JAMIE has been with us for 12 weeks now and despite a few issues at the beginning, I do feel that we are making good progress.

House training was mastered very quickly, with a little help from the Brigadier, our pack leader.

Feeding was another problematic area, initially. In the letter Jamie brought with him, it explained how he didn’t like dog food, either dry kibble or meat in pouches, but that he did like chicken and fish fingers; nevertheless, there were still times when he preferred to be hand-fed. He was a bit on the lean side as you can imagine.

Fortunately a lovely lady, who at one time used to walk my dogs, came to our rescue. Jackie now works at a shop called The Raw Store that specialises in both natural products and raw food for dogs and cats.

With nothing to lose, we decided to give raw food a try and he has never looked back. Eating very well, no hand feeding necessary, Jamie has a lovely shiny coat and is a better weight and shape altogether.

One thing that was still posing a problem though, was his penchant for stealing things.

Despite having more toys than you could shake a paw at, he was obsessed with stealing and then running off into the garden with his treasure.

Anything was fair game, whether it was on the floor, on a table, the kitchen work top, in a pocket; if it could be reached, he would pinch it and run.

With hindsight, I don’t believe that he really wanted the kitchen scissors, my glasses, a screwdriver or even the sock from the washing machine.

I think what he really wanted was a good old game of tag. Round and round the garden we would chase and as much as he adores being “a good boy”, I still could never persuade him to relinquish his treasure willingly.

Treats didn’t work, in fact at that point I don’t think there was anything that he considered to be a treat, or at least not as much of a treat as a good old run round the garden. Then Jackie came to the rescue once again.

“I will bring you some natural treats,” she said, “Something that he will find irresistible.” True to her word, Jamie did indeed, find the new snacks irresistible. All were made with natural ingredients, all were different colours, tastes and textures and all were sausage shaped.

“And say a word when you give him one,” she advised, “Use the same word, every time, so that he learns to associate that particular word with the treat.”

It sounded logical when she put it like that, so that’s exactly what we did and our chosen word became “sausage”.

The very next day, I managed to successfully retrieve a gardening glove, one of my favourite shoes and a solar-powered garden light, minimum effort and all without leaving the kitchen.

Within no time at all we had reached the stage when the word “sausage” would be barely passed my lips, before he was skidding to a halt in front of the kitchen cupboard, like the very good boy that he was. Dog whisperers, eat your heart out.

A couple of days later I was relaying the tale of our breakthrough to a friend, over the telephone.

“Well...” he replied, “I can imagine the sort of conversation that Jamie is having with his friends out on the field now. Can’t you just here them…

“Hey, Jamie how’s it going at the new place? Settling in okay?”

“Champion thanks. Few issues at the beginning, you know how it is, but she’s getting there, slowly. Bit of a breakthrough last week mind and now, whenever I fancy a snack, all I have to do is pinch something … anything will do… and she not only buys it back with a sausage, but she’s absolutely cock-a-hoop as well! She loves it! You ought to give it a try at yours!”

“Cheers matey, definitely will!”

You don’t think he could be right… do you?