Well, it's been an exhausting business but now, after six long months, it looks as if I've finally got The Mother into a home - mine.

We've sold her house and by this time next week we will be living together, just the two of us, like a couple of salt and pepper pots. Well, no, not quite. It will, of course, be just the three of us. How could I forget The Dog?

Very easily if I had my way. "It's an old dog, it won't like change, it won't settle," I've told her, thinking the same might well apply to her.

"I reckon it's best you leave it at your house, along with all the other fixtures and fittings. It's a quiet dog, the new people won't even know it's there . . . "

The Mother just looks at me as if I'm the one who's barking (nothing new in that, of course) and goes back to telling the dog how nice it will be for it to live nearer the park and that it can still sleep upstairs.

I don't think the dog sharing her bedroom is a very good idea and tell her so. I point out that the animal's back legs are weak - another sign of old age - and the stairs in my house are steep. "And," I add, "there aren't any banisters."

The 'Are You Mad?' expression flits across her face again as she tells me the dog doesn't use the banisters.

"Yes, but you do," I say. "If there aren't any banisters to support you, you might slip or fall over the dog."

But The Mother is adamant. The dog must sleep upstairs, even if this means we have to carry her between us, upstairs and down again.

I want The Mother to feel at home, truly I do, so not wanting to appear unkind I shrug and say, "OK, it's your dog and your bedroom." I don't add: "And my b . . . . . house!"

The Mother sighs. "There's a very good reason I want her to sleep upstairs. I'm not just being soft," she says, scratching the top of the dog's head.

"Why's that?" I ask.

The Mother looks upset.

"C'mon," I say, putting my arm across her shoulders and giving them a squeeze. "I'm sorry I sounded mean. You know I was only joking, I like the dog, I really do. Tell me what's bothering you."

"Well," says The Mother, "it's important she sleeps upstairs so she can wake me in the morning, to let me know she needs to go out and . . ."

"Yes," I say quickly. "That is very important."

The Mother still looks uneasy. "C'mon," I say again, patting her hand. "I understand. Is there something else?"

She sighs again and nods: "Well, I'm afraid she wasn't able to wake me a couple of times this week and she, hmm, she had a little accident in the hallway . . . "

I flinch. The truth is out. I am not simply taking on a pensioner and her dearly beloved pet; I am taking on a pensioner and an incontinent dog.

The Mother speaks again: "So actually, you're right, I don't think she ought to sleep in my bedroom. You're a light sleeper -I think she should sleep with you!"