First, just to say, you can now read about my French adventures at Hello! Magazine Online. Maybe you have already! If not, then here is a an update! And my column/blogs can still be found in Cardiff Life Magazine too every month.
Right, now, you might remember that, not long ago, Lee and I went along to pick out a four-legged addition to our household: a Miniature Schnauzer puppy named Hank. The breed chosen by me, because I’m allergic to nearly every other ‘make’, and the name chosen by Lee. I’m told it’s after a character in the US TV series ‘Californication’. I’ve never seen it so I trust his namesake is a good role model!
Schnauzer Hank began life at a breeder in France near to where Lee plays his rugby. We arrived at a house in the heart of the French countryside to be greeted excitedly by puppy parents (human ones and doggy ones) before being shown Hank’s litter in the nursery. He was snuggled up sweetly with his brother and 2 sisters. Then we were invited to sit down in the dining room for a drink and chat.
Of course, as first-time schnauzer owners, we had plenty of questions. But, it seemed the tables were being turned. Hank’s breeders were quizzing us instead. ‘Have you had dogs before? ’. Then back to the keyboard. ‘Why did you want a miniature schnauzer? ’. Perhaps in France puppy ‘adoption’ interviews are the norm, we thought, although we were a little under prepared for the interrogation. Then to our relief they suddenly flipped the screen around for us and we realised the determined typing was into a translation website. The likes of which had been our saviour on a daily basis since we live in an area of France where not a great deal of English is spoken. On this occasion we were grateful not to be the ones doing the word searching!
Once we’d proved our worth as owners, we were told a little more about Hank. At 2 weeks old, he was already developing a little personality. ‘Greed’ being the predominant trait! It was no coincidence that he was already the biggest of his litter and growing faster than all of them. He was always first in and last out at feeding time, jostling the others aside. Good job that I’m already used to a man is rarely out of the fridge and who needs more food than most!
When we returned to collect him 6 weeks later, ‘attention-seeker’ had been added to his character description! We were beginning to wonder what had we let ourselves in for? Mind you, attention-seeking I can cope with. There’s no limit on cwtches. My only hope is he was easier to housetrain than a husband!
Speaking of which, preparing the house for a mini-canine turned out to be an experience in itself. The language barrier got the better of us in the pet shop. I wanted to check what we had picked out was suitable for a puppy. The French word for puppy is chiot – pronounced ‘she-oh’. Not – as we mistakenly said: ‘she-ott’. There’s a subtle and crucial difference. The latter translates as a curse word for a toilet. I’ll leave it to your imagination, but it was little wonder the cashier looked dazed and confused when we asked whether the treats we were buying were ok (to put it politely) for the bog!
Finally, before I go, I’ll let you into a little secret. Anglo-French confusion also caught us out with naming conventions. Hank is actually Iggy. Confused? Well, in France, unbeknown to us, the rule is that you register any pedigree dog born in the year 2013 with a name starting with the letter ‘I’. Next year it‘ll be ‘J’ and so on and so forth. But our heart was already set on Hank so, whilst officially his first name is Iggy, he’ll be called by his middle name! After all, it’s good enough for Brad….