Dog fostering in France for beginner(s)

I never really liked dogs. When I was a much younger person I had a contretemps with a GSD that did not go my way, and most of my family are also not ‘doggy people’. 6 years ago however, I met a dog that changed my mind, and when he left us, the first thing we did was get a puppy. They say 2 dogs are just as easy as 1 dog, and to assuage our (slight) guilt at getting a rather fabulous posh hound, we added a rescue sheepdog cross in to the household. So within a short space of time I had gone from “I don’t like dogs” to “Yes we have 2 dogs and they are fab”.

Since moving to France, and especially since adopting the small sheepdog, we have got to know (mostly on line and a little in person) the wonderful ladies that help out at the SPA in Carcassonne. Sheepdog came from there, and on the couple of occasions we have taken her back for a visit, she’s been really stressed. Not the best place for a dog but a whole ocean better than some situations these dogs can find themselves in.

As we seem to be having a really, really hot Summer, my better half suggested that 3 dogs are just as easy as 2 and shouldn’t we assuage a bit more guilt by putting a roof over the head of a rescue dog, and giving them a bit of the family life experience. Being an old softie, I said yes. The BH had already selected a deserving case in the form of Trudie, a 9 year old (more on that in a sec) scent hound, that had been found wandering and ended up at the SPA. For those who wish to look up her main breed she is a Bruno de Jura, about the size of a bloodhound, but more of a beagle face. With a bit of French paperwork and other administrative shenanigans, 10 days later Trudie was all ready to come home with us. A friend and dog trainer (also a fosterer) very kindly arranged a meeting of dogs in neutral territory, and we were off… A 3 dog household.

Trudie seemed affectionate, calm and mature when we got her home and we started to get to know her character. 6 weeks later, she can still be that calm affectionate companion. She has settled in to our routine so calmly and contentedly that we’ve been amazed. And there is a bit more to her than the mild mannered Bruno de Jura we first saw …

She doesn’t bark - she hoots! An oddly endearing sound, and being woken up on the dot of 7am every morning with a hoot makes us both smile every day!

She is a natural swimmer, whether you want her to be or not. Both the BH and I have turned our back for less than a second, and while walking alongside the Canal du Midi have heard a splash, with Trudie off in the water (in places where it’s a couple of feet high to jump in) having a great time, only to be hauled back to shore on the 8m lead.

She has a better nose than our own hound, which she showed us in no uncertain terms on this morning’s walk. A rabbit was spotted in the distance, but not by Trudie. A few yards later we crossed the bunny’s trail, the hooter twitched and the scent was followed. Then came the hunting call. Nose in the air, trumpeting to the rest of the pack that she had the scent of something interesting and everyone should follow (for 8m at least).

Trudie also has good maternal instincts (she does look like a dog that has been mummy to a number of litters - possibly one of the reasons her age was guessed at 9). When a crying baby came on to the TV, she got distressed, went over to the speaker and gently pawed it to comfort it.

On the not so good side, she’s also drunk two of my morning mugs of coffee, and had a bowl of Red Fruit Special K for her breakfast. Even worse was that I’m so slow in the mornings, I forgot to change my mug for the replacement coffee…

As we have got to know more of her character, we get more convinced that she is more like 6yo than 9yo. The rough play with our dogs, the state of her teeth (pretty good) and the energy she puts in to sniffing and exploring simply do not seem to be the traits of an old dog. Her colouring could (in my view) be a little golden retriever or yellow lab in the DNA somewhere in the past, and watching her ‘lollop’ (8m at a time) is simply lovely - in the 2 months she was at the SPA she did not get a decent walk (which makes me think of Biker, a gorgeous hound going slowly mad in his kennel), so even a short lead is just bliss!

All these endearing, affectionate traits mean that as the last few weeks have passed, we’ve assigned her several names. First Trudie became Troodle, then Noodle (which does suit her!). Dora the Explorer (also very good), Lollop, Hoots and Hooter have been thrown about, along with several others that didn’t stick in the mind.

Of all the 3 dogs, the artisan currently working on our house has the biggest soft spot for our foster charge, not our own two young scoundrels. “Trudie” is just a lovely lovely hound.

So how does that grab you? An easy going, funny, affectionate hound that could be a fantastic family member, and a gentle and rewarding companion for the next several years.

