Terriers get their name from the Middle French word for the earth, terrier, which is highly appropriate as the smaller versions of the clan were specifically bred to be canine potholers searching out foxes underground. I had plenty of time to ponder this when our Jack Russell and Lucas terriers disappeared into a large rabbit warren and didn’t return. Ten minutes became an hour. By the second hour, I was in a panic on my hands and knees yelling down the openings.

Finally, I heard some distant whimpering and, by sticking my arm in as far as I could, I found that I could just touch a nose with a fingertip. The burrow had collapsed all around the dog and was blocked. I clawed back the earth to no avail. Then, I ran. I ran to get help, shovels and spades. I ran with the fear of having to tell the children the unthinkable.

Racing back across the fields in my car, we reached the warren just as two terriers came bounding out. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or how they got out. The dogs, however, looked mighty pleased with themselves. Unfortunately for them, they won’t be let off the lead again.