Just over a fortnight ago, the last blogpost I wrote on my old blog was devoted to a tribute to my Jack Russell, Gio. He had died, less than twenty four hours earlier. I make no apology for returning to the subject today. I have been incredibly touched by the letters and emails I have received from readers from all over the world. Indeed, never has a blogpost provoked such an emotional reaction. I guess everyone who has ever owned a pet could relate to the terrible experience John and I were going through.

It is a cliché, I know, but time is a healer, and it dims the pain. But it will take some time for the grieving process to finish. The house seems to so empty. No pit patter of tiny paw on the floorboards, warning of an imminent arrival. No barking when dinner is ready. No fur to hoover up from the red carpet every day. No dog bowl by the kitchen sink. No smell of dog in my office. There are so many reminders of the little beast who filled our lives with such joy.

I wanted to bury Gio on my parents’ farm in Essex – the place I still call home. It’s a property that’s never likely to leave my family and Gio used to love going there and playing with his Jack Russell ‘cousin’ Spike. But John insisted that we should have him cremated and keep his ashes in a box. I’ve never liked the idea of cremation and have always thought there was something vaguely barbaric about it. I’ve got it written in my own will that I am to be buried, not cremated. Indeed, I do everything I can to avoid going to any funeral that takes place in a crematorium. The sight of the coffin disappearing is one of the most horrific things a human being can experience. Anyway, in the end I agreed to it, and on Thursday Gio came home. Or at least his ashes did. In some ways, there’s something vaguely comforting about the fact that he is back in his own domain and that if I want to I can go and sit by his little box and have a chat with him. The trouble is, every time I do that, I know that the waterworks will start again.

Many kind people said we were wrong to think that getting a new dog would be betraying Gio’s memory. In fact they were very persuasive. No dog can ever replace Gio, but we have now decided that in the autumn we will welcome not one, but two new dogs into our lives. We’ll get another rescue Jack Russell and we’ve already chosen a mini Schnauzer. They will be company for each other. But they have a lot to live up to!