AND the long, convoluted, incredible story finished with her saying: ‘Then he went straight home and ate his tea before I could stop him.’

I really couldn’t believe it.

Not for the first time in my career, I marvelled at the heroic tenacity and resilience of our pet animals.

I have seen dogs limping in, wagging their tails despite horrific limb fractures.

I remember with awe a cat who dragged himself home, seemingly oblivious to the trap that was cruelly attached to both his two front legs.

I have witnessed dogs with wounds the size of dinner plates bouncing happily on and off the waiting room chairs.

I have watched as patients have jumped all over their owners mere minutes after major abdominal surgery that would have had us pathetic humans stuck in bed for a fortnight or more.

Animals’ ability to mask discomfort, hide pain and put on a brave face is admirable (even though on occasions it is most unhelpful to owners who are unable to detect injury or illness as a result).

But Bertie took this aptitude to a new level.

This amiable Staffie Cross had been out for a walk when he encountered his nemesis; the big, nasty German Shepherd who lived down the street (in truth, he was big, but he wasn’t nasty and I personally knew both dogs individually to be honest and decent).

Neither owner could fathom why the two dogs detested each other so much. The dogs had never actually met; only growled menacingly at each other across the road. There had never been a fracas of any description, just a lot of noise and posturing.

The sort of ‘If I get let off this lead, you’re getting it!’ kind of attitude that many male dogs give off. It is not uncommon behaviour when testosterone levels are high and aggression is returned with vigour.

Today, however was different. Bertie had been walking past the German Shepherd’s garden when the latter appeared out of nowhere, barking furiously with white teeth bared in a way that surely would have frightened the toughest of dogs.

Maybe it was because his owner also got a fright. Maybe he never really thought it through. But what Bertie did next had lifelong repercussions.

Going instantly into all-out attack mode, he opened his jaws wide and lunged at the German Shepherd. Had he managed to grip him, the damage would have been devastating. But there was a slight problem.

Situated between the two dogs was a dividing fence, composed of vertical iron railings. Bertie, in his eagerness, somehow managed to catch his four canine teeth around two rails and there he stuck fast, unable to open his mouth wide enough to get back off.

A considerable period of tussling with the fence then ensued until, with a stomach churning crack, he released himself by neatly breaking all four big teeth off at the gumline. I cannot imagine how sore that would have been, as the nerves were completely exposed in the fractured stumps.

But Bertie went home and ate his dinner…