What an amazing sky !

Pyke dragged me out this evening. He ran around the house, teasing and showing off and insisted that I go out with him. I was a bit busy but stopped what I was doing because when he does that there’s usually something worth seeing, so I let him lead me to the end of the drive, then he stood there watching the sky. He’s a funny dog. 

He’s a Border Collie from good working stock and we got him to work with the goats and sheep and he does help a bit but gets bored easily then runs off to chase swallows and butterflies. We’ve given up trying to get him to work properly. 

In the village they call him “The poet”.

      Le poète est celui qui voit autrement, qui porte un regard neuf, émerveillé 
     sur ce qui est souvent ignoré par les autres hommes…

In English that means, “The poet is someone who sees things differently, in a new light, amazed at things which are often ignored by other people.”

I’ve never known a dog before who walks around sniffing flowers. The interesting thing is that his likes and dislikes are so similar to mine. Sweet smelling roses, Jasmine and Honeysuckle have a really positive effect on him and when he sniffs a flower he likes, he looks up at me, smiles and wags his tail.

We sat looking at the sky with the clouds moving slowly towards the west and as the sun crept over towards the horizon and the sky darkened we turned and walked towards the east where the wind was pushing and dividing the clouds into puffy balls and as it got stronger the little wind turbines suddenly started chugging into life. 

The wind got stronger and stronger and my little cardi suddenly felt very inadequate so I looked at Pyke and he looked at me then we went inside to the warm. 


Au revoir Judy – Bourrou May 2010

Our little wire-haired Dachsund Judy was in perfect health on Monday.

In the early evening we found her in a coma behind the house. Her gums were white and her limbs in spasm and I rushed her to the nearest vet. He said that she’d eaten rat poison. Neither us nor our neighbours use rat poison. She died without regaining consciousness.

We are devastated.

Notre petit Teckel Judy était en parfaite santé lundi midi.

En début de soirée nous l’avons trouvée dans un état comateux derrière la maison. Ses gencives étaient blanches et ses membres dans le spasme et je lui amenais en tout hâte vers la vétérinaire la plus proche. Il a dit qu’elle avait mangé du raticide. Ni nous, ni nos voisins utilisent le poison pour les rats.

Nous sommes dévastés.


Didi comes home from the vets after Parvo – spaced out but OK

One of our miniature Dachshunds, Didi was was very of colour last weekend. She wouldn’t eat and looked depressed so on Monday morning we took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with Parvo canine parvovirus.

She spent four days the veterinary hospital where she was on an intevenous drip while the disease ran its course. She’s skinny and tired but this weekend she looks much better and we hope she’ll be OK.

I’ve never come across Parvo before – this is the first time any of our dogs have ever been ill but in just a few hours Didi changed from being a bouncy playful little dog always full of energy with a constant “smile” to being tired and although she didn’t make any noise she looked as though she was in pain.

While she was at the vet I found out as much as I could about Parvo. It’s a viral disease that attacks the lining of the intestinal tract, bone marrow and immune system of dogs. The virus normally causes vomiting (Didi’s was a frothy yellow vomit), diarrhoea (usually foul-smelling and often with traces of blood), lethargy, depression, dehydration, high fever/chill and sudden death. Apparently, pups are more vulnerable to Parvo than adult dogs but even fully-vaccinated dogs, can die from Parvo.

Didi was put on a drip because dehydration is often cause of death with the Parvovirus, after the diarrhoea and vomiting. We were very lucky to have called the vet so quickly because without treatment, 80% of dogs who contract the virus die within a few days.

There’s some very good information about how dogs can contract the virus and how to identify symptoms and treat infected dogs in the WORKING DOGS site.

In that site I found out that some breeds of dog are more susceptible than others. For some reason, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and other black and tan breeds are especially prone to Parvo, and seem to succumb to parvo faster and with less chance of recovery than any other breed. If you have one of these breeds, it’s even more important to make certain your puppy or dog gets immunized properly.

All our dogs have now seen the vet, they have a clean bill of health and their vaccinations are up to date, so let’s hope that all’s well on the doggy front for some time to come.

