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My French Life – Frank Bruno Makes An Entrance

I’ve told you about Churchill the German Pinscher, Ella Fitzerald the Spaniel who became a German Shepherd, Winston the stray kitten who was attacked by his mum and ‘Enry Cooper the stray kitten that turned up on the door step and wouldn’t leave!

It went all quiet after that – for about a year.

One November we managed to bribe/blackmail/persuade the other half’s Mother and her lovely husband to babysit the animals while we took a short break. When we came back, we drove into our road and there was an enormous black dog at the side of the road in the gateway where the neighbours who threw mice out of the window used to live. We didn’t take much notice other than to think “that’s a big dog”.

The big black dog was there day after day – just sitting at the gate in all weathers. That November in northern France  it was cold, wet and it snowed. After ten days of seeing the dog there night and day with no shelter and no visible signs of being fed or watered, the other half could stand it no longer and knocked on the neighbours’ door and asked if it was their dog.   “Non” came the emphatic answer. The dog, our neighbour said, had just turned up two weeks ago and wouldn’t go. They were terrified of it and thought it might have rabies.

The other half who fancies himself as a bit of a dog whisperer went to look at the dog.  It was late, dark and sleet was falling. We shone a torch in the corner where the dog was – he snarled and snapped and made some awful noises. “Perhaps he has got rabies” I said. The other half snorted and said the animal was just terrified and starving and decided then and there to take him home.

We didn’t want to bring him into the house as we had no idea of his temperament or condition so we rigged up a shelter in the front garden, fed and watered him, gave him a bed with a blanket and left him to calm down. He slept on and off for two days, ate like a horse and was very quiet.

On the third day when I went out to feed him, he came bounding over to the gate wagging his tail. We took him to the vet to see if he had a chip or a tattoo somewhere we’d missed, we put a sign in the Town Hall trying to find an owner; we called local animal refuges – nothing. The vet said he was just 6 months old and his breed was very wilful and it was highly like that someone had just thrown him out of a car far from home.  He warned us if we kept the dog we would need to be strong with him, the dog would want to be in charge and he would be headstrong.

We called him Frank Bruno – Bruno for short, after another of the other half’s favourite boxers and he has been with us ever since.  He just keeps growing, is obsessed with food, is very stubborn and sometimes defiant,we have to be very firm with him – but he’s a lovely dog. When we got him he’d  been living on food he’d got from dustbins and was in a terrible condition. Two walks a day and lots of play time have turned him into a lean mean machine and he is utterly besotted with Ella Fitzgerald, he follows her everywhere with a love struck gaze! He also loves the cats – especially ‘Enry Cooper, he licks him clean every night!

That we said, was definitely enough, no more animals, and we really meant it that time – who were we kidding?!

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