17 January 2006

A sea of dogs for Christmas

Christmas Eve
Christmas and New Year passed in a blur of dogs: labradors, goldens, spaniels, Jack Russell terriers, a couple of Bedlingtons, Vizlas, a highly strung Weimaraner, a lovely old hunting dog, a wire-haired dachshund, a poodle, a Tibetan spaniel and more. Some stayed just for Christmas, some came for New Year, others were here for the duration. It’s always the busiest time at Pension Milou and every year I say I will take fewer dogs but it’s hard to say ‘non’ to regular clients. The dogs know me and the owners are comfortable leaving them here. One day, I’ll disappear to a desert island for Christmas but then what would I do? – miss the dogs, of course. Kind clients brought me food parcels – well, fresh veggies and salad was what I needed and the dogs always appreciate a crisp carrot.
Pickle and Rupert

There were two ‘sittings’ for meals. It's amazing how quickly the dogs get into this routine, how they allow other dogs to eat before them. They don’t have long to wait tho. No menu to peruse, no decision on what to eat, no wine waiter. They pretty much clear their bowls as they hit the floor and then it’s time for the slower feeders to get their food.

Maddie playing Peekaboo

A golden retriever ate a Christmas present; a lovely old hound had an epileptic fit but was OK and then, one cold morning, we woke to no water. Taps empty. It was 6.30 a.m. Too early to phone my neighbours to ask if they had the same problem. I had bottled water so no one went thirsty. At 8 o'clock I called the neighbour above me. They had water. Then I called Agnès, the neighbour below me. She had water. Oh Lordy, no water and a sea of soon-to-be-thirsty dogs. My neighbour suggested I call the water company. Somehow – goodness knows how? – they were able to tell me that the ‘counter’ at the top of the track was frozen and that I needed to defrost it with boiling water. Hey, this is the south of France. Water doesn’t freeze here. Agnès told me to fill up a watering can at her place. The track up to the water counter is steep – good for those thigh muscles - and it took two kettles of boiling water to get things moving again and then back up to the top, yet again, to lag the counter.

Happy New Year or Meilleurs Vœux as they say in France!

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