MILLE and Fizz are not impressed. Our terrier and sheepdog feel their positions as top dogs in the household are under threat of being usurped by a small, brown and white intruder. Moss, our new spaniel puppy.

We are trying our best to integrate Moss into the canine hierarchy and acknowledge that our two older dogs will be feeling somewhat miffed at the familiar way Moss climbs onto their bean bags, disrespectfully tugs at their ears and shamelessly climbs up onto the sofa for a cuddle.

It has been a big decision whether to replace the sudden loss of Pip our Labrador with a spaniel or another lab. Holly, our previous springer spaniel, was much -loved and a fabulous gun dog. Pip too could not wait to jump in the back of the Land Rover for a day's shooting. But when he had to make the choice between which breed of dog would suit him best, John plumped for a spaniel.

Moss comes from an impeccable hierarchy of shooting dogs. Although not literally gun toting, of course, her mum and dad are working dogs on well known grouse estates, and both have lovely, amicable dispositions that qualifies them as family pets as well.

The first few days of any new pet's introduction to an unfamiliar household, with verging on the unwelcoming side of hospitality resident pets, must be very strange. Saying that, Moss is confident and bold and not at all deterred by the low level growls and bristling backs of Mille and Fizz.

But last night it was full state panic. I had gone to the gate to wish a friend goodbye after she had come to see the latest family member. We had been out in the garden and when I returned to the house John had gone back inside the house to the middle sitting room, our snug. There was no sign of Moss. “She is in the dining room,”John told me. But she wasn’t. Nor was she in the garden. Or the paddock. Or the sheds at the back of the house. Or the hedges surrounding the house.

Panic setting in I jumped in the car and drove round the village and into several farmyards. No sign. “I can’t see how she can have got out the house,”John said desperately, “I would swear she came in with me.”

John set off down our lane again and I decided to repeat the search through the dining room, office, downstairs loo, kitchen, pantry, snug and then, as an after thought, the hall leading to the stairs and “best”sitting room. Glancing into the broom cupboard before I ran upstairs I heard a tiny whimper and glimpsed an anxious little face peering out from behind my vacuum cleaner.