There are some days when I learn things about French life and traditions that just make me stop in my tracks.
My friends two villages along, an expat couple called Gary and Annette, have a very old dog called Bob. He is a strange little creature, a purebred Australian Silky who looks every inch his 11 years and then some. His hair is whispy, thin and straggly. He is on heart pills, has rotten teeth and is very tetchy at times but – Gary loves him even if no one else does. Gary “inherited” the dog a few months ago after a neighbour passed away and Bob was apparently found sitting on her grave in the local cemetery. Just about everyone in the village had said “non” to such a commitment but Gary and Annette are suckers for stray animals so they took him in.
Lately he’s been very crotchety at night (Bob the dog that is, not Gary my friend) and keeping the whole house awake, my friends, another dog, three cats and a kitten. A visit to the French vet, Madame A, led to the discovery that all of Bob’s teeth were rotten and giving him pain and he had a testicular lump. Gary, being the caring and loving soul that he is had no hesitation in telling the vet to try to save Bob.
The vet removed Bob’s bits and his teeth. He now has to gum his food but at least when he gets tetchy he will only be able to massage the other animals with his toothless gums.
Now here is the strange bit.
When my friends went to collect Bob, Madame A the vet asked if they wanted the rotten teeth that she had removed from Bob.
They were incredulous, surely Madame A had totally lost the plot. Did she think that the tooth mouse (yes another strange to me custom in France – a mouse not a fairy is your toothy visitor). might come and leave a Euro under the pillow when she collected the rotten canine gnashers.
“Non, merci” they said “Why on earth would we want Bob’s rotten teeth?”
“For the Moles” said Madame A.
“Eh?” said Gary “Why would the moles want Bob’s teeth” thinking Madame A had either been on the Pastis since the early hours of the morning or was revealing a hitherto hidden crazy side to her usually dour character.
“The moles… they don’t like dog’s teeth. Usually everyone wants the dogs teeth to put on the grass in their garden – it keeps the moles away”.
So there you have it. Another one of those strange French facts (see Les Grigris and Superstitions of France for more!).
I wonder if that’s why they call them molars?
Sometimes I feel like I’m getting to grips with life in rural France – other times I realise I will never ever get it… and just occasionally I am not sure that is a bad thing!