20 February 2009


The two new dogs are doing well. Both are now spayed, stitches removed. Mistral has no obvious physical problems and isn't scared of people although she is a much sadder dog than Mia and incredibly needy, frenetically needy, and goes up to everyone for affection. She has been beaten tho and if I tell her off for eating poop (yeah!) she cowers, sure I'm going to hit her so we need another solution. Jicky, a reader of this blog, tells me Tabasco sauce will stop it for good and when I find a place that sells it in France, I'll be out in the garden sprinkling it on you-know-what. As it is, you'll find me half the day rushing about with a pooper scooper trying to beat Mistral to it. And you thought life in the south of France was sitting by the Mediterranean sipping champagne, didn't you?

Mia is terrified of the world, but at the same time, when no 'Big Bad Stranger' is here to scare her, she finds joy in life, she's naughty, she's funny. This morning - drum roll - she was playing with another dog for the first time. (see last photo) She's slowly gaining weight even though she eats three times the amount I give other dogs her size but I've seen this before. It can take a year for a very out of condition dog to come right. Her skin is much better, special baths no longer necessary as she rarely scratches now.

This though is the story of Mister Brian and Mia.

Some of you may have read 'The Day Lou was Stolen,' which tells the story Brian's French bulldog, Lou. Mister Brian has a wonderful food shop in Monaco called - you guessed it - 'Mister Brian.' Brian is Monaco's famous caterer, supplying superb prepared meals to everyone - from the person living alone who doesn't want to cook, to a party on a luxury yacht in the harbour to a full-scale society wedding. His chefs are superb and in all the years he's done this, he's never lost his personal touch. Any Brits reading this might have seen the ITV programme, Piers Morgan on Monaco, where Brian was interviewed several times.

Inviting Brian to Sunday lunch means you get a response such as, 'I'll bring the first course so do you prefer prawns, salmon or crab?' I wish I had more friends like that. Of course when he arrives, there's usually a to-die-for chocolate dessert and a bottle of very good wine as well. He and Lou came to lunch a short while ago. Brian's girlfriend, Ester, is in Costa Rica at the moment. If you'd like to see a photograph of the two of them wearing plastic bags (!) - honestly - click on the link.

Mia, as I said, is terrified of any stranger and in particular, men. When a visitor arrives, she'll bolt out of the door as soon as she can get past them, and then she'll stand outside on the terrace barking non-stop. Not helpful. Later, she'll come to the open door, peer in and run away again. When I go outside and catch her, which is no easy task when a visitor is here, as I go to put a lead on her, she'll cringe, eye tight shut, waiting to be beaten. I'd like to get hold of the person who did this to her...

After Brian and I had lunched - and lunched very well, as you can imagine - I got Mia back indoors. Brian adores dogs - he's rescued dogs in Costa Rica and it goes without saying that Lou and he are inseparable. Whilst I was making coffee, I looked up and saw Brian trying to make friends with Mia. He spent a very long and uncomfortable time sitting on the edge of the coffee table, talking to Mia (sweet Lou putting up with it). Mia was on the sofa (yes, there's something wrong with who sits where in this house). He stroked her, he kissed her, he worked on getting her confidence. He was determined she'd not end that day without knowing a man can be kind to a dog - and how kind is that.

Well the photos say it all really. I'm sorry they are rather blurred. It was the way the light was that day - well, that's my excuse, but I did want to show you.

Brian's time with Mia is an example of how patience and love can sometimes overcome anything--even something as horrific as Mia's previous life. Of course, she's still scared of every new person, and it's almost a pattern that needs breaking, but I feel sure time and good friends will help her. And sometimes she's scared of me - for instance if I put on different clothes to go out, then she'll run away from me. Who is this 'new' person? But Brian's time with her has really helped her on her way.

It's so worthwhile to adopt a dog from a refuge. Mistral and Mia's Hell Hole was an extreme situation but most refuge dogs just want a home of their own again. The rewards of opening your heart to a shelter dog are beyond category. When you see them relaxed, in good condition, asleep or better still, playing and having a good time, it's so worthwhile. So if you are looking for another dog, do go look in the shelters - you'll find old dogs, middle aged dogs and puppies. There is a choice but no one ever wants the old dogs, so do consider one of those. People don't want old dogs because they'll not have them for long and they don't want to go through the sadness when they die but when they die, get another in their memory because that's what they'd want - the love continues - we don't run out of it. Suffice to say we get back far more than we give - that's for sure.

04 February 2009

'Les Girls'

And update on Mama Mia and Mistral - 'Les Girls' as Virginia, their avid supporter from Birmingham, Alabama calls them.

Mistral - well basically she's fine. She was spayed and is now over that. She in pretty good form - incredibly needy (more so than Mia who was in the worst condition of the two). Mistral weirdly has an uneven face. One dewlap is normal and on the other side, it's very short. The vet doesn't know why any more than I do. Was she born like that, was she beaten? There doesn't appear to be any scaring but she's certainly one lopsided looking dog.

Mia has problems (she's the one photographed here) but on the other hand you can see she is looking much better. She has been eating three times the amount of the others yet has only gained a little weight. Her skin is improving but it's not right yet. Last week she went to the vet for a check-up and the two special baths she was having have been stopped. The vet felt they were perhaps drying her skin too much.

And on Monday she was sterilised. (these photos were taken before the operation) She bled a lot and she needed a lot of anaesthetic. When the vet opened her up she found enlarged lymph nodes - perhaps not good news, we have to wait and see. She also wanted to remove one toe. It's infected and is three times the size it should be. After x-ray, it was hard to tell if it was a tumour or what, so removal seemed the best option. Because she bled so much tho and because she needed so much anaesthetic, the vet decided not to do anything with the toe for the moment. The x-rayed showed it's not a tumour but is badly arthritic and could be painful for her. So we'll see how it goes. At the moment it doesn't seem to bother her and as the vet said, if she has lymphoma why bother her with another operation. Once she's over this op, she can be given anti-inflammatories, of course and that might help. She also has a heart murmur. Lots wrong with our lovely Mama Mia.

And Mia is a dog who is sick in the car. Boy is she sick in the car, even if she hasn't eaten, she'll manage to throw up something...

Yesterday, the day after the operation, she was still poorly but today she is much better, eating well and taking note of life.

So sad if she does have cancer but on the other hand, even if she doesn't make much older bones, at least she has a comfortable sofa to sleep on and that was the whole point - to give these dogs a good ending to their hard lives.

She is still terrified of men, of course, and the camera - she looks at it and thinks a bullet is about to hit her between the eyes.

So everything is now done. They've both been sterilised, they've had their innoculations, loads of wormings, skin treatments, good food. Now it's just a question of time and getting healthier. I know from the past, this takes time and we've lots of that.

Thanks so much to everyone who has been so encouraging and taken such an interest in these two dogs - they say Woof Woof and thanks to you.

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