In January we bought our newest dog, Harry from a refuge nearby. The owner was quite adamant that she preferred the English as dog owners as opposed to the French. This got me thinking and unfortunately she may well be right in some cases.
French dogs fall into 3 broad categories:
The French love their hunting. As well as the big packs of hounds owned by specific hunts you will find many owners of a few of their own hounds, kept in kennels and taken out with a group of fellow huntsmen through the hunting season. These dogs are not pets – they are kept outside in kennels, are not house trained and are generally a bit wiffy if you pass by their kennels. They quite often get lost whilst hunting but usually have the phone number of their owner somewhere in their collar so can be reunited. They are very much working dogs but it makes me chuckle that huntsmen often spend as much time chasing after their lost dogs as the dogs do chasing after their quarry.
The Small Pampered Pooch
You know the image: Paris, a chic lady and her small pampered pooch at her side or in her bag. Small dogs that go everywhere with their owner and are incredibly spoilt (I've seen dogs with their own seats in restaurants). Every town has their own pooch parlour, in fact Condé has 2, as these dogs exist not just in Paris but throughout France. Don't be put off by the diamanté accessories though, whilst adored by their owner these dogs can be snappy towards strangers.
The Large Dog
Look around and you'll see plenty of large dogs. Some will be on chains, others in enclosed gardens but rarely will they be in the house. Outside in all weathers, never walked, sad, bored and either overweight or more often underweight. They bark at strangers, are not used to other dogs and to be quite frank I don't know why their owners have them.
At the refuge, the lady had a lot of large dogs. Maybe at some point not long after getting their dog the owners didn't like having this large creature barking in their garden all the time. Some escape and their owners didn't look too hard for them. Others are left tied to the refuge fence or in the case of a mid-sized terrier cross we saw when we were there, simply flung over the gate into the refuge.
I appreciate these are huge generalisations. I know our lovely neighbour had a large dog who lived in the house with her, had regular walks and when his time came due to an eye tumour she did the kindest thing and had him put down. Igor was lovely and she was so sad when he died. But then there are the hunting dogs locally who are exactly as described above and the dog who lives a couple of fields away which, as far as I am aware, has never left the garden. As for pampered pooches - they are everywhere and if you are thinking about a business to set up in France I reckon you'd not go far wrong with selling canine accessories or running yet another pooch parlour.
So when we rang up the refuge to see about getting a puppy we had seen advertised (he was gone) the owner was over the moon that we were English and might take Harry. We will never know if we saved him from a life in a garden or on a chain but as I sit here typing he is currently snuggled up on his bed across the room from me, possibly dreaming of the walk he'll get later and I think, without a doubt, a happy dog.
Do you think I have categorised French dogs correctly? Have I missed any out?