Monthly Archives: January 2012

A dog’s tale… and a book review.

A dog’s tale… and a book review.

J’aime les chiens, les toutous, les cabots, les clebs. I like dogs. 

Always have and  – I reckon – always will. This won’t surprise my faithful readers who are used to seeing dogs pop up here and there in my stories.

I did not grow up with dogs, but I was one of these children obsessed with all animals and who will, at any opportunity, adopt them. 

As I was growing up, I rescued, and mothered a never-ending succession of small creatures. The obvious ones: gold fish, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs. Less obvious choices too: Des escargots. That’s right, snails. I carefully hand-picked them in the neighborhood for the interesting colors and patterns on their shells, then housed them in a perforated show box (to provide some light.) They were fed fresh lettuce daily and were sometimes allowed to “sit” at the table next to me during lunch (merci, maman!) 

I was heartbroken after the box I had carefully placed on the windowsill (so my friends could enjoy some fresh air,) was blown away by a gust of wind. It went flying seven floors below where it crashed, all contents turned into a mushy mess. It was a sad time when Mom and I went down in the street and recovered some of the shattered shells. Most did not survive, in spite of my best efforts.

Adieu, mes petits amis!

There was also a frog (found during a family picnic,) that turned out to be a toad when we discovered it, foaming at the mouth, tucked behind the kitchen fridge, after it escaped its makeshift house.

My parents were understanding, stoic even, through all this. To a certain point.

Like a majority of my countrymen, we lived in cities and in apartment buildings, and my father never allowed my brother and I to have a dog. I begged, pleaded, threatened, on a regular basis. To no avail. Apartment living was not suited to dogs, Dad said. It would not be fair to the animal, or my mother (who would have to take care of it while we were at school.) I also realize that my father who was busy during the day and came home late at night, knew he would be the one taking the dog outside in the cold every evening.

I could be quite creative and persistent when making an argument, and I am sure I must have suggested Dad to install one of these red things in the middle of the living room.

(unknown photographer)
And the years went by, but the longing remained. My favorite TV shows and movies were the ones featuring animals. Most took place in mysterious and fascinating far away lands…

Like millions of French children, I watched all the episodes in the French “Belle et Sébastien” series. Faithful “Belle” (I credit her for inspiring my life-long love story with large breed dogs,) and cute and daring Sébastien became my best friends.

There were amazing books, of course, like Jack London’s White Fang or The Call of the Wild. And let’s not forget three illustrious dogs all European children grew up with: 

Idefix (Dogmatix in the US) with his friends Asterix and Obelix
Milou (Snowy in the US) and his owner Tintin, the Belgian detective

Rantanplan, aka “the stupidest dog in the Wild Wild West”
(the Lucky Luke series)

Once I was old enough to live independently and make my own decisions, I did not rush to get a dog. I lived in downtown Paris where I rented a 260 square foot apartment and worked long hours at American Express, on business trips several days a month. Like Dad before me, I had to admit – reluctantly – that I was not ready for dog ownership.

To get my “dog fix,” I would turn around in the street when I saw a pooch and its owner walking by [I still do;] pet the dog if I was lucky; visit the pet stores on quai de la Mégisserie, by the Seine river, on a regular basis.

Quai de la Mégisserie: A special place in the city
Plants, flowers, and animals too.

(unknown photographer)

Then, one day, I moved to the United States, when Le Husband was transferred to Seattle. After a few months here, our rental house was broken into. That was the only excuse I needed to visit the local shelter and adopt my first dog, at long last. Her name was Shadow. She was an American mutt, a “Chewfie” (Chow/Newfoundland mix.) She was 3 years old and had been there for several months, on death row because her big hairy black face scared many children when they visited the shelter with their parents. Le Husband and I fell in love, and as luck would have it, Shadow did too.

Beautiful Shadow (1993-2007)
On a cold winter day at the local dog park:
A French girl and… a bear?
The Chewfie loved snow!

Over the years, I taught Shadow a few tricks, and she taught me about dog ownership and responsibility. She lived with us for 11 years, through several homes, many field trips, daily walks, and a child (she always maintained a respectful distance when Junior started to walk.) She left us on a beautiful fall day, a few months shy of her 15th birthday. Shadow, tu me manques (I miss you.) 

Meanwhile, like many families, we had already adopted our “back-up dog,” a wise decision since Shadow, as a typical Chow, had been primarily my dog. Junior (he was 3 at the time,) needed a special friend too. Few things pain me more in life than meeting children who are afraid of dogs because they have never been around them. I decided early on that Junior would not be one of them, and he isn’t. Like his mother, he has never met a dog he did not like, and he is wonderful with all our pets.  

