Occupy Court Colbert

Occupy Cours Colbert


The protestors are napping, as they dream of meals to come.

I’ve temporarily switched them to good quality canned food, as I needed the freezer space for the humans in the house (what a concept!) The good side of this is that it is a bit easier. The bad side is that if, like this week, I miscalculate when I should place my order, I wind up without any food for the canines.

Dawg forbid they should eat the stuff out of a bag. To be honest, they probably wouldn’t mind, but we would, as every time  I try to feed them dried food, there is an outbreak of deadly festulance that almost drives JM and me out of the house. Not to mention the diarrhea that makes Peaches, in particular, demand to be taken out for urgent  3 am walks; something I would truly rather not do.

So, when I looked and noticed that my order from Zooplus was not going to be delivered before Friday at the earliest, I went on a hunt to, quite literally, bring home the bacon! In fact, it turned out to be turkey. I went over to the Huit á 8 and discovered two turkey legs that had reached their sell by date. They were on special for 2€ a piece, making them even less expensive than canned food. I snatched them up and have them in the pressure cooker with a bunch of vegetables.

It made JM and I realize that our dogs probably take for granted the fact that they dine like kings and think that ALL dogs should live this way. We are going to puppy sit good-dog Vicky while her human slave is in the hospital having hip replacement surgery. Vicky eats kibble. Clearly, I cannot give her kibble while my dogs get turkey stew or similar. So, the question is: what will Vicky say when she goes back home? Already she sits outside our door half the time, staring intently at the door knob and willing it to open so that treats will fall directly into her waiting mouth.

I think the protests will be long and tough, and all I can do is hope that they don’t tell 1000 of their doggie friends about the delights that reside Chez Lofficier!

Ciao for now.



Don't bother me; I'm sleeping


I’ve taken the political term DINO and have decided it serves me well, as my furry friends are really Dogs In Name Only.

This has been brought home to me as I have been searching for a kennel where I can leave them for several days when JM and I head off to visit his parents in Toulon. Not having Mom around does now make it possible for me to go away, but only if we have a good solution for the dogs. I know that French hotels are more accommodating than American ones when it comes to pets, but asking any hotel to take two dogs the size of ours is really not possible.

We have a decent place in Roquefixade where we have left them in the past, but the problem is that Roquefixade is really not near anything. We are taking the train from Carcassonne, and in order to leave the dogs there, we would have to leave them two days ahead of time on Saturday, because the kennel is closed on Sunday and we wouldn’t have time to both go there AND make our train on Monday.

So, we decided to search closer to Limoux or Carcassonne. I discovered that there were actually several possibilities, but I didn’t have any personal recommendations and wasn’t about to make a reservation without checking into the facilities myself.

We visited the first one on Tuesday. If Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme had a “love child,” then this guy would be it. I swear that I have never met anyone less verbal or more scary in my life. Both JM and I were quaking when we left. It’s silly, because I’m sure that he’s a perfectly decent person, but he clearly is lacking in people skills.

Besides that, we clearly had a philosophical difference about how dogs are fed, raised and treated. To him, it was obvious they are animals, to us, they are little people with furry suits. He feeds all the dogs there Royal Canin kibble, I feed mine either home prepared or a very high quality canned brand that is almost all meat, with some vegetables and no grains. He looked at me like there was something wrong with me mentally for doing that, and although he said he would feed them what I brought, I could tell he didn’t like it one bit.

That was clearly NOT going to work out.

I next called a place that just from its name struck me as being more in tune with my philosophy: Les Animaux en Vacance. Yep, clearly not someone who thinks of dogs as farm animals.

We went to check it out yesterday, and I have to say both JM and I felt comfortable right away. The place is basically a large house on several, fenced, hectares of land right in the middle of grape vines. The fence is high enough to keep Shmoo in and has an electric wire running around the base to keep the dogs away from it for digging purposes.

Except for a place we used in L.A. that was more expensive per day than the hotels we stayed in, I haven’t found another facility like this; certainly not since we’ve moved. The dogs are outside, free to run around and play all day, and have the entire basement of the house, filled with beds and cushions for sleeping at night. And, when the weather is cooler so the heat doesn’t get inside, the house is left open all day so the dogs can go inside and hang out there too if they want to.

