LAST Saturday I lost Brigadier, my best friend and companion for the last 12 years. He has left a huge, Brig-shaped hole in my life and in my heart, but this is not going to be a sad read because Brig never was, despite at times having more than his fair share of bad luck. Whatever life threw at him, Brig always bounced back with a waggy tail and a nose keen to sniff out those treats.

It has been heart-warming to read the lovely messages and cards received from people who knew him, one of them being from our homeopathic consultant, Dr Sue Armstrong, who described him as “such a brave little soul, he really did epitomise the ‘make the most of it mantra’ ”, and that, he certainly did. I will always remember Brigadier as a happy, bouncy boy who loved food, going for walks, riding in the car and (so I like to think) me, and probably in that order.

Born in 2008 by emergency Caesarean section, Brig was one of my last home-bred Merritime puppies and is survived by his sister Millie (Merritime Forget-Me-Not), who lives with my daughter and her family.

Despite being the biggest in the litter, I remember having to rescue him, on more than one occasion, from his sisters who used to gang up on him and swing from his ears.

In the early years, along with his mum Jennifer and his sister Izzy, we enjoyed many caravanning and camping trips, often to horse shows to watch the family compete.

The dogs always knew when we were preparing for a trip and oh my, the excitement was almost too much for them and too noisy for me to bear.

In the space of the last two years, we lost both Brig’s sister and his mother, and he missed them both dreadfully.

His health deteriorated noticeably after Jennifer’s death last April, so much so that in February of this year we adopted Jamie, a six month old puppy, through the Northern Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Welfare Society.

Despite a very shaky start, thanks to Brig’s patience and guidance Jamie has blossomed in to a lovely, well-balanced boy who has certainly made the last few days a little easier to bear.

As a friend commented recently, maybe Jamie was sent to us at exactly the right time.

I know I have said this before, but I am sure that I am not alone when I say that it doesn’t matter how many dogs you live with, or how many dogs you lose, it never gets any easier.

But to follow Brig’s example and to honour his memory, I have decided that we really should try to live by his mantra and to make the most each day of everything that we have, so today I took Jamie on his first-ever trip to the beach. When we lived in Marske a few years ago, Jennifer, Izzy, Brigadier and myself all loved walking by the sea.

Jamie was very unsure when he first saw the beach and especially of the waves. But he has had a good mentor over the last few months and although he kept very close, he did follow me down to the water’s edge.

We passed a group of ladies on the way, enjoying what seemed to be a yoga class and this Jamie found very interesting.

He loved the seagulls, but didn’t quite know what to make of the sea, and he certainly didn’t like the way that the water came towards him, or the way that the sand moved beneath his paws when the waves went back out.

Although it was devastating that due to Covid restrictions I could not be with Brigadier at the end, it was fitting I felt, that the vet who had brought him into the world on May 8, 2008, was the one who helped him to leave on September 5, 2020.

And so Merritime Brigadier, yet another era comes to an end and would I change any of it if I could? I think not for looking back, all in all, what a “merry ole time” we had.