In July 2013 we bought our first house together. We spent the following months repairing the devastation that had been caused by the previous occupant’s cat; polyfilla, paint and practical solutions for removing cat urine were all my pals.

By September 2013 the makeover was complete. Our house had the look of a scene from a John Lewis catalogue and its organisation and straight lines would have been the pride and joy of anyone in the land with a bad case of OCD.

As we surveyed our nest in all its glory, we agreed it probably wasn’t the best time to get a dog.

The other half was in agreement with this as we had our annual snowboarding holiday booked for February of the next year. It would be unfair to get a dog and place it in a kennel for the week whilst we were away.

And then the stepfather got involved.

Usually a man who could be depended on to throw his full (and considerable) weight behind the sensible solution when it came to owning a dog, he let himself down one afternoon as we all enjoyed a Sunday lunch.

We had wrongly assumed that as he has two dogs of his own to look after (a red setter and a german short haired pointer) that looking after anyone else’s dog would be a job he would not want to take on. Even my mum, someone never yet known to turn down a hug on the sofa with her dogs, might struggle to ordain a suitable level of affection onto three dogs at once.

But of course, we were wrong about all of this, and it was at that point that the immortal words that set us on a way to a life with a Shadow began…

‘If you got a dog, we’d look after it whilst you were away…’

We waved goodbye to the family at 2.30pm.

By 3.30pm Zoey had found seven local animal shelters, made four phone calls and identified three ‘possibles’…

The story of one boy and his dog had begun.