So we moved from the weirdness of a French New Year’s Eve to the craziness that is Tommo the three-legged Keeshond, who came to stay for a week and caused great disruption to the Parish household. Tommo is the dog of my son Ian and his fiancée Emma. He is a Keeshond which is a sort of Spitz like dog which originates from Holland. (Apparently they were used as guard dogs on barges). Tommo has only three legs having lost one due to an accident with a bicycle. Not one he was riding but which collided with him when he was little, long before Ian and Emma acquired him.

Despite three legs Tommo gets around fine, although he has to take care when “cocking his leg” to make sure he is the right way round or else he falls over! He is quite a crazy dog and last week he came over with Ian and Emma to stay with us (My youngest daughter Amy also came with them). The cats were not best pleased as Tommo, like most dogs likes to bark at cats and if they run away he has to run after them. Of course if the cat doesn’t run, Tommo is likely to panic and run away himself. Our cats are not used to dogs (apart from Pepito next door and he is caged up most of the time. So as soon as Tommo arrived and took over the house the cats disappeared double quick. Of course only until meal times but they were very nervous and after eating snuck upstairs out of the way. Minou was the bravest and came down to inspect this new arrival. She waited until Tommo was asleep and then came over to have a closer look. Archie kept his distance but growled a lot.  Archie and Minou both took any opportunity to try out dog biscuits left in the bowl!! Moggie, who is usually quite reckless (at things like climbing trees, paws down mouse holes etc.) was the most afraid and even had to be encouraged in for meals.

These days’ dogs have their own passports and have to be wormed by a vet before they can return to Britain. On Monday last week Ian, Emma and Amy went off to Laval to do some shopping. Mrs. Parish and I agreed to look after Tommo for the day and to make an appointment at the vet. It so happened that the vet could see us that day so we decided to take him along to Ambrieres and to the vet. Taking Tommo is a car is an experience. He does not like travelling and refuses to sit in the boot space. He also whines all the time so I sat in the back seat with Tommo while Mrs. Parish drove. At the vets Tommo was not keen to go into the surgery and even less keen to let the vet put a worm tablet in his mouth. The vet forced his mouth and got the tablet in but before he could be made to swallow he managed to spit it out. The second time he jammed his jaws shut to make sure nothing got in. Except that the vet’s fingers were still there. After about 10 minutes the vet asked us to help so there were three of us holding Tommo and trying to get the tablet far enough in to force it down. Each time the tablet came flying out of his mouth. We then tried adding the tablet to a treat. Tommo was having none of that nonsense and we ended up with tablet and soggy biscuit all over the floor. After 20 minutes of wrestling the vet gave up and decided to give him an injection! Throughout this process the conversations between us and the vet were carried out in a sort of Franglais as she spoke some English and we tried our French. Interestingly we all swore in our own language!

After this we decided to take Tommo for a walk to calm him down. Tommo is a strange dog and likes nothing more than to sit in water. As a barge dog he should like swimming but no, he just likes to go in water where he can sit down. He is also very hairy! We decided to take him along an old disused rail track rather than next the river but nonetheless Tommo found plenty of puddles to sit in and on the way back to the car the heavens opened and we all got very wet. This of course meant a very wet dog in the back of our car and a very wet dog sitting on me as I had to sit next to him. I arrived home a wet and muddy mess.

On Tuesday we all went out and on our way home decided to call into our local butcher to see if we could get a bone for Tommo. Mrs Parish and Emma went into ask the butcher, Monsieur Rebuffe. Yes he did have bones for dogs but needed to know what size dog to match the bone. So he looked Tommo over with an expert eye and said he had a bone just the right size and would allow for the fact that he only had three legs! So Tommo got home and was given the bone, but outside to avoid bone mess in the house. Tommo is a bit strange and likes to be accompanied while he eats his bone. So Ian went out with him for a while.  When Ian came in after a few minutes Tommo realised he was on his own and wanted to come inside. As soon as he was inside he wanted to go out for his bone. This in and out process went on for the next half hour. The cats were very interested in this and started to circle around the courtyard hoping for a chance to inspect the bone at close quarters!

Tommo has now gone back to England and the cats are pleased to get their house back. It’s amazing how they knew that Tommo was gone and immediately resumed their former arrangements in front of the fire on the sofa. Moggie has developed an interest in snooker. I have on occasions this week watched the Masters Snooker on TV. When it is on Moggie has been jumping up on the TV table and trying to catch the snooker balls through the screen. Why is it that all the animals I know are completely eccentric. Mrs. Parish reckons that the animals adjust their behaviour to the people that they come in contact with and that therefore it is all my own fault!!

Talking of Mrs. Parish she returned last week from her yoga class with an important announcement. She has been going to yoga on a weekly basis for a few months now. The classes take place in a little town called Lassay Les Chateaux, which is about 30 minutes away from us. Apparently her French Yoga teacher is a bit “alternative” and into the mystic, meditational forms of yoga. I’m afraid that every time she mentions him I have this mental image of the little green man, Yoda, from the star wars films. Mrs. Parish sighs at this and then reminds me why our cats are so strange! Anyway Mrs. Parish came home last week from yoga with a “chant”. This it seems is a special yoga chant which you are supposed to repeat as a means of meditation and apparently if repeated often enough will cause a wish to come true. The only problem with this is the chant has to be repeated some half a million times before it will work. This would take over 6 months of no stop chanting. I suggest that it may be that a few repeats will still bring us luck and that maybe we should try it out with the French national lottery which this week has a roll over and is worth 4 million Euros.

So Mrs. Parish duly arrives home on Saturday with a French lottery ticket and we sit down on Saturday night waiting for the lottery results. The French are very sensible about their lottery and don’t have a load of old nonsense on the TV to pack out the results. They just have a bloke on and the balls arrive and the result is announced with a map showing which department the winner is from. It’s all over in 5 minutes. Lights flash around a map of France and we are confident it will stop on Mayenne. But no winner at all and another rollover. Maybe we need to do some more chanting as we did not get a single number!

Finally this week we had the lamb feast as we had enough guests to make getting the leg of lamb out of the freezer. This is the leg of lamb we got from Patrick for letting his sheep graze in our paddocks. As we had Ian, Emma and Amy to stay we decided we could manage it between us. So the leg of lamb was taken from the freezer under armed guard and taken into the house for defrosting. We had to make sure the lamb was safe from marauding cats. The lamb took some time to defrost and after hiding it in the microwave as a safe place, Mrs. Parish cooked a wonderful roast leg of lamb braised in Beaujolais. It was lovely and there was even a bit left for Tommo and the cats to try. They all liked it very much. We are waiting for our second leg of lamb to arrive from our friend Alex as we also looked after her sheep.

So, now Mrs. Parish and I are back to our normal peaceful and quiet routine or we would if it were not for the crazy cats. More about them next week, when hopefully the blog will return to its normal weekly slot.

A la prochaine