Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dogs & Cats of Europe

I find it hard to be away from my pets for a long time, though sometimes if I can pat and play with other doggies and kitties, it helps a little. The problem was that in France, the dogs weren't interested in talking to me. Firstly, they didn't understand what I was saying to them! I learned that the French word for dog is 'chiot', or the plural is 'chien'. I found I could get their attention by saying that word, but the problem was I couldn't really speak to their owners without an elaborate pantomime.

I met this dog in the Pyrenees in a town called Bareges. We were in town looking for somewhere to get dinner, and I decided to check out an outdoor store. I had decided I needed a new rucksack, because the kit bag that I bought to carry my clothes around in was showing signs of breaking at an inopportune time (maybe when I was trying to haul it to a tight train connection, along with rolling the massive Samsonite suitcase which contained my Bike Friday). He was hanging around outside the shop, and seemed totally disinterested in me until I called him 'chiot'. Then he came trotting over for some attention. I saw him again the next night, and I called to him. He trotted towards me but then got distracted by another dog which was with it's owner in the nearby park. I never figured out who his owner was, he had a collar but he seemed to just wander freely all over town.

This kitty was the first campsite-kitty that we met. We were hanging out in the common room in Olonne-Sur-Mer, and watching Sarah Connor Chronicles on my tiny netbook. We then heard fireworks (it was the pre-tour-de-france party), so Nic went rushing outside. I saw kitty sitting on a tree stump just outside, so I started talking to him. Unlike the dogs, the cats didn't seem to have a language barrier. I think maybe cats don't recognise as many individual words, and go more by body language than dogs do. Anyway, he came into the common room and had a good smooch. After the fireworks, one of the campsite staff came to lock up the common room, and he told me the kitty did many 'bad things' around the campsite. He couldn't really specify what those bad things were, language barrier again, but regardless of his alleged misdeeds, I thought he was lovely, if a little dirty.

We met this kitty when we stopped for lunch - we had been to the local patisserie and bought lunch, and sat down on a park bench to eat. I spotted this kitty staring us down from it's position on a nearby side street. After I'd finished eating I decided to say hello. It didn't take much before this kitty was purring and carrying on! There was another cat nearby who was sitting underneath a parked car, but it didn't want to chat. It showed a passing interest but when N tried to get near it, it retreated further underneath the car.

We took a wrong turn trying to follow the bike path to Karlsruhe and ended up meeting this kitty. She was strutting along the path, probably on patrol, or on the hunt. She actually acknowledged us as we were riding towards her with a little 'brrrt', so I had to stop for a pat.

This kitty was also in Bareges. We stayed at that campground for 4 or 5 nights, and we only saw this kitty once. It came to investigate our tent and figure out if we were approved to be on it's turf. Turned out to be a friendly kitty, but it went home after it was satisfied we should be permitted to camp on it's land.

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