Me and My Pet - Jane Chamberlain and Dino the Bichon Frisé

Jane and Dino take a stroll (looks a bit parky for Paris)

Jane and Dino take a stroll (looks a bit parky for Paris) - Credit: Archant

Growing up, animals were always important. As a young child, holidays were spent with my mum’s extended family in Ireland. Most of them were farmers and a trip always involved avoiding coming home with a whole retinue of animals.

A jaunty scarf? We don’t think Dino could look more French if he tried

A jaunty scarf? We don’t think Dino could look more French if he tried - Credit: Archant

On one memorable trip, I was gifted a piglet with two noses. I was delighted with his porcine uniqueness but, needless to say, he was discreetly ‘forgotten’ by my parents and didn’t make it back home with me.

My mum’s family were completely unsentimental about animals. My grandmother’s resident turkey (being reared, unbeknownst to me, for Christmas) would wander into her cottage whenever anyone left the door open and have to be chased out by Granny Martha Jane wielding a broom. I like to think she’s where I get not only my name but also my feisty side from.

Later, living in the Yorkshire countryside in a farmhouse which had previously been part of the Fountains Abbey estate, my penchant for animals got slightly out of control. At one time we had five cats (including two inherited as mousers with the house) and two Labradors who had closely studied Houdini’s techniques and liked to escape into the surrounding countryside.

Working from the converted dairy, it was a pleasure to be able to take the dogs to work each day – especially during the winter when the wind blew over from Brimham Rocks and a built-in foot warmer was asleep under my desk.

Over the years, cats have come and gone but two of those original animals, Milly and Basil moved with us to Harrogate and have, along with our latest acquisition, Dino, become real animals about town.

Dino is a Bichon Frisé who came to live with us in 2011. He needed a new home, came for a short holiday and somehow just stayed.

He loves company and suffers from separation anxiety – not surprising when you consider he is on his third home in 14 years. As he’s got older his hearing has deteriorated, he suffers from what the vet calls an ‘almost slipped disc’ and has a heart murmur. Despite all this, he has a lovely nature and is sweet but not particularly biddable – even when he could actually hear he would wilfully ignore instructions.

According to his pet passport, he was born in the South of France so I put this independent streak in him down to him speaking French rather than English.

Being a smaller dog, Dino easily fits into our lives, which is just as well as he’s determined never to be left behind. Nowadays, he’s a bit slower than he was but he’s equally happy exploring Studley Royal Park or the Valley Gardens, as snoring under a table in one of Harrogate’s many coffee shops.

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Dogs have been demonstrated to reduce stress levels and Dino certainly does that in spades, and not just for me. He still enjoys his regular office days, giving us canine insights into client issues, as well as trotting through to see my colleagues. Quite simply, I can’t imagine life without him.

Jane Chamberlain is director of Cicada Communications in Harrogate. For more information, visit

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