Man’s Best Friend
A few people have asked about our dog, Charlie, who has been seen in a couple of the photos I have shared from various walks and adventures.
Charlie is a beaut!
I have to start the story a long way back. I never had a dog growing up (everyone say ahhhh!). I loved dogs. I used to make the most of all the neighbours’ dogs as much as possible. There was even one dog in particular who used to wait in the greenspace behind my school everyday until I would leave for the day, and he would trot along beside me ’till we got home. Everyday! A faithful friend!
I love dogs!
When mon homme and I finally settled in the countryside together, it seemed like the right time to have a hound. We had children, and that wasn’t going too badly, so when a friend announced a litter of pups on the way. Well! I was very tempted. I had always wanted a dog of my own. I used to love minding my friends’ dogs.
I brought home the news to mon homme. They were a mix of a litter: retriever, labrador and sheepdog cross. I talked him into taking one and then I managed to talk myself out of it at the same time. Anyone who knows me, knows, I do this on a regular basis. The trouble with always seeing the other side of the argument is that I can see all sides in equal measure. After I told us that it was far too much responsibility, mon homme said “look – we’re taking the puppy!” (I was terribly delighted that he did!)
So Otto became a member of the family. He had the appearance of a golden labrador and he was a whole heap of adorable trouble! I had always hoped that if I ever had an animal in my care that I would feel that connected to it. And I did!
When we moved to France there was no question. Otto would come too. In some ways his paperwork was almost as complicated as ours! The journey with him was hilarious! He moved home with us for each of the six moves until we finally got settled. The irony of ironies – we finally settled in our own home and he died a week later.
It still makes me so sad and I still find it hard to talk about. He managed to get out of our garden and make it to the main road where he was knocked down. I might add it was the first time in his life that he was enclosed in a garden. He was a bit of a Houdini. A clever dog.
The person who hit him was distraught and thankfully he didn’t cause an accident or we would never have forgiven ourselves. The very kind lady brought him to the vet in the nearest town but it was too late. I decided to do a tour of the local vets the day after he went missing and the news was broken to me in the first clinic. He had a very prominent scar on his side since he was a puppy so there was no doubt.
I cried like a baby.
I honestly wasn’t prepared for the grief. Believe me, I’ve seen some hard times, and I thought I was made of strong stuff. But I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of losing a companion. That day I swore I would never own a dog again.
Otto was a troublemaker. But he was amazing with the children! Very protective of them. I remember in one of the apartments we lived in, there was a beautiful old spiral staircase. A staircase with a wooden bannister. When you looked straight down through it, you could see all of the floors below like a snail’s shell. The bannister of each floor projecting further outwards.
Our little one was only just on her feet. I was cleaning the staircase one day and had left the door open from the kitchen. I had only taken a couple of steps up, but was still out of sight. Our little one started making her way towards the steps. I could see her, but Otto couldn’t see me. He became so distressed the poor thing. He was trying to literally herd her away from the perceived danger and started to bark a warning. He genuinely thought I wasn’t there, and when I popped my head back the genuine relief in his composure was palpable.
We were so attached to Otto. I wondered if that was the way you became attached to your first pet, or was there enough love in your heart for another animal. I wasn’t convinced.
But along came Charlie!
Charlie belonged to our friends Adrien and Delphine (whom I’ve introduced to you before!). They own a goat farm not far from here. They had two beautiful Australian sheperds. Jazzy (the female) and Charlie (the male). The first time mon homme visited their farm, he came home telling me how gorgeous the animals were but that I would love their male sheepdog in particular.
As it turned out – they got a new billy goat. Joel. He looks like Elvis (I swear!)
Joel and Charlie never got along! And let’s just say that our friends were distraught. Obviously Joel has a certain role to play in their livelihood. So they put the feelers out to find a new home for Charlie.
Delphine sells her cheese on the market every Friday and got to work on me. Every Friday! Adrien sees mon homme everyday and got to work on him. Everyday!
In the end we agreed to take Charlie for a couple of weeks to see how things would go! Needless to say he’s still with us. And I adore him!
I was a little worried before we took him. We were to be his fourth home. Before the goat farm he had been sold as a breeder twice.
I am lucky in this life that I have many friends that I can call on when I’m troubled by a decision. I happen to have a friend who took the leap from passion to craft and has become a dog trainer and behaviour consultant. Sabrina‘s passion for animals is so contagious! I got some great advice from her and felt equipped to welcome Charlie to the family! He is a beautiful specimen of his breed. His official name is Charlie Chaplin de la domaine de I can’t remember the rest! Our little one calls him Charlemagne. Our tall one calls him friend!
He has become my fitness buddy! He got knocked down a while ago and has a pin in his leg. He’s been building up his fitness and after a few knee problems and false starts so am I. He’s moved around a lot and so have I. He has fuzzy hair and so do I ! I look at him and I feel like we’re kindred spirits!
Have a lovely weekend!