Engagement is a "faux ami" + Welcoming a Pet into the Family & Responsibility
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
"Adopt Don't Shop"... is that even debatable? And yet the decision between adopting from a shelter or choosing a puppy from a breeder isn't always straightforward. Read Jean-Marc's essay about our current dog dilemma, and we welcome your thoughts and experiences in the comments. (Picture taken at one of the animal rescue centers we visited this month).
Today's word is a faux-ami or false cognate (or "false friend"): it resembles an English word but it has a different meaning:
"Engagement" in French refers to a commitment, promise, or involvement in a specific task, cause, or relationship. It is often used in contexts such as engagements in relationships, job contracts, or social and political commitments.
However, in English, the word "engagement" primarily refers to a period of time when two people have agreed to marry, or it can also mean involvement or participation in an activity or event. While there is some overlap in meaning between the French and English usage, the primary emphasis and connotation of the word differ. (https://chat.openai.com)
L'engagement de bien prendre soin d'un chien est essentiel lorsqu'on l'accueille dans sa famille. (The commitment to take good care of a dog is essential when welcoming them into one's family.)
Autumn Excursion in France: "Women in Burgundy" - An adventure designed especially for "Wander-ful Women!" September 20 to 30, 2023 - Includes seven nights in Burgundy and three nights in Paris. Click HERE for details.
A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT ADOPTING A DOG...
by Jean-Marc (English translation by chat.openai.com)
In 2006, we went on our summer vacation to the island of Groix in Brittany. During our stay, especially during our walks, we encountered many dogs, which delighted our family. Maxime and Jackie were 11 and 9 years old at the time, and I thought it was the right moment to welcome such an animal into our home. Our house had a large fenced garden and was located in a neighborhood with many walking paths. I believed that this provided a guarantee of comfort and important integration for the future member of our household, as well as for us.
After inquiring with veterinarians around Draguignan, we learned about a litter of Golden Retrievers. Through this channel, we met and chose Breizh (a name in Breton language that means "Brittany") when she was just a few months old in an animal shelter in Luc-en-Provence. Everything went really well with our little dog, and the children took great care of her. It was pure happiness for our extended family. Later on, she had a litter of puppies, and that's when we decided to keep her son, Smokey... and that's when the troubles began. I won't dwell too much on this because it's not the purpose of my text, but as the children naturally paid more attention to their friends than to the dogs, Breizh and Smokey, among their mischiefs, regularly ran away, causing us a lot of worries. It was then that we realized the immense responsibility of having a dog in the family.
Now, as we find ourselves without a furry companion and after mourning the loss of Smokey last July, the temptation is strong to consider welcoming another one. Kristi and I recently visited two dog shelters. The overall feeling that comes to mind is that these animals suffer a double injustice. After being abandoned and often mistreated, they live confined in small cages, despite the kind-hearted volunteers who come to walk them. Adopting them is indeed a true act of love, but is it always the right solution? Because an adult dog from a shelter carries a heavy past that needs to be overcome. It is possible that they may never fully recover from their trauma, and I humbly admit that if it brings us additional troubles, I prefer not to take that risk. According to me, having a dog should be a pleasure for its owner, and it is this joy that will make the animal happy. In the opposite case, it becomes a suffering for both, which is why it is crucial to think carefully before making such a decision. Too often, without proper consideration, families are enticed by a puppy or even an adult dog from a shelter, but if the general conditions of care are not met, the animal unfortunately ends up alone and confined again. At best, if the family brings them back to the shelter, and at worst, they are abandoned on a highway rest area, as often happens at the beginning of summer vacations.
To be honest with you, I think Kristi and I are a bit lost about whether it's the right time for us to have a dog again, and if so, whether we should adopt from a shelter or go to a breeder to choose a puppy. In the end, we're leaving things up to chance, with the idea that it's more up to the future dog to come to us, and if it happens, we'll know it's the right one.
