"To get an eyeful" in French: An accidental trip to a “Naturiste” beach
From France to New Zealand: Jean-Marc's Big News!

We have a new dog. Welcome Ricci!


After one year and three months sans chien, we are overjoyed to announce the arrival of our newest family member: "Ricci". She is a 3-year-old Mini Australian Shepherd and she hails from une ferme in Aveyron. 

Ten days ago, at a party, I was chatting with Corinne about her mini Aussie. "We love those dogs," I said, "but aren’t they a bit nervous?" Corinne, visibly gaga about her Berger Américain (as they are called in France), assured me le tempérament depends on the owner. With that in mind, I began to dream about these lovely dogs once again…

By the next day, Jean-Marc was combing through ads on Le BonCoin when he came across "Penny" a 4.5-year-old BAM (Berger Américain). Before we knew it, we were headed 5 hours north to a cow and cannabis* farm, where the busy owner was phasing out her dog breeding business. She had two adult females available: Penny and her 3-year-old cousin, Ricci. 

We had come all this way to see Penny, but understood right away she was not for us. "We live on a busy street," I explained. "We can't have a barker...the neighbors would not like it." Behind the chain-linked fence, there was another dog, who was a lot calmer and she was making eyes at us. "Who is that?" I asked.  

"C'est Ricci."

“Could we please see her?” With that, the gate was opened and both dogs bolted out, running circles past the chickens, over to the barn, and back. Ricci came when the breeder called her and I took her into my lap. She was thoughtful and calm for a moment and I knew, of the two dogs, she was the better bet.

My daughter had cautioned me to only take the dog if there was un coup de coeur - a lighting-strike attraction. This sort of put the brakes on things as I was not instantly enamored. I was, in fact, full of hesitation. But I couldn't be sure, either, if I wanted to leave without Ricci. We had come so far...we could make this work...fingers crossed this wasn’t a mistake. One final thought sealed the deal: Grandma will love her no matter what.

"We don't have a leash," I said.

"She's never been on a leash," the farmer replied, adding she was very sorry there might be some fleas….

"Assis!" I said to Ricci, to get a closer look, but the little shepherd did not respond.
"She doesn't know any commands..." the farmer explained.

Because this seemed like a risky transaction, and considering the upcoming expenses (sterilization? vaccination?) I negotiated the price down as far as possible. I reasoned, privately, that if we returned home and there were no surprises with this adult dog (hip replacement surgery?--I'd heard horror stories), I could eventually send a donation to the farmer to make up for any losses on her part.

Ricci now in the passenger’s seat, on my lap, I picked off as many fleas as possible during the 6-hour ride home. Our seat was also soaked in saliva, even so, the long voyage went better than expected. The closeness helped form a kind of bond, but, after reaching her new home, Ricci was running into walls. She didn't understand door-windows, and banged right into our porte vitrée. The "dog bed" concept threw her as well. And the flush of a toilet, the vacuum, the garbage truck…just about any sudden bruit had her running for cover and making puddles around the house, in the bed, and on the couch. The former “Berger” from Aveyron may as well have been dropped off on Planet Mars.

She’s been on high alert since landing here near the beach in La Ciotat. There will be so much to learn for her and for us, but thankfully, everyone in our family is smitten by cette petite Louloutte, and ready to help.
"I'm Max! You'll be seeing a lot of me," my son said, taking her calico face into his hands and gently caressing her. And when she freaked out on the leash with me, Max's girlfriend, Ana, tried a different approach by first presenting the leash for Ricci to sniff. Gradually, Ana was able to coax her out into the garden, with Max cheering her on.

Grandma Jules is over the moon and inspired "Reece is so paintable! I’m just crazy about her!”
“Mom, her name is ‘Ricci’, that’s Ree-Chee like the perfume Nina Ricci... (but "Reece" is sweet, reminiscent of the peanut-butter cups I loved as a kid).

“I'm going to call her Chi-chi,” Jackie already decided, via video chat as we all gathered for Ricci's first night home.

