IS THERE anything more soul-sapping than waiting in the car while your partner shops?

What starts as mild boredom can quickly turn to resentment, then simmering rage before utter hopelessness sets in and the "victim" struggles to remember a life before The Wait.

Nowadays there are mobile phones to help you while away your life, but once in-car entertainment was limited to unfurling and reading old receipts from the glove compartment, searching for obscure broadcasts on the LW frequency or, if you were really desperate, reading your car manual.

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Despite today's hi-tech distractions, it's still a drag, which is why the proactive response of Fern the boxer has raised a smile. The dog caused an online stir when footage emerged of her expressing displeasure at being left behind while her owners shopped. Fern wasted no time in manoeuvring herself into the front seat and holding her paw firmly on the horn until they re-appeared 15 minutes later.

The tale reminded me of our old family dog Sandy, a redoubtable mutt who was famed for never leaving an emotion unexpressed. In a similar scenario, Sandy suffered the indignity of being left alone on the back seat. Fast-forward 10 minutes and we emerged from the shop to a scene I will never forget. A commotion had emerged where our car had once been. The headlights were flashing and the alarm sounding and, in the midst of the chaos, Sandy was sitting nonchalantly behind the wheel chewing on gum.

On her abandonment, Sandy had evidently leapt into the driver's seat, which had triggered the motion-sensitive car alarm. Once there, she thought she'd help herself to some of the snacks on hand to add weight to her protest. The sight of a dog chewing gum is one that will never leave me.

As the dogs know only too well, sounding the horn is an effective way of attracting attention. Which can sometimes be a problem. In his student days, my brother owned a decrepit old car which had a catalogue of faults. Once, on turning on the ignition, an electrics malfunction meant the horn came on. Continually. He and his chums faced a two-hour drive but reasoned that, once they got going, the horn would surely stop. It didn't. Speeding down the motorway with the horn blasting was bad. Sitting at city-centre traffic lights alongside other cars who presumed they were being beeped at was very bad. In fact, on reflection, probably more soul-sapping than waiting while your partner shops.