For this month’s Paws for Thought column, KAREN HUNTON enjoys life in a family bubble

AS lockdown restrictions ease I am delighted to say that I have been able to form a support bubble with my daughter and her family, which means that as long as we respect social distancing, we can now visit each other’s houses and even stay overnight.

So last week, as Vicky and her husband Peter, were both working the same shift, on the same day (both being nurses), for the first time in three months, my granddaughters came to stay.

It was gratifying to see the girls were almost as excited as I was at the prospect of a sleepover, but on their part this may have been partly due at least, to the fact that they hadn’t yet had the chance to properly meet Jamie, the dog that I adopted just before lockdown.

Due to lockdown, Jamie hasn’t had the chance to meet many folk either and it is becoming increasingly apparent how nervous and unsure he is with people that he doesn’t know. His tail still wags, but he likes to keep to a safe distance, which is preferably behind my legs.

Looking back, there have been no visitors to the house since he came to live with me, so the girls arrival was quite daunting, but it didn’t take him long to adjust.

Within an hour he had gotten used to the fact that not only were the girls not going to hurt him, but that they were actually quite good fun and willing participants in all manner of games from fetch the ball, which is probably his favourite, to playing ‘tuggy’ with one of several tuggy-rope toys.

Simply put, Jamie likes attention and he will go to whatever lengths it takes in order to get it.

His latest ploy is to bring you a ball, a tuggy or a soggy Tiger and drop it on your lap. Tiger has lost all of his stuffing, his ears and his nose. He is a bit smelly, but he is still stripy and that is all that matters, well that and the fact that he is loved.

Jamie would, I am sure, never tire of playing, so after a while I did suggest that maybe he needed a little rest. Within a few minutes of being left alone, he had gathered up some of his favourite toys and taken them under the coffee table where he fell asleep with his nose touching his tuggy-rope.

Undoubtedly, the girls are now Jamie’s best friends, with Brigadier quite content to watch their antics in between snoozes on the sofa, as befitting a gentleman of his age.

With our schools still closed both Bethany and Maisie have been very conscientious in keeping up with their school work, some of which they brought with them on Friday, but that morning Bethany also had a Zoom ballet lesson.

The iPad was duly set up on the coffee table and a dining room chair utilised as a substitute for the bar.

Maisie and I kept out of the way so as not to distract her, but I do love watching Bethany dance and couldn’t resist the odd peek.

But at some point, Jamie had decided to join in. Very much the professional dancer, Bethany continued with her lesson, trying her level best to ignore him, albeit with a very wide smile on her face.

Her ballet teacher, fortunately, we don’t think noticed, at least she had not passed comment before I was able to retrieve him.

Meanwhile, Jamie’s penchant for dancing has planted a seed and Bethany is now thinking along the lines of Britain’s Got Talent.

Hence most of the afternoon was taken up with some basic obedience training, ending with some snazzy heel work to music and I must say, for a pair of beginners, they were actually quite impressive. Watch this space.