Junior and a buddy making friends at the dog park

The year I turned 40, we adopted our next dog, Hailey, the Yellow DogLike Shadow, she came from the local shelter, a Lab/Boxer mix, another corniaud (mutt,) 18 months old at the time, 65 lbs of boisterousness and limitless energy. She and the boy hit it off immediately.

Nine years later, Junior and the Yellow Dog are still going strong and fall asleep together every night. Even though I am in charge of exercising the beast and handle most walks (she needs a firm hand,) Junior feeds her, and plays with his favorite girl in the backyard most days after school. I am fully aware that Hailey is his dog. I just happen to take care of her.

I wonder how many miles we have already walked together?

The good news is that she is finally slowing down and has turned into a fine sailing dog.

Cover your ears, Yellow Dog. I do not want you to hear what follows…
Lately, I have been thinking about my next dog. This time, I would really like to adopt a puppy, and maybe choose a smaller, slightly less energetic breed. The comical, amiable, and monkey-faced French Bulldog has tickled my fancy for years. I love all bulldogs, but the Frenchie stands out as a worthy candidate.

I am always so thrilled to see a French bulldog in the street, but that does not happen often in our neck of the woods. Fortunately, celebrities and the media love them, and I can get my fix on the Internet any time…

Tough guys carry small dogs

Will his heart go on?

Meet Martha’s Sharkey and Francesca
(Psst! Martha! Not sure Francesca approves of your fashion sense!)

I may find a French bulldog puppy in a year or two; or I may stop at the local shelter again, where another mutt will steal my heart. Either way, there will always be dogs in my life. My friends get it. Most of them are dog lovers too. 

What about you, is there a special dog in your heart?

Aldous Huxley once said: “To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.” 

He may have been right. Your dog will always stand by you and look up to you even when others don’t. There are times in life when this kind of love is hard to turn away. 

Bill [Clinton] and Buddy

George [Bush] and Spot

François [Mitterand] and Baltique

Richard [Nixon] and Checkers

After reading all this, it will not come as a surprise to you that when the author of a book about a dog named Chula offered me to review it on the blog, I accepted. Meet Chula the Sheltie, a traveling dog if there ever was one. 

Chula and her owners, Sheron and Bob, traveled from California to France where they had the best time visiting Provence and Paris. The story is told by Chula, bien sûr, so this would make a wonderful book to read with children. The humorous illustrations highlight some of the dog’s adventures as she discovers the French way of life. French restaurants? Check. Riding the TGV? Check. Visiting local boulangeries and outdoor markets? Check. Chula the Sheltie did it all.

I can’t blame you, Chula!

It’s a lot more fun to be a dog in France, Chula!

There are also some beautiful photographs that capture the colors, scents and flavors of iconic Provence, as well as cultural tidbits and useful travel tips for pet owners. 

Chula loves the scent of irises…
(copyright 2011 by OIC Books)
“Do I smell lamb?”
(copyright 2011 by OIC books)

Chula loves the big water bowls France left out for her!
(in Sault, Provence)

(copyright 2011 by OIC books)

I am happy to recommend this lively, entertaining book to all my readers. It would make a great gift for your dog loving friends, or for any francophile. Interested? Paper and digital editions are available here, here or here (ebook editions include a bonus: videos recorded in France.)

Thank you for visiting today!

Ouah-ouah! (*)

(*) A bientôt!

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45 Responses to A dog’s tale… and a book review.

    • My Golden and I were together for 14 years and I still miss him deeply, but the best therapy was getting our new Golden, little Prince, 6 months now and a little monster, but so adorable that it is hard to get angry at his misfits, like stealing and eating a whole avocado with all due consequences recently!!! Worth all the trouble and they keep you fit and bring sunshine to all the grey Seattle days, right Veronique? Thank you for this beautiful post in memory of Shadow and all our cherished companions.

    • Your Golden was a great dog, and I am glad I knew him, Françoise. Little Prince will make you proud, you’ll see– as soon as he stops stealing avocados. 😉 He will make a fine traveling dog, too, and will get to discover Provence, just like Chula the Sheltie! Veronique

  1. Que d’aventures! C’est beau tout ce que tu nous racontes là, Véronique! Tu es très romantique. Dommage que tu habites si loin, je t’aurais demandé si tu voulais bien participer à mes petites vidéos. Je pense qu’on se serait bien amusé!

  2. delightful simply delightful-i am a lover of all things living-trees grass birds animals well you get the idea-all my animals that have came and shared my living space as well as space in my heart have been street animals in need-would life and travel be easier without that added aspect YES -but it is so worth it for every other day of the year-for my beloved aja and brighton who left 4 years and 5 years ago-and for the living loves now in my care we thank you for this very animal friendly post-g

    • Merci g. I knew we had a lot in common 😉 You enjoy rescuing stray souls too. I agree about the challenges of traveling with animals. This is why my next dog will be a smaller one. I want to be able to go more places with him! Oh, and you’re welcome! 😉

  3. Love, love, love this post because I am a dog person. I have a Cocker Spaniel (14 yrs. old) and a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier (10 yrs. old). I don’t have kids but I do love them like that. I have adopted them both from shelters as adults but I think my next dog I want it to be a puppy. I’ve never experienced that. As for breeds, I am sticking with the Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers… they are just adorable especially as puppies. Hope you are having a grand day.


