AS Moss our spaniel barked exultantly from the back of my car (John’s new Discovery is not to be sullied by muddy dogs yet), I noted the sad look on Fizz’s face as she was left behind in the porch. It was the last shoot of the season and, as usual I was accompanying John in the unglamorous, but vital I tell myself, post of tea maker, lunch organiser and stop.

I have never been trusted with a flag, but I do have my stick. It has the head of a teal carved on the handle, made by John and vital for steadying me through the brush and undergrowth to where I am frequently banished.

Well today I thought, I’m going to surprise them all and cheer up Fizz our sheepdog by taking her with me. With a bound she was into the back of the car and snuggled up to a surprised Moss. It would not be the first time Fizz has been to a shoot, as in the interim period two years ago between losing our Labrador Pip and Moss being too young to take out, John had taken her with him when he was beating.

Now Fizz has a slight tendency to be bossy, which you need to have the upper hand/paw with sheep, and a little aggressive, note the lumps taken out of the windowsill in the porch and the gate into the yard. This entrance does sport a profusion of notices warning that the sheepdog is very protective of the premises. You are advised to ring the big old warning bell and also, if you ignore these notices and come straight in, beware a false welcome from her. Fizz has her breed’s tendency to sneak up behind and give you a sharp nip on the back of your leg. All perfectly useful traits when you have a flock of sheep to move along.

But on the lead and out in company Fizz is a softy. Although I did not let her off until each drive was finished, she rarely left my side and only ran over to John and Moss when we were walking back to the shoot trailer. In there she tucked herself under my seat and ignored the questing noses of spaniels and labradors checking out this new addition to their doggy clique. Not once did she growl or raise her hackles as yet another intimacy was suggested. And gratefully wolfed down the spare sausage rolls which are a perk of being with the beater who does all the clearing up after lunch. Me.

“We should have brought her with us all season,” John commented as we drove home at the end of the day. We certainly should. And we certainly will come this autumn.