En 2006, nous sommes allés passer nos vacances d'été sur l'île de Groix en Bretagne. Pendant notre séjour et particulièrement au cours de nos balades, nous avons croisé de nombreux chiens, ce qui a plu à notre famille. Maxime et Jackie avaient 11 et 9 ans à l'époque et je me suis dit que c'était le bon moment d'accueillir un tel animal chez nous. Notre maison avait un grand jardin clôturé et se situait dans un quartier avec de nombreux chemins de balades. Je me suis dit que cela constituait un gage de confort et d'intégration important pour le futur membre de notre foyer, comme pour nous d'ailleurs.
Renseignements pris auprès des vétérinaires autour de Draguignan, nous avons eu vent d'une portée de Golden Retriever. C'est par ce biais que nous avons rencontré et choisi Breizh (nom en langage Breton pour désigner la Bretagne) lorsqu'elle avait juste quelques mois dans un refuge au Luc en Provence. Tout s'est vraiment bien passé avec notre petite chienne, les enfants s'en occupaient très bien et ce n'était que du bonheur pour notre famille agrandie. Par la suite, elle a eu une portée de chiots et c'est à ce moment que que nous avons décidé de garder son fils Smokey... et que les soucis ont démarré. Je ne veux pas trop m'attarder sur cela car ce n'est pas le propos de mon texte mais, alors que les enfants pensaient naturellement plus à leurs amis qu'aux chiens, que Breizh et Smokey, parmi leurs bêtises, fuguaient régulièrement (nous provoquant beaucoup de soucis)... on se rend alors compte de l'immense responsabilité qu'est d'avoir un chien dans sa famille.
A l'heure où nous nous retrouvons sans toutou et après avoir fait le deuil de Smokey en Juillet dernier, la tentation maintenant est grande de penser à nouveau d'en accueillir un. Kristi et moi avons récemment visité deux refuges pour chien. Le sentiment général qui me vient à l'esprit est que ces animaux subissent une double injustice car après avoir été abandonnés et souvent mal traités, ils vivent enfermés dans une petite cage, ce malgré les bonnes âmes bénévoles qui viennent les promener. Les adopter est donc un vrai acte d'amour mais est-ce toujours la bonne solution? Car un chien adulte issu d'un refuge a son lourd passé qu'il va falloir évacuer. Il se peut d'ailleurs qu'il ne remette pas de son traumatisme et j'avoue humblement penser que si cela doit nous apporter des soucis supplémentaires, je préfère ne pas prendre ce risque. Avoir un chien doit, selon moi, être un plaisir pour son maître et c'est cette joie qui rendra l'animal heureux. Dans le cas inverse, c'est une souffrance pour les deux et c'est pour cela qu'il est très important de bien réfléchir avant de prendre une telle décision. Trop souvent et sans avoir bien considéré la chose, des familles se font séduire par un chiot ou même un chien adulte de refuge mais les conditions générales d'accueil n'étant pas réunies, l'animal va malheureusement se retrouver à nouveau seul et enfermé, au mieux si sa famille le ramène au refuge et au pire si il a été abandonné sur une aire d'autoroute comme souvent cela se passe au début des vacances d'été.
Jean-Marc, our kids, and Smokey years ago in Collioure.
Click here to listen to the French and English terms below
1. Engagement - (m) - Commitment
2. Île - (f) - Island
3. Vacances - (f/pl) - Vacation/holidays
4. Été - (m) - Summer
5. Balades - (f/pl) - Walks/strolls
6. Chien - (m) - Dog
7. Maison - (f) - House
8. Jardin - (m) - Garden
9. Clôturé(e) - (adj) - Fenced
10. Confort - (m) - Comfort
11. Vétérinaires - (m/pl) - Veterinarians
12. Portée - (f) - Litter
13. Golden Retriever - (m) - Golden Retriever
14. Breizh - (f) - Name (in Breton) for Brittany
15. Mois - (m) - Months
16. Chiot - (m) - Puppy
17. Soucis - (m/pl) - Troubles/worries
18. Malades - (m/pl) - Sick
19. Responsabilité - (f) - Responsibility
20. Refuges - (m/pl) - Shelters
21. Adoption - (f) - Adoption
Do you know about France's rule for naming purebred dogs? Learn about the initial-based convention for dog registry (and find out what Breizh means in French)
A "Griffon" we saw at one of the animal shelters. Do you have tips on how to best welcome a shelter dog into a home? Share in the comments.
