If you’re thinking about adding a dog to your family, then obviously I’d incur the wrath of Rachel Fenwick if I didn’t encourage you very strongly to talk to some rescues first…

One of the charities closest to my heart after writing A Hundred Pieces of Me is Forever Hounds (which used to be Greyhound Rescue West of England), which works tirelessly to find homes for retired and abandoned greyhounds and lurchers. Forever Hounds has a presence across much of the UK and goes many a mile to find the right sofa for their hounds, many of whom are barely out of puppyhood though they’re ‘retired’.

And with grizzly old Tavish the Scottie from The Secret of Happy Ever After in mind, don’t rule out the idea of an older dog too: Oldies Club try to spring senior doggy citizens from rescue, and put them in foster homes to minimise the stress of rehoming – canine ‘old age’ begins at 7, which for many dogs can leave plenty of years of love left to give a new owner.

Rescue shelters are great sources of advice, and are always happy to answer any questions about the reality of dog ownership for first time owners. Other good places to start, with branches all over the UK, include:

And The Dog Rescue Pages (www.dogpages.org.uk/) is a fantastic website which helps you search for small local rescues in your area, as well as contacts for breed rescues if you have your heart set on a particular kind of dog.