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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Best Friends

Although spring and warm weather had deliciously descended on France come March, my friend and I found ourselves hurriedly preparing for a trip to the decidedly colder and wetter UK, taking my larger car so she could return with a few final treasures from her mother’s estate, now that the house had been sold.

 Innis turned cartwheels to find us dog-friendly accommodation in places where we knew we could take them for long walks through Exmoor, a particularly beautiful area in southwest England near her mother’s former home. Too late we discovered that we’d missed the dogs’ rabies shot renewal by a few weeks.

Here in France, rabies vaccinations aren’t even legally required but we’d naturally had them inoculated for everything after their microchipping as puppies and had everything documented on their puppy passports. England, however, is, well, rather rabid about rabies vaccines. And we’d blown it. Missing the annual deadline meant having to have them inoculated, then wait four months to have them get a blood test to prove sufficient antibodies and only then would they be permitted across the border.  I suggested we have their antibody levels tested immediately to illustrate they were still protected. Nope. Unacceptable. There was no way to get around the bureaucracy.

Only an animal lover would understand how devastated we were. And we couldn’t cancel the trip because it wasn’t pure vacation and the cottages had been prepaid, to boot, and were non-refundable. And the few individuals we would trust to look after not one but both little dogs (they can be a lively handful) were unavailable. We looked at each other in dread when we realized there was only one solution—we had to find a kennel.

The vet in Ligueil recommended one in Charnizay, about halfway between my home and Innis’s, so off we went, fully expecting to be riddled with guilt when we saw it. What we saw was a huge farm run by a man who breeds border collies and West Highland terriers, and trains the collies in sheep herding. The kennel cages were spacious with a covered run area and the owner, clearly a dog lover, assured us they could stay together, he didn’t mind the extra work involved in preparing their food (versus feeding them kibble as is the norm) and said they’d get three periods every day where they'd be free to roam unmolested by other dogs inside the massively fenced in area surrounding the kennel cages. We convinced ourselves they were going to camp and would have a great time while we would be the ones languishing, missing them terribly.

So, for the first time on one of our joint holidays the days have been dragging, we’ve each been a bit stressed and we can’t wait to see them again come Easter weekend. We’ve only had these dogs for 18 months and yet we can’t seem to remember how to truly enjoy ourselves without their company. It seems that man’s best friend is woman’s best friend, too!

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