EXPAT TAX HELP
Are you an American living outside the US and struggling to complete your taxes? I just turned in mine last week and the process was simple, straightforward, and inexpensive using this US expat tax filing software and this special offer.
Spotted just this morning in La Ciotat: local dog enjoying the maritime breeze. One ear up to determine the direction of the days wind.
Mille mercis to the following readers who sent in a donation following my Expat Taxes post. This truly is a reader-supported journal and I appreciate your help in keeping it going!
A Message from Kristi: Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.
Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.
Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety
Dear Kristi and Jean-Marc,
Thank you so much for your post today. My family went 7 years without a dog before we decided in 2020 to adopt another dog. We went with a labrador rescue group because our last dog was a lab mix and I loved the breed. We asked God to guide and help us. The rescue group asked a lot of questions about our family and they guided us to the right dog for us. I'm happy to say that God has truly blessed that decision. We love our pup and he provides us so much joy and laughter. We give thanks to God every day for him. May God guide and bless you as you decide what is best for your family.
Posted by: Gwen | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 11:51 AM
Thank you, Gwen, for sharing your story. I am so happy you were guided and found such a great dog. This gives us hope. Going to start praying!
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 12:21 PM
Gwen, what a beautiful post! I agree and urge you to adopt if you do decide a dog is right for you at this time. In 45 years of marriage my husband and I have had adopted pets only. Each has blessed our life. Wonderful pets are waiting for new families in shelters and with breed rescues!! A dog from a breed rescue generally comes with a known history Great way to avoid having to overcome previous abuse/neglect. Bonnie chance, Kerry
Posted by: Kerry Painter | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 12:27 PM
Kerry, That is interesting about the breed rescue. We learned about it this week when visiting a refuge near Marseilles that had just welcomed several German Pointers. Apparently a large, illegal breeding organization was busted and a hundred or more dogs have been placed in various shelters across France. We were interested in one of the dogs but he was not for adoption (for the moment) while the rescue team looked into his health issues (including epilepsy and a very bad case of “otitis”.
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 12:35 PM
Hi Kristi and Jean-Marc
We’ve had 2 wonderful Golden Retrievers, pausing more than 3 years between dogs as we were so devastated by the loss of our first wonderful family member. We lost our second retriever aged 13 the very same week you lost yours! This past week we went to a major animal shelter in Sydney to donate our dog beds, bowls, blankets etc - strange coincidental timing? We were very unsettled by the number of abandoned dogs ready for adoption, many apparently traumatised. Their ages indicated that they’d been Covid purchases, now unwanted. We felt bad (and the experience has stayed with us) but overall were not influenced to adopt as we were concerned that we would not be able to manage the past trauma and that the contrast would be difficult requiring more time than we currently have to give. There’s nothing like the unconditional love of a puppy as it grows to adulthood with the family but as we’re still getting over our loss we will not adopt nor look for a breeder for now…
Posted by: Sandra Barrkman | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 12:49 PM
Hi Krist and Jean-Marc,
Thanks for your post today!
It is so difficult to lose a much loved pet. We went for 10 years without a dog after our Labrador Buster passed. You will know when it is the right time and you will find the one or the one will find you!
We have a lovely, sweet Rottweiler named Tank now and he's a big love!
Have a lovely weekend!
Posted by: Eileen | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 02:27 PM
We have had three small dogs from three different shelters over the years – all grateful for their new homes. But, of course, not without a few peculiarities along the way. Small dogs can live a long time – our first, Bandit, lived to be 18!
Our current shih-tzu mix is 13-ish – with health issues, of course. And that can be the case with any and all dogs.
I suspect if you were to visit a shelter, you’d know when you had found your pet.