There were about eight dogs there yesterday when we visited. All of them were happy and friendly. They all got along and there was no growling or fighting. On top of that, leaving both dogs will cost us less per day than just leaving Maggie at the place we used in L.A. And, not only was there no problem about our bringing their food, it is expected.

For the first time since we moved here, I feel that we have an excellent solution for the dogs even if we only want to go away for a day trip. It’s between Limoux and Cepie, so not a problem  to get to, and the young woman who runs it is clearly of the same mindset as us.

Let’s hear it for the DINO lovers!

Ciao for now.


Feeding Raw

We’ve passed the two month mark with me changing the dogs over to raw and I thought I’d report for those of you thinking about it or just interested in how it’s going. 

As far as the dogs are concerned, it is a rousing success! Shmoo hasn’t fussed once about not eating  since we started and Peaches, who didn’t mind the old way, is even more excited about mealtimes and if I’m five minutes late in putting down their dishes, she comes to watch me with drool coming out of her mouth. 

I really am delighted to see Shmoo rediscover his love of food. I’ve always felt uncomfortable that I couldn’t tell if he was off his food because of illness or boredom. And, the dog who wouldn’t eat if there was a vegetable on his plate, now licks up every last molecule of food, no matter what it’s origin. 

I have calmed down a lot in worrying over whether I was feeding them properly or not. After all, the humans in the family manage to survive quite happily on the food I prepare, so why should the dogs be any different?

The cost is harder to compare, since I buy the meat for them with my weekly shop and the frozen chicken patties come with my frozen food order for our food. However, if I consider what I pay per kilo versus what a kilo of dried food costs for a premium brand that I have to get shipped from Germany, I think it’s very similar. First, most supermarkets here sell leftover meat for animals, so it’s not a special order. It’s all meat that was fit for human consumption, but may be cuts that are a day past when they can sell them for people or just scraps that would otherwise be thrown away. Also, the guy we buy our beef from gives me 10 or 15 kilos of scraps for free when he delivers my order. 

I buy a dried veggie mix that I rehydrate, salmon oil and a super greens blend of stuff like kelp, wheat grass and digestive enzymes from the pet food store I use and I do buy dried meat treats. But that’s all stuff I bought anyway. 

The dogs, who looked good before, look even better now. Peaches had a kind of thin coat, even in winter, and now it’s much, much thicker and both dogs feel soft and silky to the touch. 

I suppose the downside for me is that I no longer have as much freezer space for the humans’s food and I do spend a bit more time in preparation, but that’s really just a matter of thinking about meals a bit ahead of time more than anything else. 

So, all-in-all, this has been a positive experience for all involved. 

Ciao for now,


Close Encounters

Of the tree sheep kind!

We were out on our lunch walk when Peaches went totally bat shit nuts! There was a squirrel on a tree (very low tree too) right in front of her! The poor squirrel was trying to get across the path to a tree closer to the river, but Peaches was having NONE of that, thank you very much!

Shmoo (on leash) felt that he needed to get involved, but at least I was able to drag him away. We didn’t want either of them to hurt the poor thing. We have lovely, red squirrels here. They are much sweeter than the evil, grey gang squirrels in L.A.

Realizing that there was no way he was going to get past the hound of hell, the squirrel made a run for an alternate route by going back the way it had come and through another garden. Of course the Peach took off in hot pursuit.

Normally, she has an excellent recall and even comes back from chasing after cats. But I’m afraid the provocation of a squirrel hunt was too much and she just went BC deaf and blind: “I can’t see you; I can’t hear you, so you can call me as much as you want, I’m not coming!”

Finally, because she was chasing it into places I consider dangerous (there’s a semi-abandoned garden that looks more like a dump than a garden), I decided I had to go after her and put her on leash. Luckily, after I climbed a low fence and got to within a few feet of her, she actually DID come to me, so I was able to clip on her leash and tell her what a good girl she was, even though I wasn’t “feeling” that way inside!

