MY story last week about meeting up with my ‘wee’ sister and reminiscing over the history of our family pets produced an unexpected alarming and angry phone call.

‘Oi!’ said the caller. ‘I just read your article!’ ‘You didn’t mention me!’

It was, of course, my ‘big’ sister who clearly felt aggrieved at being left out. So I shall make amends.

My ‘big’ sister has some notable achievements.

She has been (take a deep breath and try and say it all in one go) a hotel manager, a chef (general), a chef (private), a model, a travel rep, an air stewardess, a full-time mum, a PA to a Lord Mayor, a chauffeur, a purveyor of fine fashion, a caterer, a translator, an estate agent, a travel guide and, most notable of all, was once the owner of a fine pair of Dalmatians.

This majestic spotted breed, which originated in the Croatian region of Dalmatia (hence Dalmatian and definitely not Dalmation) has been around since the 1600s. We know this because Francesco di Cosimo II de' Medici (who died from plague in 1634) was painted with one at his feet by the Flemish portrait artist, Justus Sustermans.

Now my ‘big’ sister is not as old as this but she knew just how much walking these dogs can do, which is not surprising since they were bred to run alongside coaches (pre-McGills, of course), simultaneously guarding and displaying the affluence of the owners.

Generally speaking, if you can stand the short white spikey hairs, they make great family dogs, being loyal and friendly, though they can be suspicious of strangers. Sometimes not a bad thing.

My ‘big’ sister, however, much against my advice, opted to take ownership a stage further and decided that one of her Dalmatians should become a mum. Over the years, it has become quite normal for her to do stuff against my advice, even when I knew much more about the particular subject than she. But, heh. That’s my ‘big’ sister. And I am just her ‘wee’ brother.

Anyway, there was much excitement in her family, as the dog’s tummy gradually grew rounder.

Her children became increasingly excited at the prospect of having little tiny puppy wuppies to look after. As was her wont (and, as usual, totally against my advice; what, after all, would I know?) my ‘big’ sister set aside her best room for the main event.

Through a long, traumatic night, first one, then a second white puppy was born. Then a third. (remember they come out white; the spots don’t appear until later).

By 9am, when the step by step commentary abruptly ceased and I was curtly summoned to help, nine perfect puppies had been produced but one was clearly stuck.

I can never work out if there is less or more pressure in treating your own family’s pets but that’s what you’ve got to do.

Happily, the tenth pup was successfully delivered. My ‘big’ sister beamed with pride and announced, memorably, ‘I’ve done so well, I think I could be a veterinary nurse!’ And then she fainted...