Vocabulary Roundup + Audio file for all the French terms we learned in January!
Candidature, Applying for a job in France & Jackie's cover letter in French

Soins des animaux: Why can't our dog sit down? Visit to the vet & collerette

bicycle across from Notre Dame and in front of Shakespeare and company bookshop in Paris France
Benjamin Houy, a young Frenchman from Paris, has written some helpful language posts for this blog. His 30-Day French program will teach you everything you need to know to speak French with 30 lessons based on real-life conversations. Try it out.

TODAY'S WORD: le soin

        : care, attention, treatment


Don't miss the soundfile for this text, click here.

Une collerette vétérinaire, cône pour animal ou collier élisabéthain, est un ustensile de soins des animaux. Ce cône tronqué et fixé au cou de l'animal de façon à entourer sa tête, sert à l'empêcher de se mordre, de se lécher, ou encore de se gratter la tête ou le cou, le temps de la cicatrisation d'une plaie. -Wikipedia

A vet coller, an animal cone or an elizabethan coller, is a treatment implement for animals. This truncated cone, attached to the neck of the animal so that it surrounds its head, serves to keep it from biting itself, licking itself, or scratching the head or neck, for the time it takes for a wound to scar.

Improve your spoken French with  Exercises in French Phonetics


"Furry humans and the Collar of Shame"

    by Kristi Espinasse

The other night my heart seized up after I was awakened by a rapping at the front door. Startled, I sat up in bed and listened closely. Was someone shaking the door handle? As I grew conscious I began to recognize the noise and it wasn't a knock - it was sheep bells clanking (my rustic farm alarm! the cloches are attached to the door bolt. I've got sheep bells on my windows, too--lest un cambrioleur try to break through! Never mind the sound of broken glass....).

Oh! It's just one of our kids rolling in after midnight, I thought. Until I remembered the kids were far away...in Montpellier and Aix. My God, someone was trying to break in to our home! I went to elbow Jean-Marc awake when I recognized another sound: my dog's collier -- it makes a certain bruit when he shakes down his furry body, as dogs do throughout the day. So it was good ol' Smokey, after all, just having a bit of a sleepless night.

The next morning after tidying up the kitchen and hanging the laundry out to dry, I finally could turn my attention to writing. I was grumbling about how long it took to get to my writing desk--what with so many other things screaming for attention--when Smokey came into the room, his head held low. Now what!

"OK, Smokey, here's a câlin, but now I've got to get to work! A ta place! " I motioned for our golden retriever to go to his bed, just beside my desk. Only, when he got there he could not sit down....

"Couché! Smokey, Couché là!" I said, but poor Smokey could not settle in. It was as though each time he lowered his backside to the ground, an invisible fire sprang up!

I went over to my dog and helped him lie down. Examining his tail I could see it was enflammé. Did he sit down on some sort of poison ivy? Or, worse, was this the beginning of another méchant growth?

I decided not to wait things out--and got Smokey right to the clinic. A moment later a very pregnant vet and I and Smokey were all on the floor wrestling. One of us shaved the tail, the other gripped the dog, and the patient looked up at the ceiling, his world turned upside down.

I was amazed at how far along our vet was (this pregnant) and yet able to wrestle a 35-kilo dog. And I was impressed by Smokey, who managed to keep it together, despite losing so much hair (when humans go to the doctor, they sweat it; for sensitive dogs, like goldens, they lose their hair during such a nerve-racking visit.

By the end of the examination, the pregnant doctor and I were plastered in golden fur, and we still hadn't uncovered the mystery of what got Smokey. "Clean the area twice a day. Apply this pommade, and give him these comprimés," the vet instructed. The final instructions she gave directly to her patient: "Et si tu n'arrêtes pas de te lêcher, tu vas devoir porter la collerette!"

"Oh no, Smokey, you don't want to wear the cone of shame!" I said. It was, come to think of it,  a curious thing to say, coming from two humans covered from head to toe in clumps of golden fur.

Stories you may have missed...

Did you know about this rule for cheese? (Read this post)

A Tip Jar (Read this post)

Cone of shame
I keep this recovery cone (I have two) in our first-aid cabinet. The new cones (soft, pliable) are much more comfortable and easy to use. Get one for your dog or cat, here.


la cloche = bell
un cambrioleur = burglar
le bruit = noise, sound
le collier = collar
le câlin = hug, cuddle, caress
à ta place = go to your bed
couché! = lie down!
méchant = bad
enflammé = inflamed
35 kilos = 77 pounds
la pommade = cream
se lécher = to lick oneself
le comprimé = tablet

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Oh I do hope that Smokey is Ok - sending love and thoughts and do please let us know he's mended. Regards. Susan.

Judith Cheney

Pauvre Smokey. My dogs over the years have worn these collars to prevent tearing out stitches etc. Several managed to tear out of the collars. They do Not like to wear them. I hope he is all well again soon. And not in pain. I send gentle pats & a nice ear scratch. Judith in Asheville.

Ruth Fuchs Hallett

COLLAR is spelled COLLAR, and not COLLER.
I hope Smokey is better.