I guess the squirrel made it safely across the path. The dogs are now both sacked out, dreaming dreams of squirrel hunts with “happier” endings.

Ciao for now.


After Season

We’re having a beautiful “after season” here, which is what we tend to call the brief moment between summer and true fall; I suppose it’s “Indian Summer” in English.

The nights and mornings are starting to be COLD; it got down into the single digits last night and I think we may have reached the stage when we can no longer leave the windows open at night. That’s a shame, really, because I love the cool night air. But if you start seeing your breath when you get up to go the bathroom, then it’s probably a bit too cool!

By mid-morning, however, the sun is out and the air has warmed up to the high 60s or low 70s, so it is just about perfect. You really don’t want to be inside if you can find any excuse at all to go out. As always, when the weather is nice, the villagers spend hours outside on benches chatting away. We all know that these days won’t last for long and we want to profit from them as long as possible.

The cooler temperatures have gotten me back in the kitchen for “real” cooking, something I’ve avoided a lot during the summer heat. I’m feeling like making long, slow-cooked meals in the crock pot and I’ve been baking bread several times a week. That is also because our bakery is closed for their annual holiday, but how serendipitous that it coincided with a change in the weather and a desire to “nest!”

The only fly in the ointment happened not outside, but somewhere within our own four walls! Poor Peaches came down the stairs on Saturday afternoon limping badly. She was actually crying in pain when we tried to figure out what was wrong and we wound up having to take her to the vet. She clearly pulled a muscle or sprained a joint and for the life of us, we have no idea how it happened. We didn’t see her do anything; didn’t hear the dogs roughhousing before hand nor any yelps of pain, so it remains a mystery.

She is much better today, but still limps a bit. I guess we may never know what happened. Still, it doesn’t seem to have stopped her from enjoying our walks in the beautiful weather and I’m glad she doesn’t have to be totally confined to house rest.

Ciao for now,


The Collector

Unbelievably, it has now been almost eight months since our little Miz Peaches LaRoo waltzed into our lives. The time has really zipped by and she has made wonderful progress integrating into our little family unit.

Peaches settled and happy

I need another treat!

She is Border Collie through and through, so there are quirks aplenty, of course. She learns everything (whether we want her to or not) with lightning speed. She goes towards every action with joy and enthusiasm, consequences be damned. No one will EVER sneak up on us, as unlike her placid brother Shmoo, Peaches is protective of her family and will bark at the slightest noise. This is good if a burglar wants to get in; this is bad if we are trying to sleep with the windows open on a warm summer’s night.

New things in the home are greeted with a certain modicum of suspicion and must prove themselves to be not a threat. It took several days for the new fan we purchased for the television room to be accepted as a “good” thing and not a “bad” one. It was a bit touch and go for a while though, but we are now all able to enjoy a cool breeze while watching TV of an evening.

I was quite concerned about thunderstorms, as our darling Diva Maggie was completely terrorized by them and only managed to get through them with a dose of Xanax. In fact, that didn’t even totally calm her down, just made it so that she was a quaking puddle of terror. I was very pleased to note that Miz Peaches doesn’t seem to mind thunder in the least; following the lead of big brother Shmoo and snoozing peacefully right through even the loudest booms without the slightest twitch of an ear.

We still have to get through the 14th of July next week, of course, so fingers remain crossed for that. I am not expecting miracles, but luckily, as long as she is safely inside our house, she seems to feel secure no matter what is going on outside, and I’m hoping this will hold true for firecrackers and fireworks as well.

I am also very pleased that the Peach is totally reliable off-leash as long as her big brother is not free to roam. I’m afraid that Shmoo-Alexander’s roaming days are over now that he’s shown his true  colors and Husky spirit. Even an obedient Miss like Peaches can’t be expected to obey when her beloved brother is out in the fields having fun and chasing voles!

She has, however, developed a very strange habit. It started slowly. When I would go out she would take one of my bedroom slippers and put it on her cushion downstairs. Then, she would take both of my slippers. Soon, she started taking them and putting them up on the couch in my office, which has become “her” place. I began to put my slippers out of her reach after she couldn’t control herself one day and instead of just taking my slippers took a little nibble.

