Saturday, December 29, 2007

The mask shop dog

As you can see in the photo below, this little black poodle belongs to the owner of a stand at the Menton Christmas market. She sells masks and jewellry but at the time I took the photograph, she'd not quite finished her display ready for the opening.

Friday, December 28, 2007


A word of advice. If you want a dog that will trot obediently behind you - off lead - then whatever you do, don't get a hound. Hounds are born to hunt. Their sense of smell and their need to follow a scent is all-consuming.

One of the many joys of owning Milou, an American cocker spaniel - and the dog of my life - is that once we were away from a main road, he could be let off his lead - he'd explore but he never went far - always keeping an eye out for me. He'd wander about Gorbio village whilst I had a coffee in the bar and he loved walking in the hills above the village, amongst the olive trees and the wild thyme - especially when his best buddy, Candy, was visiting from America. My Milou went to doggy heaven a couple of years ago and I miss him still.

When I adopted Beau from the refuge in April 2006, the furthest thing from my mind was the word 'walkies.' I just got sucked into the look in his eyes and how needy he was. And he was. Once home and following three weeks on antibiotics, he had to have both eardrums removed - 4 and half hours on the operating table. It took a year for him to get reasonably healthy but still - every four months - he got massive abcesses below each ear. Things are better now and since July, he's not had another abscess and that's because they've never quite healed - each day both sides drain just a little. The vet suggests this is a good thing and I agree. It's a simple matter to wash the areas each morning - far better than painful abscesses for the poor dog.

So when it came to walking - and I did take Beau on several walks soon after the swelling had gone down and the stiches were removed - what did he do? As soon as I let him off lead, his long big beautiful nose went down and off he dashed into the undergrowth. Beau is a Bruno de Jura which is a Swiss hunting dog - bred to hunt, bred to follow a scent. Fortunately I was with a friend when he ran off and we managed, between us, to get him back. Since then I tried a couple of walks with him on an extension lead which wasn't much fun cos he'd dive into the undergrowth and the lead would get twisted around twigs and rocks and he'd need to be rescued. Now he walks on a normal lead, albeit quite a long one, with me getting dragged into the woodland everytime he wants to 'follow his nose.'

And then suddenly things changed. Some of you know I have several photo blogs. One of them is Menton Daily Photo and I decided to photograph the Promenade le Corbusier which goes from the point of Cap Martin all the way to Monaco - a walk and takes about 2 and a half hour each way. It has to be one of the most gloriously beautiful walks in the world and you can take the walk with Beau and me on Menton Daily Photo in January. It occurred me to me that perhaps Beau wouldn't run away on this walk because in the first place, it's right by the sea, so hopefully no wild boars about, and secondly, it's fenced on the inland side of the walk - ie all the beautiful houses and gardens protect their wildly expensive properties with wrought iron railings. So off we went. Beau had a breakthrough - and so did I.

We parked by the sea, and I walked Beau, on lead, to the beginning of the 'walk.' There were several other dogs running about and I knew I had to let Beau off as dogs feel vulnerable when meeting new dogs if they are on a lead and the other dogs are running free. He stopped dead, allowed the other dogs to sniff him and then I called him to follow. Beau, whilst he has no eardrums can - amazingly - hear a little. The vet explained there is some mechanism left to allow him to do this. Certainly when the other dogs at Pension Milou bark, he pricks up his ears and follows them - barking along with them. So he followed me for a bit. Great. We continued the walk and soon he was ahead of me, but every so often, he stopped, turned and looked around for me. A miracle. As soon as he saw me, he'd continue. Sometimes he'd take off down one of the little tracks to the rocks and the sea, then he'd stop and look for me again. One time, it was the other way around - I was ahead of him, went around a bend - later I looked back - no Beau. I ran back. No Beau. Ran further. No Beau. I asked people if they'd seen a large black dog with very long ears and they pointed down a track. There he was, on the rocks just waiting and when he saw me, he bounded over - so joyful. And then I knew. Miraculously I have a dog who wants to be with me. He's become 'my' dog. Now I know we can go for walks together - I can trust him off lead so long as there's no traffic and he can trust me to look after him.

I'm looking at him now. He's sitting in MY chair. Yes, I lost my chair soon after he got here. He doesn't move his majestic head but I know, if I were to walk past him, his eyes would follow me around the room. This dog loves me. I look at this beautiful dog and remember that poor old dog I first saw in the refuge. Beau is about ten years of age. I remember how he staggered out to greet one of the volunteers, then slunk back to his corner of a filthy carvan where he lived because he was so sick, the sides of his head massively swollen with infection. The filthy caravan I might tell you was considerably better than the kennels the other dogs had, which were only airline crates giving no protection from the cold and rain. I didn't want to take him. At the time I had two other rescue dogs and they were a handful. I hesitated - twice. Imagine if I'd left him there?

If ever you are given the choice between buying a puppy or giving a home to a refuge dog, don't hesitate, please give an unwanted dog a home. You'll never know the joy you will get when you nurture a dog to full health and then watch him grow into his potential. And then there's the love you get back - and sometimes it's overwhelming - but I'm not complaining. I was told Beau had had four homes before being put in the refuge and he'd been in the refuge a long time. I really don't know if this is true or not but I can't imagine anyone giving up this beautiful dog. Anyway - it's all worked out beautifully. We suit each other, my dog and me.

