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Cocker Spaniel working

Seeing a poodle on the London Underground wearing a red vest with the words ‘Diabetes Medical Dog’ has given me an idea. I have been trying to think of a job for my working cocker spaniel. Currently she is employed one day a week during the shooting season, picking up pheasants.

She likes the work and has a great talent for it. I was advised to get her into employment as soon as possible because working cockers are renowned for needing an occupation. They like to have their brains tasked and little Cydney is no exception. If I don’t give her something to do, she finds something to do and that can be problematic.

When she was just two, I discovered a pile of all the important letters I had never received, but people swore they had sent me, behind the living room sofa. Cydney had been collecting the post as it landed and storing it in a safe place. Possibly, she was trying to protect my feelings because among the many brown envelopes was a letter from the publishers with my latest book sales figures. At least she tried, I suppose.

Soon after that, I got her into gun dog training, and she started picking up birds. The problem is, the shoot is only one day a week from October to February. I asked the trainer: ‘What are we meant to do with these working cockers for the rest of the time?’

He didn’t really have an answer, except to say that I should continue her training. But I am worried about what will happen if Cydney languishes on the dole for the next eight months, even if she is on a jobseekers’ training programme.

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