She graduated to JM’s slippers, then to his sports shoes, which she chewed to pieces. So he had to start putting those out of her reach as well. We thought the problem was resolved. But lately, while I am taking my shower, she has started to remove JM’s socks from the bedroom. Now, we don’t have a chest of drawers, he just keeps them on a piece of furniture with shelves, so it’s hard to have them totally hidden away.

At first, I guess she was running a test, because I would come out and find one sock on the floor. Then a couple of socks on the floor. Then I would find one sock in my office, but this morning there were about half-a-dozen of them in my office! Clearly, the OCD is kicking in! I’m sure that it means something to her, because she looks very irritated when I pick them up and put them back.

Border Collies; you’ve gotta love ’em!

Ciao for now and don’t chase too many voles!


The Great Escape; Part 7000

So, on our lunchtime walk, Shmoo’s leash came loose and he took off yet again! It was funny, because he didn’t realize it at first and suddenly he was like the coyote looking down at the canyon under his feet! First he ran down to the river (thanks Bruce Springsteen!) then it was into the farthest field. Miz Peaches of course was in hot pursuit. There was no sense in following, because as soon as we approach, they just take off again because they (HE) do not want to have the fun stopped and come home. There is no answer to this; it is just Shmoo’s nature. He has no recall and will never have one. There is no food, nothing we can offer that is better than running in that field. He always comes back, but in his time on his terms.

Peaches has a great recall when she’s not with him. But when she’s with him it’s like the Warner Bros. cartoon with the little devil on one shoulder and the little angel on the other; the little devil ALWAYS wins. Now, what’s funny is that if we get close enough, they both have a great sit and Shmoo will immediately sit and then we can catch him. We always praise and give him a treat, all the time fighting back that natural urge to scream at him, which would be counter productive, of course.

So glad that they both have Scalibor collars as well as Promeris Duo now, so I think the tick issue is really, really minimized. And, luckily the field was mowed just a few days ago so the hay is bailed and not long like it was last time, so I think we’re safe from Piro this time.

Again, they are trying to kill us…

Ciao for now.


The Evils that Bloom in the Spring

I wanted to write about how beautiful things are here right now. The greens seem greener than ever following all the snow of this winter. The sky is a gorgeous blue (possible aided by volcano ash!) that makes you wish you could keep the color in your heart forever.

But evil lurks in that luxuriant grass.

My Shmoo is a big, powerful, healthy boy who learned all he knows from the BCs in his life (the late Diva Maggie McMiggins and his new girl, Miz Peaches LaRoo). In the almost four years that he’s been a part of our family, the only time he was really ill was when he ate Maggie’s leather collar!

So, on Friday when he wasn’t acting himself, I knew something was wrong. Yesterday it was clear he wasn’t feeling well. He wouldn’t play with Peaches and he turned down his favorite dried chicken treats. Then, last night he felt warm to me and was panting a lot.

This morning I checked the color of his urine and it seemed dark to me, although not brown. But I still thought that there was a good chance that he had picked up canine piroplasmosis (canine babesiosis) so I called our vet who is a good man and will see you at ANY time there is an emergency.

Shmoo definitely had a fever and a blood smear showed that my suspicion was correct; it was definitely the dreaded piro.

I’m lucky I got him to the vet’s in time, as three injections later we were out the door and on the way to recovery. He still needs to take a diuretic for the next five days to protect his kidneys from damage, but the chances are strong that he’ll make a complete recovery.

This proves that not even careful tick protection can keep the little nasties totally at bay. There is a vaccine available. It has had mixed results, but I’m thinking that if I use that and continue the tick protection we’re upping our odds of keeping the dogs from getting this again. I know we can’t wrap them in a cocoon of protection, but sort of wish that I could!

My boy is resting comfortably now, and we are all grateful to modern medicine at the moment.

Ciao for now.


It’s the insurance

That’s really the only reason I can think of that the dogs are trying to kill us.

It has been truly beautiful here today, so we went on our usual late morning walk to the gardens. We get to about the halfway point and unleash the hounds. The two of them just adore racing as fast as they can to the end of the “official” gardens and into the big open field at the end. Then, they start hunting for voles.