She’s just waiting for her real name and a proper loving home…

Please contact me or the SPA ( if you can help

I could not imagine life without a dog or 2 we came to France with 4 Old English Sheepdogs, having worked with the OES rescue over the last 30+ years this year 2015 we have lost 2 one aged 8 to leukemia and heart problems the other our old girl who was deaf from birth rescued at 12 months old after 4 owners had kicked her from pillar to post for disobedience not realising she was deaf she was just 2 months short of her 13 birthday will i be getting more rescue you bet your life on it

I have a milk bottle drying out right now. He's a stubborn oaf so I hope he figures it out before the novelty wears off.

Valerie, the bottle noise and a sharp UH! will do it, then all that's needed is the UH.

The bottle surprise wears off quite quickly, so don't over do it!

I love the plastic bottle idea! Hugo is a complete counter surfer - I find cat bowls up on the bed, packaging he's taken out of the recycling bag, all sorts of nonsense. I'm going to try that because he has extremely selective hearing when it comes to "No!". Thank you Celia.

My Sheba was a food stealer too, which was the main reason we'd sadly decided she'd have to go back to RSPCA having lost several dinners in the making to her mouth.

Luckily we thought to get a trainer in as we were her 3rd adopters and she was only 9 months old and totally untrained. The trainer trained us, not the dog, and for the stealing a simple trick of a small plastic bottle half full of coins thrown onto the floor by her as she was caught in the act did the job. Twice was enough, i never had to do it again. She never even eats the cats' food which is within easy reach, even if we're out for the day.

She's an old lady now, and just as wonderful as the day she arrived. Try the plastic bottle? Don't throw it at her, just down on the ground behind her.

It seems a lifetime ago now but Miles is right, Celia. From what I remember it was literally a crumpled, photocopied piece of paper that contained basically my contact details and "Yes I agree to be lovely to the dog". I didn't know about contributions towards food but then I never asked - we already had three dogs so it was just a case of putting out a bit extra, but we did get a dog bed and a leash along with his paperwork. Then it was just a case of helping Pomme into the car (he was 12 I think at the time, completely deaf and had cataracts), take him home and, at the time, think how to ensure they all 'played nice' with an old man in the house. Hugo, who was still a puppy then, despite his size, immediately adopted him. I think he knew Pomme had some disabilities. This is how a "pitbull" as he's labelled (he's not, he's a hunting dog) takes care of an old spaniel.

We had him for over a year, until last summer when age got the better of him. He's now in the garden which he loved, just jogging around on the grass or laying in the sun. He was a gentle soul. Loved him. As did Hugo.

Thank you all for your lovely comments!

Fostering involves a small amount of paperwork but vets and food is provided by the SPA. We decided at the start that Troodles would always be on the lead with us are and glad we did. She has that head down, nothing else matters attitude when she gets a scent.

Alas she will not be staying with us as having her with us makes a number of things complicated in our lives. Like sleep...

Troodles is currently in the doghouse. Annette makes very good sticky toffee pudding, excellent with an afternoon cup of tea. Let us simply say that my cup of tea remained unaccompanied yesterday...

Loved your story. I've just become a dog-walker at the SPA in Bergerac. We have a devoted group of people walking the dogs Mondays to Fridays .... every little bit helps albeit it only 15mins per dog a few times a week.

Hi Miles, Like you I wasn't a natural dog lover, more nervous of them than anything.

Until I suddenly had to have a dog and discovered later that I was pregnant. We're on our third rescue dog now, and I can't imagine life without a nose at the door and someone to greet you when you come home.

What is involved with fostering? Do you have to pay for the dog, are they funded (vet costs etc)?

Although we aren't fenced, being in the countryside with fields around us, our dog and 7 cats tend to remain within the boundary. I'm thinking of taking on an older, cat-loving dog, perhaps a 3 legged or other disabled type. Blind wouldn't work, OH is constantly moving the furniture around. Just concerned about what is involved in fostering?

I have liked this but if they had a button to love it, that's the one I would have pressed !! We're a little bursting at the seams with our 5 mutts, but hope the lovely Trudie finds a home soon :)

We took in a third dog as a ‘foster’ this summer. Needless to say the ex-chasse hound has worked his way into our hearts and is now officially an adoptee. Sounds like yours may be too!

What a writer you are, Miles - that had me laughing out loud at the mugs of coffee and bowls of Special K. Beautifully written indeed. I can't help personally with Trudie / Hooter / Dora the Explorer as I have three hooligans, one of which behaves like a rebellious teenager, but I have fostered for the SPA in Limoges before, especially the "oldies" who no-one is interested in but all they want is a warm bed and to feel safe. It sounds peculiar that I should be happy you were so overwhelmed with feelings of guilt that of course you had to have three. Three is a very sensible number. Ask my pack. I applaud you for your post - brilliant.