It’s now nearly 4 months since Millie, our Golden Retriever, arrived for her first visit to France & I think it’s fair to say she has settled in very quickly and already considers Provence as home.
I admit that it didn’t start too well, with the first few days being taken up with the ‘War of the Dog Bed’, but she has now managed to secure her position as ‘User-in-Chief’ of the dog bed in front of the fire, just occasionally allowing Pusscat to settle on it to enjoy the warmth…..
On top of that she has also claimed an old chair as her cosy place for when we’re out and she feels perhaps a little vulnerable. I think the high sides allow her to hide and the seat is the perfect size for a little ‘dog-nest’, but whatever the reason, she’s very content, which is lovely.
We had considered bringing her home after Christmas, but our eldest son is living now at our place full-time and cycling for a local team, so he welcomed a bit of company on his walks and Mille (and Pusscat) stayed with him, which was a good result for both of them.
To be honest, having Millie there with us over the Winter has been great fun as it has given us a perfect excuse to go for a walk, rather than hopping on the bikes when the weather hasn’t been that that good. As such she’s been truly spoilt & happily suffers a trip in the car as she knows it will end in a long off-lead amble.
She has also discovered the markets and (like us) enjoys a trip in to a local town for a wander around the stalls and a sit down for a coffee in a local café. I must admit I was a little apprehensive the first time I took her with me, as she is best described as ‘food-obsessed’ – snuffling out anything that she may consider to be edible, even tubes of oil paint!…..
…..So I feared I would witness her leaping onto one of the wonderful ‘saucisson’ stalls, or running through the market with a roti-chicken in her mouth pursued by an angry stall-holder. After Andy’s experience with the dog & the fish, nothing would surprise me Andy meets a dog with a well rehearsed party trick!
However I needn’t have worried as she was a perfect market-dog, pottering around gently on the lead, apparently just enjoying the sights & smells and enjoying the strokes from children standing nearby.
One of our favourites of course is Lourmarin, where she happily settled under the table in front of Café Gaby, watching the antics of other dogs that passed. Here meeting Max, a friend’s dog…
Lourmarin is also home to another Max, the most incredibly laid-back Retriever you could ever wish to meet, owned by (and best friend of) Pablo, who runs L’Apothicaire in the village.
Max is a huge character and can be found lying contentedly outside or inside the shop, or may be found standing with his paws on the threshold of the Pizza shop opposite with his nose against an invisible door, hoping he may just get lucky with some scraps.
The great thing about being there with a dog is that they are welcome just about everywhere. I haven’t yet been turned away from a café when I have asked if we can go in with Millie and she is happy just to curl up under the table, wet or dry!
What has made us laugh though is how the change in location from Dartmoor to Provence has changed her lifestyle. Whilst in Devon, it’s fair to say that she often returned from walks soaking wet, after walking up streams or just being out in the rain and wind. She was in fact quite a hardy soul, who ventured out with us in most weathers, but that has rather changed.
Whilst she has enjoyed the snow that we’ve had there this Winter, happily running along and rolling in it, or snuffling her nose along the surface as she scampers ahead……
She has developed a hatred of the rain, to the point that she will only walk a few yards, before turning around and heading back to the house. She clearly hates getting wet & runs straight back in with her teeth chattering, before heading to her bed by the fire.
I have no idea how she is going to get on when we have to bring her back to the UK at some point in the future – I think we will need to find her a doggy sou’wester, hat and wellies, if we stand any chance of getting her out of the door
The summer though is yet to come and she is already trying to find shade when, on some days, the temperature has risen to about 15 degrees, so we have yet to see how she will cope with the 30 – 40 degree heat of the summer, but at least we’ll be able to take her for very early walks, which is always a nice way to start the day, especially when the lavender is in bloom, so that will get us going nicely.
We have sought out a local groomer & she went for her first visit a couple of weeks ago, going in looking rather shaggy & leaving looking relaxed & pampered, bouncing along swishing her tail seeking out adoring glances wherever possible. So that was great as we can take her regularly during the summer to keep her coat under control and hopefully help her to stay cool.
We are also trying to think of ways of making a doggy bath, so that she can lie in some water in the shade, rather than try to get into our beloved blue plastic pool, which wouldn’t end well.
All in all it’s fair to say that she has adapted to life in France much more quickly than we had imagined possible. She knows some of the walks now like the back of her paw, anticipating where other dogs will bark at her and just holds her head high and sashays past. She is a different character all round, even her tendency to eat anything (and I mean anything) has tailed off, which has to be good.
I expect we will have to bring her back to the UK at some point (and yes we do miss having her here for the walks) although she’s quite happy being French so who are we to spoil her fun?