Sadly there will be some families in the UK who have not taken note of the advice that ‘a dog is for life and not just for Christmas’.

The expectation of the understandable look of delight on a child’s face when a soft, biddable puppy is presented to them on Christmas morning will have overridden the need to think through just what that entails in cost, time and commitment.

Dog charities will be bracing themselves for new arrivals when they have been identified as things that chew, pee and make noises and smells – or in some cases ‘don’t match the furniture,’ as happened recently. The worst was a cat handed in because it was ‘too affectionate’.

In the news this week were stories of dogs illegally imported from overseas because they could be sold as pedigree animals deemed desirable in this country.

Often sold by untraceable ‘breeders’ for cash, when the dog is discovered to be other than that it was alleged to be, they are unceremoniously dumped.

We have shared our home with dozens of dogs over many decades and have never dreamt of approaching a breeder, when so many dogs are in rehoming kennels.

One of the best dogs I ever owned was a crossbreed who had been in the charity’s kennels for several years and when we went to have a look, when all the others were leaping up barking ‘ME! ME!’ he sat at the back of his compound looking depressed.

We had Alfie for ten years or so and he was simply the perfect dog. 

He turned from being a sad lonesome mongrel to superdog, saviour of the universe within weeks, so pleased was he to be loved and cared for.

He even did the Lassie thing of coming to get us when a family member was in trouble in the woods with another sick dog.

I urge everyone who thinks they might want to give a home to a dog to go to a local dog charity (Stokenchurch Dog Rescue is a brilliant charity near us) and talk to them about what might suit them – and just as importantly – the dog.

Or if you are set on a particular breed, all breeds have a rescue charity and rather than pay someone who makes a living providing fashionable dogs for money – try a charity whose staff work for basic salaries or are volunteers – because they care for animals.