A waggy dog story
There are three kinds of dogs in France. Firstly there are the upper classes, the pampered and protected pooches, coiffured within an inch of their lives that trot obediently beside their mistresses in the elegant city streets. Then there are their country cousins, farm dogs and family pets living the outdoor, rough and tumble life on vast tracts of agricultural land in and around the little villages and hamlets. But it’s the third kind that are probably the most vulnerable: the hunting dogs, working classes of the canine world. Of course dogs are made for hunting, and doubtless they have a whale of a time when they’re let loose in the thousands of acres of wildlife rich forest up and down the splendidly varied countryside of France. Unfortunately they spend a good deal of their time at home, and when they’re finally let out they seem to go mad. Having come across my fair share of them, I feel bound to say that they aren’t over endowed with common sense either, all of which gives one a due sense of foreboding. It’s this last group that often need the most assistance from the indefatigable and charitable who dedicate their lives to rehabilitating the unfortunate hounds that depend on us for their livelihood, and have been let down.
To find a dog wandering along a winding lane in winter in rural France is a depressingly common sight. They desperately scan every passing car, winding across the road from one side to the other, lost and hungry. Some have genuinely lost their bearings after a day’s hunting and they may well find their own way home or their owners may come back for them. Hopefully they will have had their ears legally tattooed so they can be identified by anybody inclined to help them out of their plight.
These are the lucky ones. Many more are not lost; they’ve been dumped, often in the early spring when the hunting season is over, so that owners don’t have the expense of feeding them over the summer months. They are unlikely to have been tattooed, certainly won’t be wearing collars and their outlook is bleak unless they are found by the kind-hearted. Even then it’s no easy matter to coax a shy dog, that’s understandably lost its trust in mankind, into your car.
However help is at hand. The aforementioned philanthropic persons will go to quite extraordinary lengths to help catch a lost dog or collect one that has been found. They’ll then house and feed it until either the original owners are traced or they can be rehabilitated.
We met Sue, our local dog lady, when a timid little hound began to make prolonged visits to our home. Our house is situated high in the hills above the Lot valley, surrounded by oak forest and vineyards. There are only three other houses within dog-walking distance and the resident mutts are well known to us. This was a lost dog. We tried to give it little bits of food, but it was both too afraid to accept and too wary of our neighbour’s dog, Tinia, a happily rotund Labrador who spends a good deal of her time on our various terraces – especially at breakfast time – and regards our land as an extension of her own territory.
A friend of ours recommended a call to Sue. We phoned, the emergency was logged and Sue arrived on the scene in the canine version of Fab 1 (minus Parker and the pink paint job) to assess the situation.
As it happened our little dog was not particularly thin, and did eventually find it’s own way home, but many others do not. For them these International Dog Rescue people really do represent their last hope.
Our local lady runs Poor Paws, a sort of Battersea en Quercy but on a rather smaller scale. All of these animals are given a second chance in life. Warmly housed, fed and cared for, then chipped so that they’ll never again be lost or abandoned.
A very waggy dog story.
If you would like to make a donation, are looking for a dog to adopt, or live in the Lot and know of a lost, abandoned or maltreated animal, contact Sue:
Tel: 05 65 24 53 03
If you live in neighbouring departments, Sue can probably give you the contact details of your nearest dog’s home.
© Amanda Lawrence 2006
All rights reserved
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