us all, as Brig and I can stroll along at our own leisurely pace, admiring the view and sniffing the sniffs, while Jamie tears around, secure on his lunge line, convinced that one day he will catch one of those pesky birds up in the sky or maybe even the squirrel, running along the branches down by the beck. But every now and then he stops and looks back, just to check, “You guys are still with me, aren’t you?”

“Always, our little ginger-eared friend … always.”