Country mouse: The facts of life

It says much about our country that you have to be better qualified to be a vet than to be a doctor. We are a nation of animal lovers, and my youngest is true to the British stereotype. Anna, aged seven, particularly adores dogs and has astonishing affinity with all types. She is able to soothe an angry Alsatian and, perhaps more remarkably, exert control over our terriers.

So you can imagine her excitement as the day dawned for our terrier, Cracker, to have her puppies. The two made elaborate plans as to where she would have them, both building nests and camps in ever more elaborate places before they settled on Anna’s bed as the perfect location. The day dawned, and Anna ran in to wake us up with the news that ‘Cracker is seriously panting’. A good sign, but a few hours later, nothing had happened, so we took her to the vet to be on the safe side.

The young vet examined her carefully and then X-rayed her, before announcing, to universal astonishment, that she wasn’t pregnant. ‘Why not?’ said Anna with extreme earnestness. ‘I seriously saw them mate five times.’ The vet looked at me nervously. ‘You tell her,’ I said. ‘You’re the vet.’