French Friday #46: Gone to the dogs

The French love their dogs. Yes they do, you widdle cutey oh wes dey do! Dogs get a  lot of grace in France that they might not get in other places.

First: the poop. Americans are horrified at the idea that French dogs poop on the sidewalk. There are fines for it in most cities, but the fines apply only if you (or, your dog, rather) get caught. What that means is, there is still a lot of poop on the sidewalks. But, y’know? It’s really not that big of a deal. In 3.5 years of living in France, I never once stepped on a little doggy pile. The trick is this: You have to learn to scan the ground about three feet ahead of you as you walk. Not in a head-swiveling, cartoony kind of way. It’s all in the eyes. It is a skill and at first you’ll have some close calls, but with a little practice, you’ll be sauntering along with no problem at all. Then, around 4 a.m., little green men swarm through the Parisian streets and hose everything off so that they’ll be fresh for a new day of pedestrians and their pets.

Statue dogs don’t poop.

Second: The French own more than just poodles. For some reason, Americans have got it in their heads that this is somehow quintessentially French:

Honestly, I can’t remember seeing anyone walking a poodle like this (much less a pink one). I have no idea where that stereotype came from. It’s weird. A lot of French people have smaller dogs just because a lot of French people live in apartments, but I can’t even remember seeing any poodles in that group. When I was in Grenoble, the most popular dog to have was a German shepherd. My friends and I used to wonder jokingly whether that was part of the welfare system since it seemed like every panhandler in the city had a German shepherd (not very sensitive of us, I know).

In our apartment outside of Paris, there was a man who lived on the top floor who had an enormous bear of a dog. I have no idea what breed it was, but it was huge and hairy and probably could have given pony rides to small children. Or heck, probably even me. This man had the annoying habit of taking his gigantic beast of a dog in the elevator. Our elevator was small, fitting two people comfortably, three friends rather closely, and four people in 40 seconds of interminable social awkwardness. It was not made to accommodate people + a large furry animal. The worst was when I had the elevator loaded up with my groceries and the man and his bear dog commandeered it, crammed themselves in on top of my food for the week and took it all down to the first floor. Merci, dude. You’re awesome.

Third: Dogs can go anywhere. Oh yes they can. Well, just about. Storekeepers take their dogs to work. Dogs ride the bus. Dogs can politely lie under their master’s table at a restaurant. Like I said, dogs are given a lot of grace in France, (sometimes more than children). It seemed more natural there, but for some reason, it still bugs me here in the States when I see little dogs riding in grocery store carts.

This dog sells home decor in Rueil. He has made an appearance on this blog before.

Not the most definitive essay on French canines, just a little fun. Have a good Friday, everyone!

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2 thoughts on “French Friday #46: Gone to the dogs

  1. So glad you did this cause I have a story. Earlier this year I was babysitting Sam’s dog Lexie, while I was in Austin visiting friends. I had completely forgotten that taking dogs into stores, especially eating establishments is frowned upon in the US. The first day I had taken her into a coffee shop and all the baristas came out to pet her, so I assumed “sweet, you can take dogs into all sorts of places in Austin.” WRONG. I went into a Whole Foods grocery store, entering through the basement level parking garage into the center of the store. I got about four feet before an employee barked ((excuse the pun)) at me “is that a dog for disabilities?” I sheepishly insisted that I was merely making my way outside, you know via the entire produce department. Thus I was banished to sit outside while my boyfriend and friends bought food. Later my boyfriend said I should have just pretended to be blind. Seeing how (again with the puns) Lexie is a tiny fluffy sheltie, I doubt we could have pulled it off. But then again I did play that blind lady in that one play you had us do. 🙂

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