Ana calls her "Ma Petite Puce," a popular term of endearment in France (but also appropriate given Ricci was teaming with fleas.). On day two Ana returned to help give Ricci a chewable medication for the fleas, the ticks, and any potential worms. And it worked immediately. 

What a whirlwind two days it has been since bringing Ricci home: loads of laundry, retraining, shopping (leash, bed, food, toys), and agitated sleeping. But we've enjoyed every minute. Speaking of time, that coup de coeur Jackie insisted on may not have been instant, but it came after a leap of faith.

Whether a coup or a leap, all that matters is that our dog is here. Bienvenue, dear Ricci. We love you already!

To leave a comment about our new dog, or any sort of advice on welcoming an adult farm dog to the city, click here.
Will Ricci's startle reflex calm down? Will she continue to make puddles when scared? Advice welcome and appreciated.




Click here to listen to Jean-Marc and me pronounce the French and English terms

sans chien = without dog
une ferme = farm
Le Berger Américain = Mini Australian Shepherd 
le tempérament = disposition 
la porte vitrée  = glass door
le bruit = noise
mon loulou, ma louloute = affectionate term for pooch, pup
ma petite puce = my little flea

*Le cannabigérol est un composé de la plante de chanvre. Cannabigerol is a compound found in the hemp plant.

Ricci mini australian shepherd

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In the car during the ride home from the farm in Aveyron and, finally, on an evening walk on the beach here in La Ciotat.


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Welcome Ricci ! Let's begin a new journey !

Christine Vaughan

I am trying to persuade my husband to let me get one of these dogs from an English breeder near Orthez. Someone living near me here in La Teste de Buch has one from last year’s little and she is the most beautiful dog. I hope to be able to visit the breeder to meet the pups next month.

I’ve had border collies in the U.K. and love the breed

Marilyn Louise Whalley

Wonderful news. I know you will have lots of loving fun with your Petite Puce. I am really happy for you both


Hello, I am a very experienced dog owner and ex vet nurse,An admin on a huge international group of 70 ,000 members to give and share and monitor advic. I have worked and lived with dogs all my life, experienced with many breeds and a bit of a canine psychologist. There is a 3.3.3 rule with rescue dogs in all and any circumstances, so it’s 3 days find out about your home and you, 3 weeks to try and settle and 3 months to feel absolutely at home and comfortable ( google it, it will explain it much better than me) You can’t rush this especially if they’re totally untrained as is your gorgeous Ricci, I like 'Reece' better too ! I know a lovely Australian Sheperd called Bandit, he's a large one though but just as pretty, he adores everybody and has a very fine 'waggy rump' his whole bottom wiggles from side to side, it's adorable, please contact me for any other help I can give 🐾🐾🐾🐕

Nina Tasi

Congratulations Kristie !
I know too well that hole that is created in your heart when your four-legged angel who walks besides you flys away. The hole never really fills back in, but when another appears . . . like RICCI , you find even more room in your heart.
Both you and Ricci are the lucky ones . . . in many was , you saved each other .
Sending all of you love . . . have a great time making wonderful memories with Ricci .

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Lin! This is already very helpful. I had not heard of the 3.3.3. rule but it makes a lot of sense. Will keep your email info. Merci encore! 🐾💕

Susan Newell

I would like to suggest a halter called Easy Walk. It has a ring on the front (on the chest) and teaches dogs to not pull and is much kinder than a leash attached to a collar. Also, as I am sure you know, treats are de riguer for training. She is lovely and the black and white photo is beautiful.. There is also something called a thunder shirt that can help dogs with noises that are alarming.

Kristin Espinasse

Great tips. Thank you, Susan!


I have been owned by several dogs over the past 50 years and have been trained to a single word: treats. The very best by far: ZIWI, small, dry, easy to carry, leave no detritus in your pocket. Use as reward for good behavior, and for not-bad behavior. Best, John


Life is better with a dog! Welcome to Ricci aka Reece. Enjoy ! She is a beauty.


