Fréjus, France

Fréjus, France
Aqueduc Romain

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

La Vie de la Chienne (Maggie's Life), as seen by Lisa

Peter Mayle seems to be background reading 101 for life in the south of France. I have dutifully read “A Year in Provence”, “Toujours Provence” and “A Good Year” and brought “Encore Provence” and “A Dog’s Life.” I haven’t read it yet but I think the latter is a first-dog account of life here. Maggie’s story is not going to be her words, because, well, she doesn’t have words, and to substitute my language into her head seems silly, and dumb. So this is her story, as seen by me.

Maggie had a rough trip cross country. This was not known until she was able to stop riding in her crate, ie after we landed in Michigan. Three straight days of driving were hard on this dog. She rode in her crate so quietly that I would often ask Rick if he remembered to put the dog in the car after a pit stop. She sometimes slept, sometimes sat up looking out the back window, thinking her dog thoughts. She ate no dog food during these three days but did accept some pizza crust. She only ate after the Michigan arrival when bribed by chicken broth poured over her dog food. She also peed in Nana’s house, completely unlike her. So my medical, catastrophic mind speeds toward rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown from the immobility) and kidney failure. Just when we were preparing to take her to the vet she starts to drink, pee and poop outside, be interested in food, and perk up. She milks the chicken broth bribe several weeks into her stay.

Leaving her with Gramma and Grampa Browne was hard. We knew it would be several weeks and piles of (fingers crossed!) paperwork until she arrived in Paris. They took great care of her, their yard is the best she’ll see in a while. Between them, Aunt Kari, and Nana, Maggie managed to get on a plane to Paris, and we managed to find her at Charles de Gaulle, and I already told that story!!

Though she seemed healthy and perky after her arrival Maggie took a couple days to get into the swing of Paris apartment living. The cats rejected her immediately. One of them returned to MIA status, the other hissed and scratched at her, then took to a basket way up high. The guinea pig scurried into his den when Maggie would sniff the cage, of course after crapping all over his fresh sawdust bedding. Maggie got stares on the streets of Paris. “Un loup”--a wolf--muttered under the breath of fellow pedestrians; little children pulled away by their fearful grandmothers. She didn’t know what to make of the pee-stained sidewalks or little pieces of dog turd we would encounter on our walks. We dutifully carried our plastic bag everywhere, ready to clean up after her, but she wouldn’t go. Not even in the delicious forbidden grass of the park. We were again on poop watch. She was eating, so what goes in must come out....and it finally did. Finally, she realized our little courtyard was her spot. She trotted around, hopping frantically into the pots of bamboo and out again, finally settling on the concrete near the back gate, over a grate. That became the pee spot too. Clean up was a breeze! She even started to become Parisian Dog, becoming accustomed to the circular sandy areas surrounding the trees. Unfortunately the common image of “dog in restaurant” did not happen for us. We expected we could take her anywhere--metro, bus, stores, PARKS--but no, dogs “interdit” most everywhere. We could have taken her to a café or brasserie and sat outside with her under the table but she doesn’t lay placidly while being nipped at by tiny terriers. She scoots around our legs to hide, bewildered these toy dogs take her on. She is big enough that she would likely tip a tiny café table, or two or three, in the process.

Leaving Paris, Maggie reveled in space. Our Renault Trafic van that we took to Alsace was so spacious she got a whole seat to herself. The gîte where we stayed for a week was fenced and big enough for her to run around in, and had a grassy area for dignified and discreet elimination. She spent her days playing with children or napping in the shade under the stairs.

We are now in our permanent home, and like the rest of our accommodations we have slick tile floors. This makes for easy dog hair cleaning and cool floors for sleeping, but also makes for a slip-sliding dog when Maggie tries to move fast. The large and beautiful courtyard outside our building is dog friendly. Maggie has met a playful Doberman-mix (we see many more large dogs down here than in Paris) and a feisty Jack Russel who is called “vilain!” by his owner whenever he goes after Maggie. There are handy signs reminding us to clean up after the dog, as if!
Maggie has not yet adjusted to the weather. She has always been skittish with loud noise, and this includes thunder. Now we have discovered that she is afraid of wind, too. I hear there are many types of winds that blow through the south, so I’m not yet sure I can call the winds of September the Mistral. But we’ve had some intense windy days. There is something about the wind that scares her, to the point of climbing up next to someone (usually me) no matter what the tight surroundings. There is comfort in a den.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the update on Maggie. In all the activity, we forget she has thoughts and feelings also. But, she seems to be more in her comfort zone with a settled life of "normal?" activity.
Love you much, Mom