Posted by: Sue J. | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 02:43 PM
After having two wonderful Goldens in your life, it may be difficult to consider another breed (and yes, there could be major differences in energy levels and trainability). That being said, adopting through a breed rescue or at a shelter is a fine thing, and the staff are usually quite honest about what you can expect if they have had time to observe and work with the dog you are interested in. Two English dog trainers who have numerous Youtube videos and workbooks under the name of Absolute Dogs have a lot of free information online and through their website. They have a workbook available for free at the moment about welcoming a shelter dog into your home. Best of luck, however your new friend comes to you. My vote is for a puppy, as Jean-Marc has the time now to train her and establish a close relationship for all.
Posted by: Ellen A | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 02:48 PM
My husband and I are fosters in Santa Fe, NM. We missed having a furry friend but still like to travel. Consequently, we decided to try fostering.
We have had pets most of our married life, primarily adopting either from a shelter or taking in a friend’s 12 year old poodle when she died unexpectedly.
I have found that whether you bring home a puppy from a breeder or from a shelter, all will need time, energy and mostly love as both you and your pet adjust to each other. Each animal has their own quirks whether adopted or purchased.
Yes, it can be sad to visit a shelter. Yet, should you find a future pet there, you will have rescued an animal who deserves a home and loving companions.
Whatever you decide, best wishes!
Posted by: Georgia S. | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 03:17 PM
Beautiful post. I have the same dilemma, having lost my faithful, loving companion of 14 years last September. She was everything to me. I’m not ready to consider adopting another dog at this point for all of the reasons you mention in your heartfelt post, and because I just don’t think I can handle the heartbreak of inevitable loss. That said, if/when the time comes, or an opportunity presents itself to welcome another dog into your family, your hearts will guide you to a good decision.
Posted by: Evelyn | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 03:19 PM
I have worked in animal shelters for 25 years and my husband and I have always adopted from shelters (or taken in strays from the street). There is nothing like the love of a rescued animal. In the states, animals from shelters are required to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated prior to adoption. The benefits of adopting an older animal also mean that sometimes, they're already housebroken and know some manners/tricks. I hope you go this route for your next pet and give a homeless animal a second chance. Thank you for your post!
Posted by: Anita | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 05:51 PM
We have two dogs from responsible breeders who had each worked with friends and chose the dogs that fit best with our family. We have adopted successfully as well in the past. I agree that the right dog will find you! It is a long term commitment - do what is right for you <3
Posted by: Karen | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 07:39 PM
When I was searching for a pup 2 years ago I came to realize that Shelters aren’t the only place to find dogs. There are many, many groups who rescue large dogs, small dogs, one breed of dogs or several breeds of dogs.
Due diligence on the computer could help you find these rescue organizations in your area. I went to a small dog rescue and after much searching I found someone (out of Scottsdale) who rescues small dogs. I got my Shih Tzu from her. I highly recommend that breed for their loyalty, joie de vivre, and just plain fun. No, he doesn’t pull very hard on the leash. Yes, he had pulled an expando leash outta my hand to run (like a killer) at another dog on a leash. Check your emails for photos of Beppe.
Posted by: Roseann Milano | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 07:56 PM
I've had reasonable success with rescues, mostly cats these days due to what was my work schedule. I think "listening" to them is important. Dogs especially have eloquent body language.
Learn to read what they like/dislike/ want and work with that. Once you get to know each other you can start asking
them to adapt. I honestly haven't really tried to train any of my critters, we just go for peaceful coexistence. E.g. trying to brush my long haired semi feral cat... he takes the brush gently in his teeth, removes it from my hand, and rests his head on it. Grooming session is over.
For dogs, I believe choosing a breed or mix whose characteristics work with your lifestyle is critical. I really admire border collies but I fear I am way too sedentary, have nothing to herd, and they may be a bit smarter than I am. I myself have not figured out what "come by" means yet.