I must go - from the terrace I see the sun shining over the sea - and Beau wants a walk. So do I.

This is a watercolour of Beau by British artist, Katie Lancaster. Katie is based in the South of France and creates contemporary dog portraits from photographs. Each drawing is an original piece of artwork, drawn with sensitivity and focused attention to detail. Katie also designed the Pension Milou website. To see more of Katie's beautiful dog portraits (in water colours or pastels) please click on Pet Portraits | Katie Lancaster.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Gilda, who is 18 months old, lives in Italy - near Lake Maggiore to be exact but her owners have a holiday apartment in Menton. I met them in the Jardin Bioves when I was photographing the Christmas displays in the rain. Sorry she's not central in this photograph. You try clicking a camera and holding an umbrella at the time! In the photograph below you see her proud owner - Gilda meanwhile is struggling to look at the sheep who are in a pen just alongside. It was so nice to talking to this nice gentleman and his wife, so proud are they of their lovely little dog.

Happy Christmas to everyone and thank you so much for comments on Riviera Dogs. From the dogs and me - woof woof!

'You give a dog food, warmth, shelter and walkies, and in return they give you their heart.' - Jo Winter

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Aldo's silver tie

This is Aldo, the Menton Christmas Fair dog you saw the day before yesterday. I didn't know his name then but this morning, there he was again - this time in the rain. And look at his smart silver tie. His owner posed him for me. Quite the dapper little dog. Happy Christmas, Aldo!

'...a dog...never makes it his business to inquire whether you are in the right. You are his pal. That is enough for him.' Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Give a dog a bone...

This Brittany spaniel wasn't really interested in looking at the camera. He wanted to concentrate on whoever or whatever is inside the door below. It's the kitchen entrance of a restaurant in Menton and presumably his owner is working inside.

'A good dog deserves a good bone.' American Proverb

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Christmas market dog

This gorgeous little dog sits outside the shop you see below. The shop is part of Menton's Christmas market that runs from the sea to the market area. It opens every day at 10 a.m. and every day this dog sits there. When I took the photograph above no one was in the shop but it seems our hero is resigned to the several weeks he must sit here each year.

'For fidelity, devotion, love, many a two-legged animal is below the dog...' Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

Thursday, December 20, 2007


The Cane Corso is an Italian Mastiff and massive he is too. This boy was standing just in front of the market building in Menton. You can read about the Cano Corso Italiano by clicking on the link.

'The best part about owning a dog is the way he doesn't care about bad hair days or overdue bills.' Author Unknown.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Avoiding the paragliders

This lovely golden is taking a walk, with his stick, on the Plage du Golfe Bleu at Roquebrune-cap-Martin. This is the beach where the paragliders land after their flight from Mont Agel, way up up up in the mountains. You'll see in the third photograph the dog's owner is gently holding him as a paraglider lands so he is not scared. I'd imagine any dog would be terrified if a man suddenly arrived out of the sky. Click here to see the paragliders and click here to see the landing.

'You know you're a dog lover when you think the paw prints on the hall floor make an interesting mural.' - Mae Somers

Monday, December 17, 2007

Church walk

Really I'm not sure what breed this is. He looks a bit like a Pyrenean Mountain Dog but the tail carriage is wrong and so is the gait. Colour appears wrong for a Maremma sheepdog - could be an Anatolian Shepherd dog? If anyone knows, I'll happily delete these worlds and list him under his rightful breed.

He was having an early morning trot in Fontvieille, which is the area of Monaco reclaimed from the sea. Here he is walking past St. Nicholas church. Click on the link to see this relatively new church in Monaco.

'This honest sheep-dog's countenance I read:
With him can talk; nor blush to waste a word
On creatures less intelligent and shrewd.

William Wordsorth (1770-1850), from "The Pastor"

Friday, December 14, 2007


This bundle of energy lives in Belgium. His owner explained that his daughter lives in Roquebrune village - this photo was taken on the way to the 1000 year old olive tree. I'm not quite sure why he is wearing a coat as the sun was shining - perhaps because there was a little bit of wind.

'The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish his dog.'
George Graham Vest (1830-1904. from "Eulogy on the Dog."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


There are cross breeds and cross breeds but how cute is this! Only two months old and much travelled already. This little bundle of cuteness lives in Majorca, Spain but is here on holiday with his young owners, and visiting the medieval village of Roquebrune. These photographs were taken fairly near to the entrance to the Xth century Chateau.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


This little angel was being carried around the Christmas fair in Menton. Her owner happily posed her for me, with the rest of the family calling to her to get her attention for the camera. She's a baby, of course - 11 months old and heaven in a little bundle.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Peggy and Dotty

Peggy is just twelve weeks and Dotty, of course, is older. I don't normally publish photographs of dogs I look after in my home but couldn't resist this. And anyway they are indeed Riviera Dogs. These two live in Monte Carlo but you see them here on my step. Pugs often sit in the position that Dotty is in. Too funny. Do you like pugs?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Milly and Biba

I bumped into these two labs in the walking street of Menton. Milly, at the back is 11 and Biba, at the front is 2. They live near to Cuneo (not so far from Turin) in Italy. As you can see, they like to flop down when their owners are in conversation.