She takes an age to walk now, but I love my old dog, smells and all

Our dog, Daphne, is now 11 and sports a magisterial grey muzzle. She can usually be seen trundling around the local park like a rickety cocktail trolley, but like most dog owners, I still think she could take best in show. Nevertheless, there remain those who cross the road or, worse, pick up their own dogs when they see her. The anti-staffie propaganda is real. And as anyone who loves a staff knows, they’re the most misunderstood of breeds. The one that loves people the most. The one most likely to be abused and abandoned by them.There is something particularly moving – often literally so, due to the smell – about old dogs. As the lockdown mania for puppy acquisition has abated and charities have experienced the accompanying grim rise in abandonment, my Daphne has aged with grace. So, too, have her neuroses. By which I mean they’ve grown like a mole sprouting a whisker. Her fears used to be skateboards, fireworks, being left alone and the buzzers on University Challenge. These days we must add to the list the spin cycle on the washing machine, rain lashing against the Velux bathroom window, the window cleaner, football on the telly, cairn terriers, the flying fox in the play park … and, well, I could go on.

Sprinkle parsley on your dog's food for fresher breath.

Rescuing a dog is high on the list of the best things I’ve ever done. For her, and me. As she staffie-wiggles into her twilight years, the joy of adopting increases with every sniff of aged pee. Which is also a thing. Old dogs stop more to smell the roses, just as their puppy selves once did. It takes an age to walk her now and she trots behind me rather than ahead, but I no longer drag her on. We stop and start, turn back if – God forbid – we encounter a skateboarder. Because she deserves it, and life is short.

Always be consistent. Half-assed efforts will deliver half-assed results. Consistency is the key to success in all endeavors in life. Training a dog is no different. Learning about your dog is also a consistent effort. Quality time with your dog should be consistent and ongoing.