  4. Oh my! This series was fun. You make me want un chien. You took me back to when I was a child…I loved reading Asterix and Obelix w/Idefix…I have some of their books somewhere….oh and Lucky Luke too! hee hee your dog looks like a bear for real! Great photo and story. Have a nice week Veronique. =)

  5. he , les series de notre jeunesse! Belle, et Sebastien, mon premier amour! (j’avais le même age que lui hein! :o)
    On a un rapport special avec les chiens;j’en ai eu plusieurs, maintenant j’ai des chats, j’aime autant les uns que les autres pour des raisons differentes.Mais en appart, les chiens ne seraient pas heureux, surtout dans une grande ville,il faut bien l’admettre.
    Pour les elevages exotiques, j’ai eu des poussins (en appartement, si, si!) un lapin, et des vers a soie, fascinants à observer!
    J’aime bien ce post -ci , Veronique;Plein d’affection, de souvenirs d’enfance et de tendresse; J’en profite pour envoyer un bisou au paradis des chiens, pour Pacha, Vicky et Mao, que je n’ai jamais oubliés…

  6. Dear Sandy. You mean to tell me that you do not have a chien yet? Imagine how much fun you would have had with a four-legged friend on that recent excursion of yours! Methinks it is time to hit the local shelter 😉 Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  7. Very sweet and poignant story. Merci beaucoup. I have never had a dog but certainly understand the love you can have for a dog. It doesn’t matter who you are, they love their master. I have a cat that I enjoy but it is all about her all the time!

  8. We had a miniature schnauzer named Bilbo (Bilbo Baggins) and a chocolate point siamese named Rufus when my girls were growing up… Our most recent dog/cat combo was Honey the cocker and Madison the siamese. We are currently without dog/cat and there is a definite emptiness. I loved this post and now have a yearning for a pet, perhaps a cat AND a dog… just have to warn DH!


  9. What a wonderful story of the part of your life with and without dogs. Like you, I always wanted a dog and managed at the age of 7 or 8 to persuade my mother (who actively disliked them) to get a dog but this adorable cocker spaniel, Boots, was sent away after one year as ‘he brought mud into the house.’ I came home from school and he was gone. Not good…

    You were brave to take on a lab/boxer mix. I love both breeds but boxers are a very OTT dog so I understand your thinking about a French Bulldog. Totally adorable – like clowns – and the easiest of the ‘squash faced’ breeds as they don’t get the breathing problems of others in this category.

    Adore your first photo. His Master’s Voice was always my favourite and I’d never seen it in French.

    Absolutely enchanting story, French Girl in Seattle xxx

    • Thank you so much, Jilly. I knew you would enjoy this story ;- ) The Yellow Dog has been a lot to handle. She needed two back to back surgeries (for puncture wounds) the year after we adopted her. She is OBSESSED with balls and will still run over anything, or anyone, who stands between her and the ball. See why I want a more mellow dog? Glad you approve of Frenchies.

  10. Love, love, love this post Veronique. It’s hard to believe there are some people who don’t love animal out there! When we were growing up in Africa, we had two dogs Rajah the Rhodesian Ridgeback and Tootsie the Terrier, loved them both. When we moved to Australia and David and Aimee were littel we had Cheeky the cat and Buffy the Beagle. David is now married in Sydney and lives in an apartment so no dog, but he does know the joy! My last four legged love was Lily an abandoned cat who adopted me and I just loved her so much, in fact you have inspired me to do a post about her sometime soon, because there’s quite a story there! Thanks again for a fantastic read. Take care, catch you soon.

  11. We go for little dogs. My favorite was Rose; a long haired chihuahua that was only four pounds and looked like a grey Brillo pad on pencils, but she was noisy and loved my wife. We are down to one now, Buster, another chihuahua but a bit larger at eight pounds. He is 22 years old, blind and deaf and moves rather slowly. All from the pound, which is a lot better than house breaking a puppy (though Buster is going backwards now).

    • Thank you for your visit and comment, JoeinVegas. I have never owned a tiny dog like the chihuahua, but I bet it is much easier to travel with them than with the Yellow dog! 😉 Bless Buster, that old soul. He has earned a spot in Heaven. Enjoy your four-legged friend.

