I thought I was barking mad to agree to a lockdown puppy - but I was wrong

One of the many to have acquired a puppy during lockdown, Gary Shipton writes how the arrival of Teddy helped his family through these trying times.

Teddy has helped diffuse the tensions of lockdown (Photo: Gary Shipton)

Since she arrived in our home six months ago, she has displayed little culinary discernment.

Titbits of roast chicken are consumed by our lockdown puppy Teddy with the same ravenous enthusiasm as a pile of steaming horse manure stumbled upon during a country walk.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The snatched mouthful of a plastic poo bag complete with its contents - recklessly discarded by a thoughtless dog owner on the pavement - resulted in a prolonged visit to the vets.

Teddy the 'puff-ball'

And plaster-work in the house, wood and anything else she can wrap her jaws around have been ingested with the same playful abandon.

Today, however, came the first sign of a maturing palate. An innocent ladybird that had had the misfortune to wander across the carpet was both scooped up by Teddy's lizard-like tongue and promptly spat out. It was the first meal she had rejected. The victim of her assault remains in intensive care.

I finally conceded to the arrival of Teddy after a campaign of lobbying by the rest of the family.

Lockdown, like Christmas, seemed a poor choice of timing to acquire a young dog - and while I have always loved our four legged friends I have never misunderstood the amount of time, care, cost and patient training they demand.

Read More

Read More
Why are people stealing dogs? Dog theft surge during lockdown explained - and ho...

So when she arrived on October 2, floating curiously like a puff-ball across the front lawn, I barely glanced up from my work Zoom call to take in the magnitude of what her appearance heralded.

For a tiny little wisp of life, she has a mighty powerful voice.

She exercised it with operatic gusto during the many nights of acclimatising her to sleeping in her crate.

And as lockdown re-tightened following the autumn reprieve, she has barked with great force at the very few visitors to the house - those that bring letters and parcels, for no others have been welcomed.

A little hernia surgery resulted in her sporting a bucket-like bonnet to prevent her damaging the stitches and she took full advantage of our sympathies to move from night-time crate to a new position at the foot of the bed.

"How is her training going?" I am frequently asked.

I am forced to confess that she is training us very effectively and running the household agenda more confidently in a matter of months than I have managed to achieve in decades.

Truth be told, that as frantic and boisterous as she is, she has brought with her a certain calm and she has diffused the tensions of an extraordinary 12 months for all of us here that no amount of pills from the GPs' surgery could have achieved.

Needless to say, I am the most devoted and adoring of her fans. The one who spoils her most; the most attentive to her needs.

We have always been a nation of dog-lovers and millions of us have acquired pets during lockdown.

Thefts of dogs have soared and no doubt investments in veterinary shares and the manufacturers of animal treats will have paid dividends.

But from my simple perspective, our puppy could not have brought more gentle joy and love at a time when it was most needed.

I know I'm not alone in that experience.

If you have acquired a lockdown dog or pet of any description please share your experiences with us on our Facebook page.

Gary Shipton is Editor In Chief of NationalWorld's weekly newspapers across Sussex.