2 OCTOBER 2007

Her arm placed lovingly around her canine pal, the little girl gazes happily at the camera and draws the pooch closer in a warm hug. The touching 1936 image is no ordinary family memento, however, as the little girl in question would grow up to be the Queen of England and her companion was one of a long line of royal pets.

The photo just one of a series of never-before-seen snaps which appear in a new book entitled Noble Hounds And Dear Companions, which details the much-loved animals who've shared their lives with the royal family.

In the snap the young princess embraces one of the first royal corgis, bought for Elizabeth and her sister Margaret after they pleaded to have one like their neighbour's. When he arrived the pedigree puppy had a name to match - Rozavel Golden Eagle - but was soon given the more user-friendly moniker of Dookie.

Other shots from the collection show Elizabeth and her mother, then Duchess of York, with the family's golden labrador Glen, and Princess Margaret as a toddler - her hand resting trustingly on the tail of one of the larger animals - sharing the steps of the royal residence of Birkhall with several other canine pals.

Many of the photographs are taken from the private album of King George VI, who appears in one of the pictures sharing a garden bench with his wife and a sleepy looking Glen.

"The dogs are lovely, but I think the photographs also show a different more human side of many of their owners," says the book's creator, Sophie Gordon, curator of the royal photograph collection.

Photo: ©
The picture of Princess Elizabeth and her beloved Dookie is just one of a series of never-before-seen snaps included in a new book detailing the royal family's much-loved pets Photo: © The Royal Collection 2007 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II/PAClick on photos for gallery
Photo: ©
Another photo from the collection shows the future Queen and her mother, the then Duchess of York, with Glen, the family's golden labrador Photo: © The Royal Collection 2007 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II/PA