This is Vinnie, the Beagle. I met Vinnie and his owner at Skylarks Nature Reserve. When they walked along behind us, Vinnie shied away from Jan’s mobility scooter and I commented that dogs often did that. But the real explanation was actually heart-breaking. Vinnie had spent the first three years of his life in a laboratory in France and been with his new owner for just a month. When I bent down to stroke him, he flinched, and any movement, however small, had the same effect. Eventually, after nearly a quarter of an hour’s conversation, he approached me and had a good old sniff, although I still wasn’t allowed to pet him. Vinnie had to be carried back to his owner’s car because nothing would coax him to walk past the scooter. At all times, his owner talked to him in a slow, calm voice and said Vinnie was getting better all the time but it would be a long job. I consider myself a tough old bird, but I shed tears for that dog. I have never given much thought to ‘animal rights’ but you can be sure I will do in the future … and more than just think about it. I hope to meet Vinnie again and see him grow in confidence and courage.