Thursday, March 5, 2009

Scotty dogs in Provence

Back to us and Tarascon. The Artist was only in Mr Bricolage (the local DIY store about 4 kms away from us) the other day buying nails, when the man serving him said, "Aren't you the man with the two scotty dogs?" only in French, and he probably didn't say Scotty dogs either, he is far more likely to have said 'les Scottish', 'les Black and White' (after the whiskey), or 'les Chippies' (a clothing company which uses a Scotty dog as it's logo). Also, being in Provence, he wouldn't have said chiens, but chings, as down here they finish off all their words with a ing. So lapin becomes laping; the Artist once had a very confusing trip to the local Casino to buy some prunes for a rabbit stew I was cooking- Rabbit with Agen Prunes, Rick Stein, A French Odyssey - and being a chatty sort of person, he told the woman at the till that it was for the lapin, which she repeated back to him as Laping, and so they went backwards and forwards (you say lapin, I say laping....) Anyway Scotties aren't a very common breed in France and therefore they get a lot of attention when we take them out; in fact they're not that common even in the UK, of course George Bush changed all that in the US with Barney - one of our favourite Private Eye captions is the one written under the photo of him disembarking from Air Force One carrying Barney that reads 'George Bush winning the War on Terriers! - (how we howled when we first saw it), consequently we are constantly stopped in the street and asked if Molly and Ralph are twins, probably for lack of anything else to say. I suppose they do look quite similar if you don't know them, but to us they look very different. Ralph is quite large for a Scotty, and were his legs a bit longer, would be a decent sized dog, he's also quite heavy (back to the George Bush photo, you wouldn't be able to balance Ralph on your arm whilst disembarking from a plane). He is very handsome, and no doubt could win a lot of prizes. He has slim hips and a large head, which is good according to Crufts, but unfortunately there isn't much between the ears and he is, sadly, thick as shit! Molly is more of a round ball, she has a much smaller head and tends to pin her ears back making them disappear and giving her a snake-like look, she is however very sensitive and intelligent, in fact a philosopher, according to the Artist.
So you can imagine our surprise when we first went to the local vet and he announced with glee that he too is the proud owner of a Scottish Terrier. Whenever we take either of the dogs to see him (generally Ralph, he's overbred and there's always something wrong with him) we are made to look at photos of the vet's dog on his computer. Most of them seem to have been taken at his birthday party and feature him (the dog) wearing a red bandana sitting in front of a birthday cake decorated with sparklers. The vet then, almost with tears in his eyes regales us with stories about how stupid his dog is, how he watched him trying to navigate a sprinkler in the back garden, only with him ending up walking straight through it, or something like that - he told it in French, so I may have missed a bit; meanwhile there's a waiting room full of wheezing old men and their sick dogs, patiently waiting for their appointments, but that doesn't stop the vet from telling more stories and telling us how disappointed his dog will be to hear that Molly has been 'done'. He is probably the only vet in the country to have discouraged us to have Ralph 'done'. This led to Ralph spending many months in a lampshade, as for some reason or another (probably because they're so close to the ground) his balls got infected and he had to be stopped from licking them (apologies for the squeamish). Anyway we finally had them off, and he's been a much happier dog since (less like a Glaswegian at closing time, sorry Glasgow, that's the Artist's joke, not mine). The vet also suggested that Ralph might need to go to a dog psychiatrist in Paris, I can't remember why and needless to say we didn't follow up on that one.
One evening, when we were over at Chantal's, she told us about the amateur dramatics, singing and dancing show she had been in at our local theatre (a beautiful miniature baroque theatre, complete with cherubs carved out of the stone facade) and she lent us a DVD of the 'spectacle' which somehow we had manage to miss. We put it on our DVD player as soon as we got home, and there were Sylvie and Chantal singing away in Victorian costume, twirling their parasols; next on, and you can imagine our surprise, was none other than our vet, wearing a stripy t.shirt with a beret and a very similar, if not the same, red bandana that his dog had been wearing in his birthday photos, singing old chansons! We nearly rolled off our seats!
Sadly the vet has now left his practice and set up a second-hand bookshop in Tarascon. Taking the dogs to the vet is just not going to be the same.

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