I JUST spent a few quality days with my wee sister.

I still call her my 'wee' sister, despite her just celebrating her 60th birthday, balancing her first grandchild on her lap while simultaneously managing to consume a refreshingly chilled glass of Prosecco without spilling either child or a drop.

She spent considerable effort trying to persuade me that my three working dogs should come into her house where they ‘could lie on the rug’, despite me pointing out they were very comfortable sleeping in the pickup on a 10cm memory foam mattress laid over with deep pile vetbed. But that’s sisters for you.

As ever, the conversation nostalgically returned to our youth and, inevitably, dogs. Growing up, we were a 'doggy' family.

We did also own a cat called Fred. Actually that's rubbish. You can't, in my opinion, own a cat, as they pick you. Fred was an occasionally loving individual who would stretch languidly out on your knee to be stroked, then, without warning, sink his teeth deep into the sensitive tissue of your thigh before strolling outside to catch an adult rabbit or two.

These would then be deposited, half dead, under the kitchen table. Like I said, we were a 'doggy' family.

As I recalled childhood incidents with my sister, we laughed and cried and it dawned on us how much of our youth was catalogued in our memories by our dogs.

We remembered our yellow Labrador, 'Petra', who returned us to the days of Blue Peter on television and the difficulty in keeping yellow hairs off a blue school blazer. I winced at the recollection of my Mum's pride and joy; a pair of Chihuahuas she had named 'Kissy' and 'Pooch'.

Requiring your fifteen year old son to chase around the local park shouting those names showed the wicked side of her sense of humour. I am sure she thought it was character building.

As my sister and I munched crisps (we are definitely a crisp rather than a chocolate family), we laughed about our mad spaniel, Trudie, who once managed to consume the entire contents of a 5kg tub of cheap catering margarine. She lay beside the piano and groaned for three days after that. The dog that is, not my wee sister.

As the night progressed, we moved on to our own individual family pets; the dogs that our children have been nurtured by. We smiled about her stubborn Beagle, Jess, and her black Labrador, Baz, who fought a constant battle with hip and elbow dysplasia but who resolutely maintained the happy demeanour of a loyal family pet, teaching her children resilience and dignity, stoicism and understanding.

Again there were tears through the laughter. Wee Scud, our rescue dog had us smiling and crying too, as I realised how much confidence she had given my children to go out and play with her by their side; always constant, always dependable.

There is no doubt our pets are every bit as much part of our family history as the people. Now where’s that pickup?