25 June 2009


( Click on the picture to see it enlarged.)
When we returned home in late August 2007 we were thrilled that we had achieved one of our dreams. We had bought a holiday home in the Loire Valley.
My mum always used to say that pride comes before a fall and our absolute joy was short lived.

Dusty when we first got her.

Her grandfather was a Crufts Grand Champion called Tommy Gun

When I collected our beloved standard poodle, Dusty, from the kennels, it was obvious that all was not well. She was in poor shape and was walking awkwardly. The kennels just handed her over without comment and I was upset and annoyed that they had not noticed there was something wrong with her.

She was a very gentle and affectionate dog

Dusty was our third rescued standard poodle. We got her from a couple in Norfolk via the Standard Poodle Club , an excellent organisation that finds new homes for dogs that are given up for adoption. If you want a rescued poodle, your name goes on a list and when it comes to the top you are offered the dog who has also come to the top of a list. Usually you will meet and collect your dog from the owner.

She was nervous of all men and Nick had to work very hard to gain her trust.

When we were offered Dusty in 2002 we went to see her and it was clear that she had been abused. She was three years old and she was not wagging her tail, which seemed to be paralyzed. The lady of the house blamed it on a grooming accident but we didn't believe a word. From the way Dusty reacted to the man of the house it was obvious he had hit her, probably fairly recently and with his walking stick

She was good at making friends.

We went back to fetch her from Norfolk and by then her tail was wagging normally and she was a beautiful and delightful dog to own. Over the years she would occasionally have a droopy tail and would seem under the weather. We now know it was due to back trouble caused by a hefty blow.

Dusty with friends in our petit jardin in Le Grand Pressigny

A day or two after we collected her from the kennels in August 2007, the vet x-rayed her and confirmed damage to her spine, possibly flaring up due to two weeks of relative inactivity. She never lifted or wagged her tail again and would frequently collapse as her back and legs gave way. We bought a ramp to enable her to get into the car as she could no longer jump. She had always loved running and jumping just for the sheer joy of it - there's nothing so uplifting as the sight of a standard poodle in full flight.

Dusty at the château

In May 2008 we took her to Le Grand Pressigny for a holiday. She was quite a celebrity as there are very few standard poodles in France - only zillions of the little ones. We have only ever seen one in the south of France and the vet in Preuilly said he had never seen one before.

She travelled really well and we had a lovely time with her. Sadly, her condition took a turn for the worse not long after we came home and two weeks later we had to have her put to sleep. Her bowels had stopped working due to the nerve damage in her spine.

Enjoying one of her favourite treats

She was only nine years old and it was heartbreaking to see the early demise of an otherwise perfectly healthy and beautiful dog just because someone had ill-treated her when she was young. Such is the story of many a rescued dog, I suppose. She had enriched our lives for 6 wonderful years.

We decided we could not cope with another rescue and so last September we got a puppy.

Lulu started her life in a gloomy stable. I think she's the one on the far right !

Just look at the size of those feet!

There will be another intermission. Normal service will be resumed in a couple of weeks.

There will be a few photos to keep you going until we come back.


  1. Thanks for your blog, I found it on a snowy Midwestern day. We lost our 13 year old Standard last year and were down to one dog, a 6yo Standard who is well behaved and a great companion. So I got Lilly, a white Standard puppy who is now 9 months old. She chews shoes, darts away when called, and is a dances to her own drum. But the dogs are a joy and life is too short to be without them. Lulu is lovely, I love life with Lulu.