The pup that finds you will be a "lucky dog".🐶💕
Posted by: Karen in Northport, NY | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 09:51 PM
Hi Kristi & Jean-Marc
We understand totally the dilemma that you're in. We lost our Golden (Flora who you met once) 18 months ago. After three months of total emptiness we decided that we couldn't live without a dog. BUT, like you, we looked in animal shelters and wondered about the history of these poor animals who were being cared for.
So . . . we decided to contact the Cheins Guides d'Aveugles in Occitanie and Provence and see what might be available with a known history. We expected to wait quite a long time and perhaps adopt a middle-aged, beautifully trained dog. To cut a long story short, a month later we adpted a 9-month old golden Labrador who had minor elbow dysplasia and thus was not suitable to be a guide dog. Wow! What a shock to go back to a puppy, but also what joy. That was 15 months ago and we haven't regretted a moment (well, not much, anyway!!).
Whatever you do, good luck.
Posted by: Nick & Jill | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 10:01 PM
Definitely adopt!! As JM states, many of these dogs have suffered at the hands of people and a lucky animal could have the benefit of you, JM and your mom to have a great life. Maybe you could give a senior dog who doesn't require a lot of energy a wonderful retirement or get a puppy but please don't go to a breeder!!!
Posted by: Suzanne Serino | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 10:25 PM
Dear Jean-Marc and Kristi,
My heart goes out to you. I understand the longing to have a dog in one’s life and all the love and comfort, which goes both ways. I grew up with dogs and have had them ever since I married, until now. The emptiness is overwhelming. We spend a lot of time remembering…
You know what it means to love a pup. Whenever or however you find one, or one finds you, you will know in your heart that it is the one. Trust your instincts. It will happen when it is time…
Posted by: Chris Allin | Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 10:46 PM
Please, please consider rescue. A good rescue group will work with you to find the right dog for you. I have rescued a few over the years and never had any problems that a little patience couldn’t resolve. I currently have a sweet setter mix from Turkey. She led me to working with transporting mostly sporting breeds on their way to foster or adoption, as a way to give back to those who helped get her to us. Good luck, I know you can find the right one.
Posted by: Nancy | Thursday, May 25, 2023 at 04:01 AM
This is a wonderful Instagram account.
Much about rescue dogs and rescue organizations.
Posted by: Chris Allin | Thursday, May 25, 2023 at 06:21 AM
After obtaining one Golden Retriever from a breeder and thereafter adopting rescued dogs to be part of our family since 1992, and being involved with Golden Bond Rescue of Oregon and Washington (an an-volunteer organization), I can assure you my family's experience with rescued dogs has been entirely positive. I have been amazed at the resilience, strength and gratitude shown by rescued dogs who have endured horrible conditions before being rescued by an organization such as Golden Bond and then by their foster and forever families. I would NEVER obtain a dog from a breeder again. If you would like me to elaborate or have any questions, please feel free to be in touch with me.
Posted by: Leslie in Oregon | Thursday, May 25, 2023 at 11:07 AM
I totally understand Jean-Marc's concerns regarding the traumas experienced by some dogs who have ended up in rescue centres and how the care some might need is quite an onerous task - it is best to be totally realistic about what one wants and what one can offer, in any relationship! Can I suggest a way to avoid this with rescue dogs might be to adopt a young puppy from a litter born in the rescue centre? Another way to avoid behavioural traumas excarbated by being housed in small cages in rescue centres, following on from poor conditions in the animals previous ownership, is to adopt a dog from a 'one-man-band' type of rescue, where the dogs are kept in way that's more conducive to their socialisation and good development, preferably having daily physical and verbal contact with the same person. I hope you and Jean-Marc can find a way to share some of the pleasure of adopting a loving dog. Good luck with your search!
Posted by: Lorraine | Thursday, May 25, 2023 at 11:12 AM
We've had good experiences with both shelters & breeders.
When first married 30 years ago, we tried to catch a stray running around our NYC neighborhood, but never could grab him. We called all the shelters, and found one with the dog's description. When we arrived, it was the wrong dog, but he was going to be euthanized the next day, so we adopted him. A Shepard mix. Hunter. Best dog ever. We were lucky to have him for 10 years.
