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Near Disaster

by Lynne Edmonds, 1st March 2008

Mike and Lynne are serious full time house sitting vacationers. Flying between Aussie and Europe, they have seen it all on their busy itinerary of chateau minding and estate tending across the Continent. During one particular assignment in the midi-Pyrenees in France they had a very hairy time trying to keep Millie, a French hound, and Lottie, a Labrador puppy, from meeting dire fates. This is the story of 142 perished poultry, a joyous killing spree, a receipt and a trigger happy gendarme. Walkies!

February 2008 

In one of our house sits in France we missed disaster by a hair’s breadth. We were minding Millie, a French hound, and Lottie, a five-month-old Labrador pup, for Tim and Trish in their French country house in the grounds of a chateau in the midi-Pyrenees. There were no fences and both dogs were allowed to run free. Not long before we arrived, Millie decided to meet up with Marilyn, the dog from the chateau, and go on a midnight spree, killing 146 chickens on a local farmer’s property.Many euros changed hands and Millie was spared the death penalty by the gendarmes. Similarly, Marilyn’s dad Klaus, the owner of the chateau, paid up and saved Marilyn.
 However, the drama did not end there. The day after we arrived (and the day before Tim and Trish flew out to Dubai to visit their daughter, Sarah) a gendarme knocked on the door. Trish was upstairs but with Lynne’s second year Queensland University French and my high school French we understood what he said, “Le chien il mange les poulets” or ‘the dog ate the chickens’.  Millie was standing with us at the door in full view, looking as if chickens wouldn’t melt in her mouth.
 
Unaware of the reparations that had recently been made, the gendarme continued on to tell us that he wanted proof that the farmer had been recompensed otherwise he was taking Millie then and there and she would be shot, “Le chien il morte”. We immediately called Trish down from upstairs. Thank God she had a receipt from the farmer!
  If the gendarme had come after Tim and Trish had departed (on the following day) we would have had no knowledge of the receipt. Neither would we have been able to contact them while they were in transit to Dubai and thus wouldn’t have been able to prevent the gendarme taking Millie. Technically, again this situation would not have been our fault but how would we have told Tim and Trish that Millie had been shot? They would have been devastated and we would have felt responsible as it was our job to keep her safe.
 To add to this run of bad luck, a week after we left, Lottie the Labrador pup went missing for three days. Trish walked miles looking for her but it was a local farmer who brought her home. Poor little Lottie had been hit by a car and had broken her rear leg.It seems that this was her turn to miss disaster by a hair’s breadth!
 Tim and Trish have a large walled back garden, which gives Millie and Lottie plenty of running space. They are both now only allowed out on walks in the grounds of the chateau escorted!

About the author: Lynne Edmonds

Lynne and Mike are a retired professional couple from Australia who have been full time house and pet sitters for 17 months in England, Wales, Spain, Portugal, France and Italy. They have sat some spectacularly beautiful homes and have enjoyed a multitude of pets from dogs and cats to horses, rabbits, chickens and geese and large Brazilian parrots.