So happy for you and Ricci. She has found a wonderful family and you have a beauty who is already starting to bond with you. And good for your health - lots of walks with all her energy. Enjoy!

Ann Borman

What joy! I'm so happy for you and your family. And, especially happy for Ricci, who will have a big life full of love and adventure. You are now Ricci's "Kahu"--the perfect way to describe our relationship with our beloved animal companions. Have you seen the videos on social media? Check them out. I will start calling my dear Franny the Weimaraner ma louloutte, and Otto, the black lab, mon loulou!


Congratulations on your new fur baby! I ditto Lyn',s post about the rule of 3s. I work at a dog rescue in Colorado Springs. All of my sweet babies are puppy mill rescues and have all come with different issues and rates of progress. Be patient and consistent. She's young enough that she should pick up on potty training quickly. In the meantime get some washable pee pads (,Amazon). Put her on a schedule of going outside after she eats and at intervals throughout the day. I know your are thrilled to have another sweet baby to love on. She's beautiful!


Perhaps you should have first read what PETA has to say about buying from breeders.
See https://www.peta.org/features/are-dog-breeders-bad/
Isn't animal ownership for you just a reason to make yourself happy? I see most pet ownership as a form of slavery. What choice does the animal have? Never had any. He didn't chose you.
Sorry -- it all seems a rather selfish act.
Of course, all the so-called animal lovers will be self-righteous about any such statements. I've heard it all.


Congratulations! This is a very smart breed. We have a lot in our Dog Training Club. You have some big challenges since she was never taught commands and lived on a farm. With patience I think you all will help her conquer her fears. I recommend taking her to some obedience classes. You and Ricci will learn a lot and the trainer can help with behavioral issues. Ana seems to have the right instincts and understands Ricci needs to learn about her new environment and family.

Lin is absolutely right about the 3-month rule. With rescues or rehomed dogs, it takes 3 months for them to be truly 'at home' and for their personalities and behaviors to settle. And be cautious about her wanting to 'escape.' Your photos are wonderful.

P.S. Regarding Wayn's objections, I always remember that dogs chose to be domesticated so that they could be cared for. I have always thought of caring for my pets rather than owning them. If you need any advice, let me know. I am currently the President of the Princeton Dog Training Club. Of course, you are not first-time dog owners but Ricci is being re-homed so that is different from your other dogs. Enjoy!

Laraine Lippe

Dear Kristie,
So happy for you...enjoy Ricci (or Reece)....she is a beautiful dog and I am sure she will settle into her new life and family slowly and steadily with all the love that is surrounding her. How lucky she is....and how lucky you all are! So glad that you now have a dog....I know how much you have missed wonderful Smokey!


What wonderful news! I cried when I read about Ricci; one week ago Annie, our 14 year old puggle, crossed the rainbow bridge. I am so happy for you. Like you, I think it will take time to find my next love. Enjoy every minute.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
How wonderful that you have found Ricci. I am so happy for you all! It was only a matter of time…
Having been through what you describe, I have faith that Ricci will settle in and come to know the love and kindness your family has to offer. And may she bring you many years of love and joy!


What a sweet dog!


ChiChi is beautiful, congratulations! Our three-legged rescue dog, Derby, died 18 months ago and we miss her very much. Advice: patience and love, on your part and hers!

Elizabeth L

Congratulations on the newest addition to your family! Ricci is darling.

One tiny correction: in the example you gave of the farmer giving up the practice of breeding, the word would be “phased”, not “fazed”.


Our dear Kristi,
Felicitations! FELICITATIONS!!!
Thrilled at this so wonderful bonne nouvelle!!
Please know we are sharing your happiness and wishing you all many,MANY years together filled with joyful companionship!.Please excuse me for sounding like a broken record when I repeat this again but! very definitely, dog is God spelled backwards and it is no coincidence you found each other!
The only advice I offer : we have been blessed with our Yorkie fur babies since 1968(!!!) and,truly, through both easy and challenging moments, ( to quote someone both wise and famous)-- all you need is love!!( and perhaps several pinches of patience thrown in for good measure!)
Ma chere, your wonderful post and beautiful pictures truly made my day!!
PS gorgeous here in Las Vegas today! Fall is in the air!!

