Monday, May 21, 2012

French Nounou aka Dogsitter

We went away a few weekends ago to Ireland. You might know that we lived there for five years before we moved to France. You might also know how much we love the little green island and its inhabitants. Ireland was a life changer for us, no question.

So, back we went to visit friends and to tell that part of our story.

The thing was, we had to find a place for the Gurley, aka Clementine, to stay while we were gone. I've never had a dog before. I've never felt what I now am in the throes of, right up to my dog licked face. The love of a good puppy.

When she smells, I don't mind. When she begs to go for a walk in the rain, I don't mind. And when I can get away with it, I sneak her bits of meat and cheese.

The thought of putting her in a kennel made me sad. Not to mention the difficulties I was afraid of having in finding a good place for her with the whole French thing. You remember that, right?

As with most things that I fret over, it worked out better than I'd hoped. I asked a neighbor. Her little shitzu Caramel had just been to the doggie parlor so I figured she'd know a thing or two about high quality dog hotels. I was right.

She emailed me a list of choices. One of which was a nounou. Or dog nanny.

Here in France, there's a program for families so mothers (usually it's us) can go back to work and have an inexpensive, safe and quality place to send their infants and toddlers. These retired ladies (again, it just usually is) are certified to keep children in their homes.

It's subsidized, of course.

Nounous are grannies for hire who feed the kids homemade lunches, take them on errands and to the park, put them down for naps and push their strollers around the village, pacifiers firmly in mouth. The babies', not the nounous'.

Pascale, the magnificent, bubbly, Golden lover does just this, but for dogs.
She's my dog nounou. And I love her.

I called, we talked, she speaks English. Check.
Clementine and I went over for a meet and greet to see if she would fit in with Pascale's Goldie, Champagne and Pascale's mother's Bichon, Biscot.

Clementine sniffed and played with the others while Pascale and I had a coffee. It was agreed that Clementine passed the test and would be more than welcome to spend the weekend, chez Champagne.

On the morning of the drop-off, Pascale was on her way to feed a cat. She's just so lovely!

She was already minding Eliot, another very handsome Golden who was seated proudly in the back of her little car.

Champagne was there too, in the front floorboard trying to get away from the rest of them. He's eleven.
Biscot was also there, as was Lulu, another Bichon who climbed up in the back and perched there, looking out the window.

Clementine got in, said her goodbyes to me and Ma Fille, booted Biscot to the middle, and took her seat.

{Clementine and her buddies}

This tiny car had three full-sized Golden Retrievers, two Bichons (shout out Mitzi!), and Pascale. It was hilarious. But also such a good way to say bon weekend to our Gurley.

She was never really a great fan of the car, sometimes getting sick, usually refusing to clamber on in.

Now? She loves it. Can't get enough. And begs to go with me to pick up the kids from school.

Merci Pascale! You're one fabulous nounou.


  1. Oh of course I LOVED THIS POST!!! And wish that I had thought to write about it too--darn! Heehee. Yep, after previously driving Ben over an hour to stay at his deluxe doggy resort (people send their dogs down on the train from Paris), we found Ben's "true" nounous right here in Arles--a young couple that volunteer for the ASPCA--perfect. He comes back soo happy as he loves their two dogs, them and their garden. But I will seriously keep your nounou in mind if they are not available.
    The more of Clementine, the more I love her...

    1. Heather,
      How super chi,chi! Parisian dogs, mon Dieu!
      The only reason I wrote this post was for the opportunity to share the photo of the dogs in the car. I just thought it was too funny!
      We love our Goldies, don't we? And how could we resist?
      aidan xo

  2. So glad you found a good nounou for the pooch. It is such a headache to find a good place or a good house-sitter when we leave (often for several weeks at at time in the summer.) Around here, "pet hotels" cost a fortune, up to $50-60 a day! Having a person sleep at your house while you are gone can fetch $70 day! Ridiculous. You would think they will clean all the windows, and the fridge on top of picking up your mail and water the houseplants, but they don't. To complicate things further, my dog is older and does not get along with all dogs... Still, I would not mind finding a Pascale here. I suppose I could always "ship" the pooch to her from Seattle? Nah-- Definitely not a good idea. Bonne semaine, Aidan. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. Veronique,
      First, merci for correcting my screwups kindly. I went in and changed all my nou nous to nounous!
      I paid 13 euro a day! And she let her sleep in the bed with her....a happy little habit that is proving delightful to the kids.
      have a wonderful week over there. we're having Seattle weather here, thinking of you.
      aidan xo

  3. How we ♥love♥ our dogs, and what we won't do for them! ♥♥♥

  4. I never understood it, Mem. Now I'm besotted.
    aidan xo

  5. I love this post. I love the picture. I love the comments. Now I have questions. Are pet nounous subsidized? Do you know any cat nounous in the CF area? And will you be re-posting that picture in the future, it is just TOO funny!

  6. We love our dogs. We have a 150 pound all black Newfie that thinks she is a lap dog and it used to be quite the ordeal to find anyone to take her in a kennel or doggie hotel when we traveled. We now get the neighbor boy who loves her to move in with her while we are away.

  7. This post put a giant smile on my face. There's really nothing better than puppy love! Maybe we should try to get this dog nounous business going in the States much better than sticking a dog in the kennel!

  8. That's so cute! We don't have a dog so I never really thought about what the heck I'd do with one when leaving on vacation! Tinki wants a dog so bad she could just up and die (that's what she says anyway). So now, thanks to you, I know what to do if we decide to break down and get her one (cuz I don't want her to up and die, ya know) :)

    1. Ashley,
      I think your choice is clear. I love it!
      aidan xo

  9. I had NO Idea there were dog nounous in France! We've been lucky enough to find a kennel & cattery in our area, but since that combination is hard to find they fill up fast.

  10. omg, how cute is that?!!!?? *love*

  11. What a nice post, I love this story told with humor and wit, as usual.


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