Dog update – the new Dachshunds

We’ve had two miniature Dachshunds for some years and they really are wonderful little dogs.

Bonnie a wire haired miniature Dachshund at 8 years oldBonnie is now eight years old. She was our first Dachshund and I have to admit that I never used to like this breed because when I was a student in Glasgow my landlady had a horde of smooth-haired dogs and when I came in late they “welcomed” me home yapping and biting at my long skirts and flares. I always dreaded putting my key in the door.

I’ve loved dogs all my life but this particular breed makes me very nervous and when Fabrice was invited by one of his hunting friends to go and see a litter I could see what was coming.

We came home with this little creature who looked more like a rat than a dog on the understanding that she’d be sterilised as soon as she was old enough. I regret that now because Bonnie has grown into a very interesting, intelligent little dog and her main rôle in life is hunting with Fabrice and tracking animals injured by hunters or by cars. She’s fearless without being reckless and when she’s tracking she never gives up.

Didi a Poodle Yorkie cross with her rabbitBonnie had been with us for about five years, when her friend, our old dog Didi, a miniature Poodle and Yorkshire Terrier cross, died. Bonnie missed Didi a lot and as we had fallen in love with the Dachshund temperament we decided to look for another “mini-wire”.

We asked around, scoured the small ads and lists of breeders and discovered that finding a Miniature wired haired Dachshund (In French it’s Teckel nain a poil dur) wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be.

Didi a smooth wire haired miniature dachshundWe eventually found our dog who we called Didi III (Didi was the name of Fabrice’s first dog.) Although she’s a lovely dog and a great wee hunter she isn’t a good example of her breed with her shortish hair and slightly bent legs. Like many Dachshunds, she also has the annoying trait of having a false pregnancy after she’s been in season, so we don’t intend to let her have puppies either.

We decided after Max and Judy died that we’d look for another Dachshund and we spread the word and started looking again at breeders lists. After a lot of e-mails, ‘phone calls and visits to breeders to see pups, we got in contact with a couple who live about three hours from us who have bred long-haired Dachshunds for over 30 years and had recently bred a few wire haired pups from the berlioz de ker ki douar line.

The mother of our new pupsWe visited their farm and spent a few hours with the breeder, talking and being shown around and we were very impressed by the condition of all of their dogs and the cleanliness of the yard as well as their professionalism and willingness to answer questions.

Of course, the two pups available were adorable and their mother was bright eyed, calm and friendly and as you can see in the photo to the left, looked exactly like our Bonnie! Choosing between the pups was impossible so we had both !

For the moment, Bonnie and Didi are ignoring the pups, spending more time outside with our visitors than they do in the house which gives Pyke our Border Collie the chance to show them the ropes. He’s responding so well to their company and the responsibility, it’s a pleasure to see him finally growing up.

Our new Miniature wire haired Dachshund pups

Hurry up there's someone coming !As Angie pointed out I forgot to say what the pups names are !

Their kennel names are Ebony and Emine because dogs born this year have a name startin with “E” but we’ve decided to call the Honey coloured one Jessie and the darker one Judy but they don’t know that yet !

RIP our lovely Griffon Vendéen Judy.

Judy RIP
Au revoir Judy, originally uploaded by hardworkinghippy.

Our Griffon Vendéen Judy died on Thursday but I was too upset so soon after Max’s death to post anything about her in the blog.

She was a big happy silly dog who spent her last six years with us at Bourrou. We got her from Yan’s (The Spice Man) parents who found her badly injured by the side of the road. They took her to the vet and were presented with a bill for 6000 francs. She had no collar or tattoo and wasn’t chipped and despite trying for several weeks they never found her original owner.

They nursed her for three months until she was well and called her Lady because she was so elegant but as she was a hunting dog, Small photo of JudyJudy did what she loved to do and ran off regularly to hunt – sometimes disappearing for several days. Yan’s parents were concerned about her having another accident, or causing an accident – not to mention the havoc she would cause with the local wildlife. Having her became a constant worry for them and Yan asked us if we would be interested in taking her.