Pauvre Smokey - I hope he starts feeling better. One of my dogs has growths that are removed (more often than I wished). He wears the inflatable donut collar, but he's a smart boy and sometimes can get it off.

Best wishes to Smokey and goodness, who cares that you misspelled collar......

Bill in St. Paul

I had forgotten how Goldens shed when they are nervous, like being at the vet's. Dear, long gone Theo would shake and shed when lifted onto the examining table. Thanks for the memory, Kristi.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi,  Bill,  Always good to hear about Theo.  Like,  Breizh,  they are forever in our hearts. 


Gros calins to dear Smokey and "get well soon". Animals and children can be wonderfully brave when the need arises. (Not)talking of which .... I re-read your post where you asked where your wings had gone. I suddenly thought - both Jackie and Max have kind of left home now. When this happened to me - my elder daughter first - I'd been reading about "empty nest syndrome" as it was much in the news. I thought - ridiculous, that won't happen to me. So I was amazed when after she left (for University) I cried every day (all the way driving to work and all the way driving home and more) for 6 weeks and that was just the worst of it. I won't try to understand or explain it, but it is life changing.


Seriously???!! I cannot see anywhere is this story where collar was spelled "coller". And, even if it was, I am just curious why you would feel it necessary to mention it. This isn't a middle school spelling class. It is a nice story about a sweet dog by a loving "dog-mama".
Kristi does just fine, thank you, without needless criticism.

(I love your story Kristin. As I have for so many years. <3 )


I read "French Dirt" several years ago and absolutely loved it. I pick up my copy now and then, and always think that it is one I shall reread. Having a good book for the future (even if a second time around) is a kind of riches. It tickled me, Kristin, to know that you, too, liked it.

And to Smokey, who gets to walk on French dirt every day, I say, get well vite!


Oh Smokey, I hope you will heal quickly. You are in good hands. :)


Our dear Kristi,
Your beautiful words(and picture!Smokey and Morning Glory!) just wrapped us in hugs.It is wonderful to see such a loving,caring bond between your four pawed boy and his Mom.(especially touching after hearing of so many reports of animal neglect).
Always an inspiration,that is you,Kristi!
Hugs and gentle pats to the patient.
(May beloved Aristotle join Breizh and Theo in our hearts forever).
Natalia. Xo

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

Oh, I hope Smokey is better soon!

Karen Cafarella

Hope sweet Smokey is ok and all is back to normal!


Jim Anderson

Yes, "collar" was misspelled. In addition, "couché" doesn't mean "lie down"; it's a past participle.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Yes I wondered about that one. Couchez, couchez là ! Might that be it? I never tried telling a dog to lie down in French. One big dog, Smokey. Good image, the vet, you and Smokey.

Heather in Arles

Oh no, Smokey...I am sending him so much Love and Strength. Will you give him a bisous from me please?

joie in Carmel

Sheep bell on the door. I have a Swiss cow bell from my family on the gate and then smaller ones to ring by the door. Whatever works. Oh, Smokey, you rascal....keep mamma going. So funny, at a time when I was practicing my French I was using in on one of my dogs...German Shorthair Pointers....and I did use the the word couchez and asseyez. When I really wanted to make a point (I had one that did not want to come when called I would say "ici maintenant" with a very firm voice. I had a dog trainer that said you could train them using any language or word for that matter as a command....and that you could change it to another and a smart one would respond the same to both.

Kathleen from Connecticut

Poor Smokey. He has been through a lot for such a sweet fella. Bon chance...Smokey. Feel better soon.
Xoxoxo for Smokey.



Poor Smokey, please do keep us updated on his condition.

Leslie in Oregon

I have experienced this with my Golden Retriever and my Long-Haired Dachshund. Both respond to my commands, whether they are given in English, French or Russian. Somehow, my directives sound more commanding in Russian, so I issue urgent directives that must be followed immediately in that language.

Leslie in Oregon

Get well soon, dear Smokey. We love you! Henry the Golden Retriever and Bob the Long-Haired Dachshund, along with Leslie


Poor Smokey having to wear the collar. But the good news is that he has a family that loves him and takes him to the vet to get the collar and meds he needs. :)

My dogs hated the dreaded collar. I had to put a tiny one on my cat once too. Can you imagine that humiliation ? :)

Get well soon Smokey ! Lots of pets and calins from Grenoble France.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

Hope that Smokey is feeling a lot better now, a couple of days after his visit to the vet. This is when I wish we could talk to our pets, to better understand what is hurting. So often we can see it in their eyes and from there we have to guess!
Please let us all know how he is doing...


Poor buddy boy! We purchased the inflatable collar for our dog and it worked much better post op than the stiff cone of shame.

Patty Cargill

I wonder, too, about people who read a blog and with no other comment about the topic de jour, point out a spelling or grammar mistake. Wierd. Weird. Wired.

Just read the note Gus wrote to you in another post. I remember, I think, that Gus won one of your giveaways, maybe an antique key. I feel similarly that there were times when your FWaD was a much-needed lift to my days. It has been wonderful following along w/famille Espinasse all these years.

I hope Smokey will be well soon, and the waiting for you and J-M will be resolved. Whatever comes, you will have a whole bunch of friends "out there" who care and are with you. Toujours.

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