Guetter (c) Kristin Espinasse
In Gigondas: watching for intruders... or maybe a new pal or two to play with. Read about another dog in today's story column.

Smart French : learn French from real French people:

guetter (geh-tay) verb
  to watch, to guard
  to watch for, to lie in wait for, to be on the lookout for
  to threaten; to ambush

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As promised, here is the rough-n-tumble translation of "Ma Vie de Chien." The tribute was written by Marie-Françoise Vidal (a.k.a. "Aunt Marie-Françoise"), after her dog, Jaby, made it over "Le Pont de l'Arc-en-ciel".*

                                My Life as a Dog

I domesticated my animal nature : instincts, needs, rhythms, and vital joy -- in order to live in your house.

I listened and learned, ears perked, to your orders and to your intonations. I understood your codes.

I knew how to constrain myself to go gently, so as not to knock over the child, the grandmother and the "petit animal à moustaches."*

From each one of you, I knew how to take or to ask for flattery and play. I loved your company, whether playful or calm.

I was proud of my duty to guard the gate, the front step, and the household, watching for intruders.

And I still had my own secret kingdom out in the garden, or while out on a walk, where I could unleash in nature the original power of my senses.

I entered into this bond with you without fear of submission -- for we gave one another respect.

When next I had to die, it was without knowing sickness or decline. I left dignified and without complaint, all the while understanding your tears.

In our exchanges, I taught you different and specific emotions : that of animalité* : those instinctual codes that you had lost. I offered you another relationship with nature.

For all of this, I am proud, and I know that you will have other dogs so as to continue this partage.*

                                  *     *     *
If you would like to leave a message for Marie-Françoise, in response to her story, you can do so in the comments box below. She would be delighted to hear from you! Also: Read or listen to this story in French (halfway down story column in this post.)


Le Pont de l'Arc-en-ciel = The Rainbow Bridge (fictional place over which animals go after death); le petit animal à moustaches = the little whiskered animal (the cat); l'animalité (f) = animality; le partage (m) = sharing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Gift Ideas~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A French Alphabet Book of 1814. This charming primer on the alphabet captures the essence of everyday life among the French aristocracy in 1814 in a uniquely detailed series of watercolor drawings made as an alphabet book for a young French aristocrat by his uncle.

12 French Alsace & Guignol Costumed Lollipops

Rick Steves Convertible Carry-On: Easily converts from a smart-looking suitcase to a handy backpack

Listen to French... (In music) Tour de Charme by Patricia Kaas

Durance olive oil hand cream

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Christine Dashper

Bonjour Marie-Francoise,

Your tribute to your dog Jaby is truly lovely, thank you for sharing it. We have two much loved cats who keep us grounded and in our places as only cats can!

Merci beaucoup!

All the best
Chris Dashper


Hello Marie-Francoise,
Your tribute to Jaby is wonderful. I have two dogs, one was rescued from a puppy mill. Both help to make our house a home.
Thank you for the tribute.

Linda Meier

Bonjour Marie-Francoise:
Thank you for your beautifully written elegy. For those of us who live with and love our furry family members, losing them at the end of their lives is the most difficult part of sharing their presence. I always send a sympathy card to those who lose their pets and will save your words to send along to those in grief.

Gina Liuzza

Chère Marie-Françoise,

Je vous remercie d'avoir partagé votre hommage à Jaby. Je pleurait quand je l'ai lu la première fois en français, et encore quand je l'ai lu cet'aujourd'hui en anglais... c'est l'histoire d'un grand amour.


Mary Clark

Bonjour Marie-Francoise,
Thank you so much for your masterful and poignant tribute to Jaby. All of us who have been privileged to have been embraced by the animals in our lives are universally touched by the spirit of your words.
Merci beaucoup!


Thank you for your sweet words of rememberance and tribute to all our dearest friend and companion. I see my dog in every word you write. Our lives are less without them.

Thank you.

David Stirling

Hello Kristen,

I have been enjoying your blog (and your book) in preparation for a month in Paris this summer. The words you choose are brilliant, as are the accompanying stories.

I was sad to read about the passing of your petite orpheline, doubly so because the same day I had to say goodbye to my own pet--my black Lab Huckleberry. The poem by Marie-Francoise was lovely; it captures the dual nature of our pets so well. Below is the short tribute I wrote for Huck...

Yesterday I spent one final day with Huck and then took him to the vet to have him put to sleep. It was a beautiful day, filled with sunshine and dog biscuits. We went to Gull Pond at Gordon College, which has been our summer swimming resort when Singing Beach closes to dogs for the season. Huck paddled around in the water tentatively with some support from me, then rested at the water's edge where I took this photo. After a while I toweled him down so he'd be clean and dry for the vet and we relaxed in the grass. However, he decided he wasn't quite done swimming so he marched back down to the water and we did another round in the pond. And so Huck exited the only way that would be appropriate -- wet and muddy.

I couldn't have asked for a better dog than Huck. He was my constant companion for nearly 16 years -- my true alter-ego. His unabashed love of life and his devotion to the joy of Now were a daily lesson to me. I will always be grateful for the time we had together.

Lizzy Dromgoole

Dogs teach us so much, I believe mine make me a better human. Thank you for reminding me not to take my 4 legged children for granted. I shed a tear for your Jaby.


Dear Marie-Francoise,

You words were so beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. You really captured the essence of what it means to have a beloved pet. I'm sure you gave your Jaby a wonderful life.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute.


Dear Marie-Francoise,
Your name appears constantly on Kirsten's blog and i know you're a wonderful person from all she's written about you. Thank you for that and for the letter to Jaby.

Susan Carter

Thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute to your dog. Our animals hold a very special place in the lives of their owners and you have captured their essence so well.


Vous avez bien decrive l'amitie d'un chien
bien aime.


Please tell Marie-F. that I'm finding everything about her poem beau, sensible et éthéré & that I'll be her fan for life!

catharine ewart-touzot

Dear Marie-Francoise...I loved your stories and I have shared them with several of my friends...I have 2 dogs at present and over my lifetime I had lost several dear dog friends and loves...thank you for sharing with us all such a universal love.

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