Susan Barnabe

Kristi, this is wonderful news! Ricci is beautiful. I believe she will be all you hope for. It will just take longer for her to learn and adjust, given that she is no longer a puppy! One Day at a Time! Susan B.


Bonjour Kristi, congratulations on your mini Aussie!, I have one as well, although she’s not quite as mini as she is supposed to be, her father was 25 pounds but she is 50 pounds, she loves to sit on my lap. She’s 2 1/2 years old now and her name is Kona. since I got her during the Covid lockdowns in the United States, she is not very socialized and afraid of Things she doesn’t know, a bit of a challenge, but she’s a great dog. Yours is beautiful!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Elizabeth. This is so helpful.  Off to update the post. 

Kristin Espinasse

Very sorry, Andrea, for the loss of sweet Annie. Sending love 💕💕


Welcome home, Ricci! How lucky you are to have found a home filled with love. I look forward to reading about all your exciting adventures in the days ahead.

Julie Farrar

What a beautiful dog. All of us dog lovers have had that one perfect dog that needed no training and one that took all of our time. But both kinds bring so much to our lives. At the beginning of the pandemic I knew I needed a dog to survive it but there weren't many options because they were going so fast. We ended up with a rescue that only met size requirements. He has meant work for us over the years since since he came with no idea how to live in a house or go up stairs. I lost some shoes to him. We had to hire a trainer to get him to walk in our neighborhood because street noises scared him. But I know we were made to be together so that I could give him the patience and love he needed. He is much loved at doggy daycare. He could ride in the car all day. We have a dog bed in every room now. He will probably be the last dog we have because of our age, but I'm so glad it was him. P.S. I like "Reece."

Lois P.

Just be sure you exercise him as much as you love him and you won’t be far from the mark!


hello Kristi,
it's your friend jean from Canada.
a dog is a good friend, and from the past stories we have read from you, you love dog.
coup de coeur (also coup de foudre) worked well for you and your family.
i am sure you will have a great time with Ricci and as she becomes educated and "in love" with you.
a dog is really Man and woman's best friend.
congratulations to you and Jean Marc.
ps: my friend, a hair dresser, is called Ricci.
so everytime i talk to Tony ricci, i will think of your friend the dog.

lynn mcbride

Bonjour Ricci! you are just the cutest. my favorite kind of dog, except for rescue mutts of any sort. looks like you have made yourself right at home! xxoo

Frances, Napa, CA

I am so happy for all of you. Your journey and lives with her will be a joy! Congratulations!!

Our dear 13 year old Rough Collie (think Lassie), Callie, died last December after a long illness. We were going to wait months before getting another dog. Then, in late January, our local animal shelter had a Rough Collie for adoption. Someone had found her abandoned on the streets with no collar, no microchip, not spayed or anything - they brought her to the shelter. As soon as I saw her face on the FB post, I knew she was for us. We went to the shelter and adopted her.

She had issues as she had clearly been mishandled, and she was afraid of everything. With patience, love, an excellent dog trainer, medication (for awhile), and two good dog friends, our dear Brynn is showing us her personality and true self. She is the perfect dog for us, and our lives are so much better with her. I know our dear Callie would be happy.

Joan Jacobson

After losing our 17 year-old pup, we recently adopted a mini Aussie rescue much like yours. She is 2 1/2. She is extremely anxious around people. I took long, lovely walks with my former dog, Alfie, but Aria freezes when a person approaches on our walk. Children make her want to run. She also walked into a screen and glass door……..thought this was quite unusual until I read that your pup has done the same. She is fine at home but is highly anxious outside. Noises don’t seem to bother her, but people do. She’s a love, so I’m hoping that, with time, she can relax and be less hyper-vigilante! I wish you luck and love with your darling girl.

