We do not own a dog.
In fact, this is the dog that we do not own. His name (or one that he answers to, given by our French neighbour whose dog he is also not), is Pepsi.
We buy biscuits and chewy treats for him. He is gentle of mouth, and his table manners are excellent. He comes into our kitchen and sits to be hand fed, and he will keep us company in the garden whenever the need arises. (His or ours is debatable.)
He brings a friend for afternoon tea, and the pair of them lurk about in the sun on our doorstep looking hopeful until we give in. Which we do.
This proves that we are a) soppy and b) English.
The French attitude to dogs comes as something of a shock to subjects of Her Britannic Majesty (as we all too often appear in the French press). A dog is an animal that lives in the garden, if the fencing is up to it, where it is frequently ignored for most of the day. It may, but may not, have access to a shed or garage should the weather be inclement. It is rarely walked, and may not know how to behave on a lead – and certainly not off it.
Our visitor, as far as we know, is a farm dog who prefers to be elsewhere. One day we set off for a walk, and along came Pepsi, happy to be with company. All went well until we passed, as one must, a field of cattle. The little chap the size of a corgi ran amongst them barking his furry socks off, and generally showing them who was boss. It was a toss-up whether the cattle would stampede or he would be trampled to death – and there was nothing we could do about it. He doesn’t wear a collar or identity tag; there was nothing to grab, and no leash to hold.
Only by walking away shouting his name did we manage to get him to follow. Note to self – don’t take village dog on country walks.
In fact, to the canine community, we have somehow become known as the doggy tuck shop - though it is a false rumour, as we confine our treat-giving to Pepsi and his lady friend. It is possible, on any given day, to see a venerable golden Labrador, who obviously sleeps in a cattle shed, in the garden too; also a rangy black and tan number, and the two often travel together. They are all good natured animals out for a constitutional (though the wandering Rottweiler we had once was not assessed for his friendliness) with, presumably, owner consent. This in spite of the fact that a busy road runs right through the middle of the village.
On one recent occasion , I fell off the steps that lead up here while trying to watch a full-grown St Bernard that was wandering in and out of the Little House. You’d think that you’d notice a dog that size missing from your garden, but it’s not the first time he’s been here. He strolls up from the next village 4kms away. They have a good fence there; they just leave the gate open.
We also had a neighbour’s boxer dog chasing the same neighbour’s cat, but the man kindly erected an electronic dog barrier that prevented a repeat. He’s since moved out. The cat stayed.
You may wonder why we don’t have fencing around our garden. On the one side we have a hedge. The shorter dogs have made holes under it. On the other side we have nothing. Why would we?
We do not own a dog.