It might sound strange to start your blog off with a piece on something small and hairy but it’s the little things that count in life. Or so I’m told. I am of course talking about our pet dog Twinkle, a miniature Jack Russell terrier who has breath so pungent it could strip paint from walls, paws the size of postage stamps and could easily pass as a stunt double for the dog from The Artist. But what Twinkle lacks in stature she more than makes up for in attitude. As a family we might kindly be described as robustious.

A few other choice adjectives spring to mind! You can usually hear myself, my husband and our two boys, aged 6 and 2, coming from a different postcode. Our house in Twickenham is loud, boisterous and chaotic. It’s not unusual to see one child firing an imaginary canon at a neighbour from the upstairs window, with another escaping from the downstairs window. Yet despite living in a battleground where only the strongest survive, the tiniest member of the household has a big place within it. Twinkle has most definitely put her own indelible paw print on family life. When my eldest son is in danger of collapsing into a major melt down he has only has to curl up on the sofa with Twinkle and within two minutes of cuddling up with her, his breathing begins to steady and his restless body finally stills. It’s a remarkable thing to behold.

I could tell him 50 times to calm down and he wouldn’t listen. It’s as if Twinkle is his furry stress ball, somehow sensing when he needs her to soothe him. She’s the first to get a kiss from him in the morning, and the last to get a hug goodnight. Twinkle weaves a special kind of magic, and for that I can forgive her death breath. And it’s not just my son for whom Twinkle has played a starring role. My remarkable grandfather Alan bequeathed her to us after he died, and Twinkle meant every bit as much to him as she does to my son. I wrote about our unusual inheritance for a piece in the Daily Mail last May. Naturally I was reticent about baring my soul in the Mail. I have done this on other occasions with not such, er, positive results. I’ll never forget the morning I woke up to find myself branded Britain’s worst wife (the inbox has finally been cleared of hate mail) but that’s for another blog. On this occasion the infamous Daily Mail trolls didn’t work themselves into a lather and the comments were largely kind, proving we are a nation of animal lovers. When I’m not writing about dogs and damnation I will be blogging about some of the incredible true-life stories I am privileged to cover for newspapers, magazines and books.