We were warned to be vigilant and we were – but despite that Judy would be with you, then you’d turn your back for a second and she’d be gone. A door ajar was an open invitation, she managed to just disappear when you least expected it and you’d hear her baying miles off in the woods. Judy escaped several times in the first month we had her. All the hunters in our area were supplied with her description and each time she was spotted, caught and brought back, tail wagging.

Fabrice is the local gamekeeper it just wasn’t on that we had an errant dog, so, regretfully, we decided to build a compound for her where she’d be secure when we couldn’t keep her on a lead.

She hated the compound with a vengeance (It’s now become a park for weaners when they first arrive so we can see them from the house.) and sulked and moped and looked so sad at not being included in what was going on, so we bought a chain and she was like many other dogs in France tied up under a tree just behind the back terrace and she was quite content!

She’d obviously been loved in her last home. She was affectionate with Fabrice and our other dogs and loved children and knew what a sofa was for but at first she completely ignored me. (Which is very disconcerting indeed!)

For the first six weeks she was here she never responded to her name “Lady”. During those first few weeks we acquired a Mynah bird, Arthur, who’s owner was going back to the UK. He (Although we found out later Arthur was a “she”!) was a real character with a good vocabulary and every so often he would shout “Judy” in a high pitched voice. We noticed that as soon as Arthur shouted “Judy” Judy would look up at Arthur, so we decided to rename her Judy and from then on Lady became Judy and we had no problem getting her to respond to her name!

Our Griffon Vendeen Judy and Fabrice PlayingDogs like Judy need a lot of exercise and in the summer Fabrice and his hunting colleagues take their dogs to a training and exercising park to re-hone their skills, train new dogs and initiate new hunters. Judy started going with them and it was obvious she knew exactly what was expected of her. When the hunting season opened Judy went out with the pack and from that day onwards she never ran away from home.

She was always Fabrice’s dog – a man’s dog – and I never played a big part in her life until about 18 months ago when she “retired” and I started to care for her more when she became weak with the cancer which finally killed her.

It seems ridiculous now to think that I was afraid of her when she first came. Wary, because somehow I couldn’t “connect” with her. Judy was the most gentle, placid dog I’ve ever known and we’re all going to miss her.

Lovely Judy

Pyke our new Border Collie herding for the first time

Shearing has started and Pyke has been helping to bring the goats in three times a day. The last day of shearing he did the job perfectly and we’re so pleased that he’s enjoying himself.

We’ve been walking him a lot with the goats since he arrived but keeping an eye on what’s happening because it would be a shame if the goats attacked him and he was afraid and put off working with them for life.

The repetition over the past few days has obviously paid off. We’ve still not managed to get him to concentrate when we want him to but his behaviour has really improved over the past couple of weeks.

Dog in the manger - Pyke watching us shear the Angora goats

We even invited him in to watch what we were doing on the condition that he sat still and didn’t stress the goats and he behaved impeccably!

This chicken had 17 chicks…

….Pyke our new Border Collie ate four of them.

When we got new ducklings, Bonnie one of our Dachshunds killed four of them while we were looking on. Fabrice immediately picked her up by the scruff of the neck and shook her whilst holding a dead duck in his other hand and she never did it again.

Pyke and I have spent a while looking at the hen with her chicks through a wire cage. I thought it was safe to let the hen and her chicks out in the garden in the early evening to let them have a grub about not too far away from the chicken house before it was time for bed. While I was tidying up the garden Pyke disappeared.

I went to look for him and caught him with a chick in his mouth. I screamed at him, grabbed a stick and hit the metal sides of the chicken shed and he ran off and dropped the chick into a bucket. Fabrice came because he heard all the noise and held Pyke while I showed him the dead chick and smacked the hard plastic bucket with a stick and making as much noise as I could, screamed “No” in his face then put his face into the bucket so that he could see the chick again.

Then we ignored him for about 15 minutes and went down to see how the hen and chicks were. When we came back up he was very shamefaced but we had a cuddle and it was forgotten.

