The French and their dogs
Almost seven years ago I moved to France with my beloved two Jack Russells, suitably kitted out with passports, rabies shots and microchips.
Jessie and Juba survived the journey very well, thinking nothing of the ferry and spending nights in strange hotels before arriving at our new house. They didn’t even turn a hair when the builders arrived and proceeded to demolish everything in sight in the house. But what we could not get over was the attitude of the French towards their dogs.
We encountered two types of dogs there; the first were certainly pampered pets, teeny little things – Yorkshire terriers, Shiatsu’s and poodles were the most popular. They were only walked for about five minutes every day in between going to the grooming parlours, I even saw nail polish on some!
Their accessories were unbelivable. Diamante collars and leads, and Burberry raincoats- bizarre! Unfortunately now this craze has spread to other countries too. My two rough, tough Jack Russells just looked on in amazement as these dogs paraded past us.
The second type were enormous beasts, usually Rotweillers, Dobermans or Alsatians who are used a guard dogs. They therefore only lived outside with a shelter only just big enough to shelter them. They were fed scraps left over from family meals and consequently were always hungry. I felt sorry for them but boy were they scary.
Once we were established in the village I used to take my girls for long, long walks through the vineyards and over the field to the forest. The villagers were astounded and wondered why?
But I must say our walks were a good way to meet people who always stopped me to say hello and to talk about the girls. We used to pass a series of allotments and regularly came home laden with free fruit and vegetables donated by the chaps who grew them. They didn’t even mind if the girls raced around their plants, and used to laugh as I stood there shouting for them to come back!
It is the law in France, as in England, to clear up after your dog, but I couldn’t find poopy scooper bags in any pet shops. I used plastic bags from the supermarket until my sister kindly sent me boxes of nappy sacks from England which did the job beautifully!
One day disaster struck – when I was in yet another pet shop I saw this poor little Jack Russell cooped up in a glass cage just a little bit larger than your average fish tank. She was scrabbling like mad to get out so I had to buy her.This turned out to be a bit of a mistake.
French dogs definitely have attitude – she strolled into the house as if she owned it, paying scant regard to the other two resident canines. No rolling on the back in a submissive position for her thank you! She also turned out to be a total racist and would try and attack any black dog she saw, regardless of size. Strangely any other coloured dog were acceptable.
Jasmine became bi-lingual but always preferred men to women and would pay scant attention to me. My brother was different question and she did everything he said, it drove me mad.
After a year my beloved eldest dog Jessie had a brain tumour and had to be put down. The villagers used to stop me and ask why I now only had two dogs at which point I would always burst into tears. I refused to take Juba and Jasmine for a walk for two weeks (my brother had to do it) until I could keep some semblance of a stiff upper lip. But I know that the villagers all secretly thought I was completely mad crying about a mere dog.
Sadly after Jessie died the little French bitch started turning on Juba resulting in fearsome fights (I still bear the scars to this day from trying to separate them). So I found a good home for her where she was able to be the little Madame that she always wanted to be.
Unfortunately Juba, without her elder sister for protection, has turned into a complete wimp and is terrified of every dog she comes across. So it is just the two us now and we have returned to live in England.
Poor Juba has been completely confused by the weather – where has the sunshine gone? What is this cold wet white stuff Mum?
I did go and buy her a smart navy blue coat but if I put it on her she refused to budge so it rests in the cupboard. You never know when it might come in useful.
So despite the weather we are happy to be back here and at least I can buy poopy bags easily!
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