  12. How adorable!! I am dog crazy…always have been. Shadow–such a DOLL…and the Sheltie–Chula–looks like my Ladd who once flew out our second floor window in Santa Barbara. Fortunately landing in boxwood hedges so he wasn’t hurt. But he did startle Germans tourists taking a pix of the house that as a bonus captured a flying dog!

    When I move to France will find my ‘Jack’ the Golden Retriever who is waiting for me there, somewhere. I already named this unknown next best friend on the theory that if you name him…he will come 😉

    Another great post!! Happy Feb!!

    • Suzanne, you do lead an incredible life. I have not been blessed enough to own a “flying dog.” It must be quite something! 😉 I know Jack is out there waiting for you, somewhere in France, even though, if you’ll allow me, shouldn’t you switch to “Jacques” once you find him? 😉

  13. Ah, I love it when frogs turn out to be toads, and foam at the mouth behind refrigerators ! Those priceless moments in life…

    Have you seen the film The Artist, with Jean Dujardin ? There is a wonderful dog in that, if you haven’t yet, do try to see it, I’m sure you are going to love it. We just saw it this evening, came home very happy, and wanting to tap dance !

    • Of course you enjoyed the frog story, Mr Toad!

      I did see the Artist a couple of weeks ago. Did you notice Jean and the dog’s picture in my dog series, on the right hand side of the screen in my new Dog Series? I loved that show and hope it wins many Oscars this year. Come back soon!

  14. Doggies!! What a sweet post. 🙂 Your dogs are so beautiful. I’m glad you finally got them as pets. Hehe. For the past year or so, I have been longing for a small dog (mini poodle or something). Not for the toy factor, but because something like that could live comfortably in a small apartment. But my apartment has a $40 a month fee for pets, and I just can’t afford it.

    If I had my own house, I would looove to get a Golden Retriever. Those are my favorite breed. 🙂

  15. Ne jamais se promener sur les quais quand on a pas le moral !!! il y a pile 1 an je suis revenu avec le chat de mes rêves ! il dormait sur le dos les pattes en l’air ! un vrai pépère ! et le voilà à la maison, mon Shabby adoré qui m’apporte que du bonheur …
    Gros bisous Véronique !

  16. Such a charming blog. My special dog is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Murphy. Oh, and that book looks divine. I’m your newest follower. I would love for you to follow me back if you get a chance. I am a French Country Style decorator!!!
    Kim (

  17. What a wonderful review! We had a lhasa apso for 15 years. Still miss this guy. He was truly family. It’s been many years without him, but his collar still sits on the shelf in our breakfast room along side his photo. Thanks for sharing your photos and wonderful review. ~ Sarah
    My book review today is on Chocolate Chocolate. Not about dogs, but a wonderful true story. Stop by and take a look. 😉

  18. Vero! I didn’t see this fabulous post either!! I am shaking my fist at Blogger!!! You know what a dog lover I am and you really nailed the feelings that we have for our other members of the family. I grew up with Great Danes (and you think that you like big dogs?) and then couldn’t have dogs for many years. When we moved to Arles from Paris and stopped travelling so much, I put my foot down. And, like you, I am wondering if spring might not be a good time to find a second pupper. 🙂

  19. I think I must have missed this post too but I’ve just spotted Skippy The Bush Kangaroo – I absolutely loved that programme! Thanks for your comment about Zaz – like you I certainly wouldn’t turn down a suite at the Ritz either! Looking forward to your post about the music of Zaz.

  20. Oh Veronique…a lovely post today on your love of pets, and specifically dogs! 🙂 Your Newfoundland/Chow was gorgeous…so sad he’s no longer with you.

    We have had two dogs in our married 30 years together. A sheltie male, Sunday’s Morning STARR, that lived to be 13. He passed away 10 years ago. We then rescued a 6 month old sheltie female, “Princess Mignon Abbie” just 8 years ago. She lived up to her French name, “mignon”. She’s the epitomy of delicate and tiny. She is only 12 lbs, which is extremely teency for this breed. She was quite taken back by our recent addition of our son’s Razor Back Blue Pit Bull to join our family (temporarily) since last November. She is not fond of him in the house, but enjoys walks with him when we walk them together. He’s 4 and energetic and BIG at 59 lbs…and I think he intimidates her.

    I recently snapped pics of them each wearing these Valentine Shaped Sunglasses. Yes, I’m one of those Pet owners…but not too often that they hate me. Abbie poses as if she’s paralyzed when I dress her like that to get a pic taken; and Sir Smoke (the Pit Bull) was more challenging. I had to put my Nikon camera timer on and I sat near to him and held them in place so he wouldn’t EAT them. lol

    I love the book that you mention of Chula the Sheltie. My grandson, Tyler-5, would love to read that book. I will check it out!

    Fondly in love with France~ 🙂
    ~CC Catherine

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