Man's best friend

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Now Lassie really can come home. The word is that dogs and cats from the United States and Canada may soon be allowed to enter Britain without the ordeal of a six-month period of quarantine. Ministers are considering a proposal that the pet passport scheme be extended to give North American pets the same treatment as those travelling from Europe.

This is excellent news. Too much misery, both for pets and their owners, has been caused by our current laws. There is the most moving story, for example, of the actress Elizabeth Taylor. Ms Taylor was upset to learn that she could not bring her beloved Maltese terrier, Sugar, into the UK so she could witness her investiture as a Dame at Buckingham Palace (that's Liz's investiture, not Sugar's). Bill Clinton was similarly disappointed when he learned that his chocolate labrador Buddy, sadly no longer with us, couldn't accompany him on an official visit.

But soon, we hope, we will be able to entertain on our shores President Bush's handsome Scottish terrier Barney, who seems a lively sort of mutt. Our special relationship with America can and should have a canine dimension.