My neighbour just came over to offer me a box of what she called ‘doggie breath mints’. My first response was to wonder what she was trying to say about Muffie. His breath is just fine, thank you very much! But then I realised that she’d made them herself and was handing them out to all the dog owners on the street, so I accepted the gesture.

Turns out, the breath mints in question are more like dog biscuits laced with fresh parsley and mint, along with oats and coconut oil – kind of a cute idea. I gave one to Muffie, and I’ll admit that he did smell a bit sweeter afterwards (even though he virtually swallowed the thing whole, despite it barely fitting in his mouth).

I take canine dental care pretty seriously, as does our guy at the Brighton vet clinic I take Muffie to. He’s getting on a bit – Muffie, not the vet – and needs a bit of extra attention in that department these days, although I’m pleased to say that his chompers remain relatively strong and healthy. Still, my neighbour’s herbal remedy doesn’t seem to hurt, especially to have on hand for when Muffie comes barrelling over to give some unsuspecting visitor a sloppy smooch on the face.

Muffie’s never really had much in the way of health issues – he’s a model of canine vitality. There was that one time he was limping after taking a tumble off the balcony, but that only lasted a couple of weeks following a trip to the emergency vet. Bayside area locals are probably familiar with Muffie tumbling off things in a fit of excitement: benches, trams, gutters, you name it. So, all things considered, he’s had a very good run in terms of narrowly avoiding injuries caused by over-excitement (and forgetting how small he is).

For such a tiny and delicate-looking dog, Muffie is surprisingly resilient. He doesn’t get that shivery thing in winter like many chihuahuas do, and he can give the bigger dogs at the park a run for their money in the rough-and-tumble play department. I maintain that he was a Labrador in a past life, because he behaves like one.

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