In Defence of Dogs, by John Bradshaw

Carlotta. Buffer. Marmaduke. Folly. Daphne. Flo. These were the names of my beloved dogs and I could never forget them.

DefenceOfDogsCoverCarlotta. Buffer. Marmaduke. Folly. Daphne. Flo. These were the names of my beloved dogs and I could never forget them.

Flo is very much alive still, sitting on my feet as I write this. But the others are sadly in doggy heaven - chasing rabbits in a dappled meadow, of that I am sure.

Dogs get a bad press in Brighton. The "pick up the poo" brigade is very vocal indeed (I would like to assure everyone that I always do) and the banning of dogs from public places seems to be getting wider (unlike in Paris, where our four-legged friends are welcome in restaurants and shops to no detriment that I can see).

But reading this book to understand dogs is a revelation. Yes, they are descended from wolves; and yes, they are bred to suit our purposes. Bradshaw makes it very clear what those purposes are in the 21st century, mainly for companionship.

What a great companion a dog makes. This book has some wonderful tips and facts that are astounding: dogs that can alert people suffering from diabetes, for instance, letting them know when they have dangerously low-blood sugar levels, thanks to an acute sense of smell.

There are also some touching line drawings, including one of a human skeleton found cradling the bones of a small dog in its arms, a staggering 14,000 years ago in Germany.

It seems that throughout time dogs have been our constant companion. And, for that, I am very grateful.