When we first got Peaches, she would come running back to wait for JM and me to get there and play frisbee with her. But she has since learned the joys of hole digging and is now as obsessed as big brother Shmoo.

They go way out into the middle of the field for their little excavating project, which we wouldn’t mind if they would come back to us. But they won’t. Peaches, who also had an amazing recall at first, now ignores us as much as Shmoo. Sure, they look up from “the operation” every now and again, but that’s it.

So, we have to go out and get them. Now that the weeds are growing, that is less easy than it was, because not only is the stuff up to our knees, but it hides the previously dug holes, so we have to be extraordinarily careful not to fall and break various body parts.

Still, we are usually able to get to them, give them treats and hook up their leashes so we can finish our walk. Not today though. No, today opened a whole new chapter in the experience.

I waded out to get them and they headed past me at high speed so Shmoo could go into the river. Nothing unusual in that as he loves a little wade before coming home. However, what was different was that instead of us being able to catch them afterward, they took off to an even farther field to boldly go where no dog had gone before.

JM refused to go out there after them, because it was getting pretty far away. He hoped they would realize we were gone and come back on their own. But they were clearly not interested in that, so I headed out to get them.

This other field is not only farther away, but it is twice the size of the usual field. Every time I would get close to them, they would run even farther! I did not find it at all amusing and would have just left them if it wasn’t that they were getting dangerously near to the road. If something had happened to them, I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself, so after them I went.

I was lucky that they clearly found a particularly exciting spot and got so caught up in their destruction that they stayed there and let me catch them. To be honest, I only caught Shmoo, because I knew Peaches would follow along, which he would not do if I dragged only her away.

By the time I got them, I had been chasing after them for at least 20 minutes and I was damned tired of the game. My legs feel like lead from walking in a way I don’t usually walk and I am tired and still a lot irritated. Of course, I can’t take the irritation out on them, because they won’t understand it, so I just have to stay irritated for a while longer.

When I got back to JM we were both not happy. The dogs have now lost their running privileges for the foreseeable future. I feel bad, because they really love to run, but I can’t go through this anxiety again. I can let them loose in a friend’s garden, but that really isn’t the same thing for them because there’s not enough room to really run. But, so be it. If they won’t listen, they can’t be trusted.

Ciao for now,


The Dog-Pig

Remember how, in the movie BABE, Babe was a “pig-dog?”  I’m afraid that Peaches is a “dog-pig!” If it stinks, if it’s gross, if it’s filthy, Peaches will eat it or roll in it. If she were a human girl she would be a tomboy. I have never seen a dog revel in being filthy and disgusting the way she does.

If you look at her and don’t know her, you think, “what a dainty creature;” but she is NOT. When she and Shmoo dig vole-holes she is covered in dirt and mud up to her elbows and her nose is completely covered in dirt. Even her mouth is full of dirt. But she trots home so proud of herself!

British friends are in town at the moment for their Easter holidays. Two days ago I stopped in for a visit, and David limped to the door on a crutch. I asked him what had happened and he told me he’d sliced through his knee while cutting some tile! He was very lucky that it wasn’t worse, but the ER doctor told him to come back today for a visit with the orthopedic specialist to make sure things were healing properly. I said I would drive him.

I thought I would take the dogs out for a walk before the hospital visit, so we took them up to the rail tracks, figuring that was more controlled than letting them run in their vole-field out by the gardens. WRONG! Peaches found a pile of some kind of animal poop and before I could stop her, she’d rolled right in it!

Now, usually when she tries to do that, I’m able to get her pulled up before she actually gets in it. Not today. She was covered in the stuff and I had no time to bathe her before leaving. The best I could do was put some Miracle Groom on a paper towel and clean up the worst of it before we went. We locked off the upper floors of the house so at least she couldn’t go onto the bed or a couch.

Luckily, she is very good about letting me bathe her. She doesn’t like it, but she accepts it. As soon as we got back, into the bath she went. Now I know she’s just waiting for her chance to go out and find something else vile to roll in…

Ciao for now,