17 July 2006

The day Lou was stolen!

One of the best things about Pension Milou – apart from the dogs, of course – is that I get to meet really great people.

One such person is Brian. Lou, his French bulldog, comes to stay twice a year when he goes off to Costa Rica and if Brian is a character, well, double it for Lou. Sometimes I think I should pay Brian for the privilege of being entertained.

Many years ago, Brian, a wonderful teddy-bear of an Englishman, starting importing the very best Scottish smoked salmon into France and Monaco and supplying many of the Michelin-starred restaurants. This led to the opening of his own catering and delicatessen company – called a ‘traiteur’ in French. Brian offers high-class catering to the rich and famous and everyone in Monaco knows Brian and Brian knows everyone. His business, naturally enough, is called Mr Brian.

Brian loves his work but the true love of his life is Lou. Everyone who calls in the shop to purchase Foie Gras, a perfect lobster or even Iranian caviare or simply a bottle of the best olive oil, knows Lou. And Brian goes nowhere without her, and so it was one day a few weeks ago.

Tug-o-war with Cleo, the dalmatian
Brian was visiting a client in an apartment block in Fontvielle, Monaco. He got permission from the security guards to leave the van outside and off he went to find the lift, leaving Lou sitting in the van outside. This he always does and Lou happily waits for him. Lou wouldn’t go anywhere. This love affair is very much a two-way relationship. Lou’s life is Brian.

His business finished, Brian left the building, opened the van to get in and saw, to his horror, that Lou wasn’t there. She’d gone! He’d left the windows open for air but not enough for Lou to have got through the gap. In any case, she wouldn’t have run away. Lou was waiting for Brian. She wasn’t going anywhere. But she had!

For an instant, Brian’s heart stopped. He ran around the block calling, calling calling her name. He stopped people. ‘Have you seen a little white French bulldog with big ears?’ No one had. He ran back into the office of the apartment block where the two security guards sat. They’d seen nothing but pointed out the CTT camera in the front of the building and offered to play back the video. When they did so, Brian was horrified. There, playing out on the screen in front of him, he watched a woman approach his van, open the door and remove Lou. His heart sank to his shoes. He was beside himself.

Here the story gets a little better – for the moment, anyway. One of the security guards recognised the woman. She lived in the building. And so the two guards and Brian went to her apartment and knocked on the door. No reply. They knocked again and called out. No reply.

So, back to the office, where one of the guards called the police. The tiny Principality of Monaco has more police per square inch and per citizen than any other place in the world. It’s considered a safe place to live, women can walk around decked in jewels – they don’t have burglaries – or so they say and if they do, it doesn’t often get into the local newspaper, Nice-Matin. So any call to the police reporting a theft gets a very swift response.

Cuddling up to Sophie, the boxer
When the police arrived, one of them knocked on the woman’s door, calling out that they were the police and she opened the door. They asked if she had a dog in the apartment. ‘Non,’ she said. They asked if they could look inside. ‘Non,’ she said. Brian called out, ‘Lou, Lou.’ Nothing. No bark.

So the police barged in and searched. This would be illegal in France but in Monaco – well, Monaco writes its owns rules. They opened doors and cupboards and eventually found Lou, shut in a wardrobe, shaking - far too scared to bark.

At this point, the police had to physically restrain Brian from bashing the woman – well, how would you feel if someone stole your dog? Fortunately they succeeded else Brian might have found himself up on a charge. Instead, Brian and Lou went to the police station to make a formal ‘complaint’ against the woman. The police told Brian it was the first time in 10 years they’d ever had a report of a stolen dog in the Principality.

Whilst the report was being typed into the computer, Lou found an old football to play with and play she did – she destroyed it. One of the policeman laughed and said, ‘She deserves to wreck that after all she’s been though.’

The case is waiting to come before the court. Brian now locks his van whenever he goes to visit a client. The love affair continues.


• Eliane • said...

Aww, poor baby! A good thing there was a happy ending to this story!

PJ said...

Lou would have bitten her eventually as I'm sure the food would be dreadful compared to Brian's!

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