Oct 3

To Brittany and beyond

Raggy (bigger and softer than the average dog)

After a few weeks spent visiting friends and family we’re back on the house-sitting trail in Brittany. Having only ever lived in cities, rural Brittany is a bit of a culture shock, but in a good way. The old farmhouse that we are living in for the next month has stone walls two feet thick, wood-burning stoves (there’s an outhouse devoted to the chopping and storing of firewood) and original beams throughout. Outside, is an equally beautiful courtyard where our choice of two vehicles (a 1991 Landrover discovery and a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee) are parked and an orchard where the chestnuts are just starting to fall from some of the trees.

Jacob (so named because he’s crackers)

Our canine charges include Raggy, a gorgeously soppy black labrador-newfoundland cross, Leo, a very vocal black labrador, Bracken, a whippet who is often shivering (possibly in terror of being squashed when the others are play fighting) and last but by no means least, Jacob, a “grumpy” beagle-labrador cross. You will notice that there are only three of them pictured, Leo just won’t sit still for long enough. Individually, each has their own inimitable character, together they are an awesome force of mischief and mayhem. We are going to have a huge amount of fun and very likely not a lot of sleep.

As well as the four dogs we have the pleasure of catering for six house cats, Bailey, Sooty, Pussily, Abby, Izzy and Mary. There are also some outdoor cats, the only one of whom we have so far met being Poppy. I must also mention Silver, an adorable lap cat who, sadly suffering with cancer, had to be put down before the owners left us. They were here with us for a few days at the beginning of the stay for “training” purposes and with a menagerie this size, we needed the help.

Bracken (shattered after impressively winning a fight over a stick with Raggy on our walk today)

Since they left yesterday, we’ve been finding our way around the animals as well as the house. My highlight thus far has been the chickens and the geese as I’ve no previously experience of either. Bubbles and Gracie clearly adore each other and apart from a small amount of protective hissing have so far been fairly friendly. The five chickens seem to have a death wish as they refuse to stay in the safety of their enclosure. I just caught one eating from Raggy’s bowl outside, thankfully just before Leo did. They are also hiding their eggs and I’ve made it my mission of the stay to work out where they are laying. This is no mean feat with up to four dogs following at every step, but I’ll get there eventually.

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