After he died, we waited 3 years we were so heartbroken. Next was an unadoptable senior pitbull. No one wanted him because he was so old. But we had him 4 wonderful years before cancer took him. He was a gentle guardian to our toddler son.
14 years ago, we looked again, because I feel a house without a dog isn't a home. My husband picked the saddest, sickest, scrawniest dog in the place, Handsome. It took 2 years to train him, he was terrified of everyone. Since he was half starved when we got him, he's had health, diet, skin issues ever since. But 14 years later, he's doing better than ever and is part of the family. Six years ago, when my son left for college, we bought my husband a Brittany puppy. My son thought Dad would be lonely and Shadow has kept Dad on his toes ever since. And he's a good influence on Handsome, keeping him young with his energy and antics. Every dog requires patience and training, but most shelter dogs have some already and save the time of training a puppy. Each one is a different investment of time and energy (and often money! ) Best of luck making your decision. Any dog would be lucky to join your family!
Posted by: Maura Muller | Thursday, May 25, 2023 at 03:31 PM
Hello Nick and Jill,
We are so sorry to learn Flora has passed on. We have such fond memories of your visit with her (and possibly some photos). So happy to learn about how you found your golden lab. Here is to many happy years together! 💕🐾
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Thursday, May 25, 2023 at 03:59 PM
I have had one of each now - a rescue dog and a puppy, not from a breeder, but a puppy from an unwanted farm litter, so not strictly a rescue dog. (Although I understand that two of his siblings have had to be rehomed as their new families didn't realise how much work a puppy would be!) My first dog was two or three when we rehomed him from the rescue centre - he had been a stray so we had no background information on him and didn't even really know his age. He was the most loyal dog to me and my best friend, but incredibly unpredictable and I really did need to have my wits about me when we were out and about in case he did anything naughty.
The dog I have now is a joy to walk, not unpredictable as I've had him from seven weeks old so he hasn't had time or opportunity to pick up any bad habits! But ..... he's been a real handful. I know that's the puppy stage which is exhausting. When I lost my first dog, I waited a whole four months before welcoming Domino into my home - I had fully intended to wait a full year after losing Finn, but I was contacted by a family member, letting me know about this unwanted farm litter and would I like to have one. I said no for about two weeks before finally giving in!
I honestly don't remember life before dogs now - they're such wonderful companions, but also a tie. I've had to decline offers of holidays, etc, because I never wanted to put Finn back in kennels - even for a weekend - although Domino has stayed in kennels once in two and a half years, and didn't even give me a backwards glance as he was led off to meet his new room mates!
I wish you every luck in making the decision. The fact that you're taking your time making this decision shows how thoughtful you are with regard to taking on an animal or not. All the best x
Posted by: Susan | Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at 02:58 PM
Dear Kristi and Jean-Marc
Thank you for your wonderful posts about the dogs on the ferry and your reflections on adopting a new pet. Your posts are so beautiful and relatable, they never fail to touch me. After reading J-M's reflection, I strongly agree. I feel compelled to encourage you to request an x-ray of any rescue pet you are considering adopting. My sister discovered that the dog she adopted over a year ago has been living with a broken hip for years. Her muscles have grown around the hip. They will have to do extensive surgery (including rebreaking the bones!) to fix it. My sister (who is single) has just changed coasts for a new job and this is a difficult challenge (emotional, physical, financial...) with little local support. J-M is correct. This shelter dog carries a heavy past and has never recovered from the trauma. I pray she may someday, and that my sister can meet this challenge she has chosen to take on. All the best to you, Carmen
Posted by: Carmen Clarke | Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at 05:36 PM
Please don't forget Lili in all of this! perhaps your new doggie and Lili will be pals so that that sweet aged kittie doesn't have to flee her home!
Posted by: trish axelro | Thursday, June 01, 2023 at 04:48 PM
Good point, Trish. We want Lili to be at home in her 19th year, and a dog might cause her to return next door. She is a priority now. 💕
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Thursday, June 01, 2023 at 05:40 PM