We’ve had 13 chicks for three days now, I’m sure he’s understood that the chicks are not to be touched.

When Pyke came at first he was very strange. It took him two weeks before he looked me in the eye. When I tried to talk to him he’d ignore me and even when I held him, he wriggled away turning his head from side to side. He pulled constantly on the lead and didn’t come when he’s called. He doesn’t seem to know any commands apart from sit and give a paw. He bullied our little Dachshund Didi and jumps up on anything he can – including people. We sorted him out about Didi by telling her that she could fight back and she did!

We knee him in the stomach when he jumps, make him sit to have his dinner. We’re having to be very strict with him and the poor dog doesn’t know what’s hit him. He becomes extremely nervous when we speak to him seriously and he’s been hit by sticks in the past because he’s very wary when you pick one up.

Now, after a month here he’s settling down and “smiling” more. He has more stamina because he’s getting a lot of exercise and he’s starting to look at us and want to be with us. he really enjoys going out and doing the rounds and he’s learned a lot of simple things like waiting until a gate is open properly and we’ve got through before jumping over to push it open. He’s not at all motivated by food but by praise and he knows when he’s a good dog and understands “No”.

About a week ago I had the perfect opportunity to watch Pyke and see how he reacted to Didi protecting her mole from a Cheeky cockerel. You can draw your own conclusions about his behaviour.

I was curious to see what happened after Pyke had settled down on the terrace, so I kept filming…

RIP … Our lovely Border Collie Max

Our dog Max died this morning.

He was a beautiful faithful dog and a great worker who really earned his keep. I loved him so much and we’re going to miss him.

He’s not really been himself for about a month, he’d become deaf and it annoyed him and I think when Pyewackett our new Border Collie came he just decided to give up. He had an epileptic fit last night and never recovered properly. Fabrice took him out for a pee early this morning and had to carry him back in.

He died peacefully with Fabrice looking over him. He would have been 14 in October. This is my favourite photo of him taken three years ago in the garden at Bourrou.

Max at 11 years old 2007

Nettie from The France Forum posted this poem for us, and for Max.

Burying a dog

There are various places in which a dog may be buried.
I am thinking now of a Setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine, and who, so far as I am aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought.
This Setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam.
And at its proper season, the cherry tree strews petals on the green lawn of his grave.
Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub is an excellent place to bury a dog.
Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavoursome bone, or lifted his head to challenge some strange intruder.
These are good places in life or in death.

Yet, it is a small matter, for if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps.
On a hill where the wind is unrebuked, and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppy hood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture lane where most exhilarating cattle grazed, is all one to the dog, and all one to you.
And nothing is gained, nothing is lost if memory lives.
But, there is one place to bury a dog.

If you bury him in this spot, he will come to you when you call – come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again.
And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel, they shall not growl at him nor resent his coming, for he belongs there. People may laugh at you who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall…who hear no whimper, people who never really had a dog.
Smile at them, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.

The one best place to bury a dog is in the heart of his master.

Bonnie and Didi saying goodbye to Max

Bonnie sat outside at Max’s grave for two days.

Bonnie stayed where Max is buried all day

Announcing the arrival of our new Border Collie Mr Pye or Pyke or….

As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of our blog, we’ve been looking for another Border Collie to work with Max. We tried a mating using Max as the sire which didn’t work unfortunately, so we’ve kept looking out for suitable pups, spreading the word that we were still looking.

This dog is from the same bloodlines as Max. He’s big boned and long-haired and of course a Blue Merle Border with one brown and one blue eye – which is taking a bit of getting used to! (Correction, I’ve just discovered he’s a Black Merle! More details later…)

His presence is so like Max’s that we thought it would be worth a try to train him to work with our sheep and goats. He’s almost a year old. His previous owners kept him in an apartment and that just didn’t work out so we decided to take him and give him a job.
We’ve also changed his name to Pyewackett as someone (Who shall remain nameless!) said recently that our animals were all our “familiars”.

Pyewackett can be shortened to something easier to use when he’s working but we’ll wait and see what that turns out to be when we get to know him better.

Real Time Analytics