The one that got away...
Since living in France, all my dogs have been rescue dogs and are nearly always older dogs. Not many people adopt older dogs and truly they are the best! You are in need of love? Adopt an older dog!
Anyway this isn’t the story of ‘my latest dog’ but it’s of the one who got away. I’ve been looking for a friend for my last rescue dog, Ours (‘Bear’ in English). Ours is pronounced – sort of – like ‘horse’ without the ‘h’). Yes I know it would have been easier had I changed his name to Bear! Ours was and is a dog who is terrified of any visitor, except for my neighbour, who he now adores. He was a hunting dog, dumped at a refuge, thin and with injuries on one side – obviously beaten – he is incredibly fearful of men. He spent two and a half years there before he came to sleep on my sofa and make my life perfect.
Fripouille is six years old English setter and was bred (in a hunting kennels) near to Mandelieu, not far from Cannes. She was sent as a puppy to another breeder/hunter in Brittany and at some point had a litter of ten puppies. The breeder – a good man – always kept in touch with the owners of his puppies and on one of his regular calls he discovered that the owner really didn’t want Fripouille anymore – obviously she was surplus to requirements (!) so he drove to Brittany and brought her back to his home in the south of France. That was ten months ago and since then, and for the first time in her life, she has lived, not in a kennel but in the house with two other setters. He was anxious she’d go to a home where she lived indoors – it all sounded perfect for Ours. In fact, my interest in her, being a setter, is that I occasionally look after Maggie, a Red and White Irish setter and Ours adores her – she flirts and plays with him – so I was hopeful that Fripouille would act in the same way which is why I was interested in her.
Fripouille, by the way, is not an easy name either. It means Rascal. I have difficulty correctly pronouncing the ‘ooo’ sound correctly in French. For instance the word for sweater is pull. When I say ‘pull’ my friends laugh because I’m saying ‘poule’ which means chicken or hen! I get my own back though because the French have difficulty with ‘th’ so I tell my friends to say ‘tooth’ and they say ‘toof! Ha!
So a few weeks ago Fripouille arrived. She was friendly, gave me a kiss, ignored Ours but then he was hiding in the corner of my bedroom, trying to get away from ‘that scary man!’ No one who visits ever gets to see what a total joy Ours is when he is alone with me, except my neighbour.
That first night, Fripouille, after eating her dinner, fell asleep on an armchair. The next day I took her to vet because her eye wasn’t closing or opening properly. (You can see it in the photos.) The vet was concerned as it seemed the third eyelid was stuck across the eye. She gave me three lots of medication for her and made the comment that, ‘at last I had adopted a normal dog.’ In the waiting room, she sat on my lap! I agreed with her – a dog with no neuroses.
However, it was not to be. During the following days, her ignoring of Ours turned into growls which turned into snapping at him. He wasn’t allowed on the sofa if she got there first and he, naturally, became frightened of her. Not at all what I had in mind. Had he put her in her place and let her know he was boss, perhaps it would have worked out. But he’s too gentle and kind and scared for that. We tried for a week or so but if anything it got worse. I contacted the breeder and he came and collected her and when he did, Fripouille was crazy to see him. I don’t really know why he wanted a new home for her.
I felt and feel badly (she’s the first rescue dog I’ve ever returned) but any new dog, at the moment, has to be the right dog for Ours. I’d taken her on trial and it was fortunate her breeder is such a nice, honest guy. Had she come from a refuge or a bad situation I’d not have sent her back. No way. I’d have had to work through the problem.
At least Fripouille’s bad eye got fixed. I hope her breeder keeps her.