Kristin Espinasse

What a heartening and inspiring story, Frances. Thank you for sharing about Brynn. 💕💕

Kristin Espinasse

I love this simple equation! Thanks, Lois. 🐾💕

Marianne S. Rankin

Congratulations to the whole family, and welcome, Ricci! I'm sure Smokey would be glad that you have opened your home and lives to another dog, and I wish you years of enjoyment together.

I don't have a dog at present, but have two cats, and have had others in the past, all from a no-kill shelter in the area. With regard to pets and people, the shelter doesn't regard adopters as "owners." They term them "guardians," which I think is appropriate. We take care of them, but allow them to be their own "person" as much as possible. (Cats are sometimes accused of being standoffish, but are really just independent.)

C.S. Lewis, in one of his books, talked about what might be called "animal salvation." We take a dog and wash it, train it, etc., and it leads a richer life than if it had remained in the wild, at least with caring humans. I have no doubt you will give Ricci a good life.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Marianne, for your thoughts here. ♥️♥️

Skip Anderson

Hi Kristi!

This is Karen and Skip…

Just before the Covid pandemic, Karen and I went to visit a remote shelter for dogs.

A lot of barking pit bulls… Except for one small tan dog that immediately jumped up into Karen’s lap. That was a good move.
In spite of the same self promise, you and Jean-Marc have made, we brought Gracie home with us.

Our 17 year old dog, Daisy, really liked Gracie and taught her how to live in our house. They slept together for the next few months until Daisy was in too much pain, and we had to help her go to heaven.

I know you guys will enjoy having this new child, and Ricci will bring a new and fuzzy joy to your life.

A bientot, Skip & Karen

Kristin Espinasse

Aw, wonderful to read about Gracie. Thanks, Karen and Skip, and very sorry for the loss of Daisy. What a dear teacher she was 💕

Karen Cafarella

such a beautiful dog, congratulations.

Karen in Northport, NY

Just the kind of story I needed this week. What a little beauty. Though, poor baby, from barnyard to household. There's a change of scenery. But I'm betting she's plenty smart enough to adjust and couldn't have landed in a better spot. 3-3-3 sounds about right. Love that breed myself. The only hesitation I had was my long work days and their need to run. I looked into agility training. Fun for all if she's into it. I will look forward to Ricci stories.💗💗


Hi Kristie;
He is beautiful, I have a mini Aussie and so does my daughter who now lives in Hyere. They are wonderful dogs, smart and usually a one person dog. My advice is to find a treat he really likes, and reward him for everything he does well. Positive reinforcements, no punishments, but you all probably know that.


A local family run hotel here sponsors quarterly wine tasting events to fundraise for the non-profit Peace of Mind Dog Rescue. I never have more than one glass of wine or I would come home with an adorable rescue dog each time. Every dog has a truly heroic rescue story and each wears his or her blue and white “Adopt Me!” bandanna with great panache! This organization also supports the rescue owners and will take care of the rescues when the owners cannot. It is a care-care situation!

Kristin Espinasse

What a wonderful organization! Thank you for sharing it, Joanne. 

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Iris. Good to know your daughter lives nearby, and to read about your mini Aussies. So far, Ricci, (or the breed) does not seem great-motivated. Maybe once she settles she can focus on this more. Happy to report she is doing so well, on day 7!


Congratulations to you all! I'm sure Smokie is smiling very big up in Heaven knowing you are going to be well cared for and loved dearly! My daughter and her family just got a wonderful dog and it is just making the family an even more warm and wonderful place - and, now that I've finally moved to MS, I get to have a dog (by default), too! Lucky are we!!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Judi! So happy you have moved and now have a grand dog too!

Sharon Marchisello

Bienvenue a Ricci!

Art Bervin

For 16 years we shared life with a wonderful Sheltie-Border Collie mix. His owner was about to move from Oregon to Canada, so was eager to move several young puppies before he made his big move north. While we waited for him to start feeding Cedrick and his litter mates with grown-up food, we wondered whether we had made the right decision. We were given the privilege of having first pick from the litter, and he was first in our lives for the next 16 years. But rheumatism turned this once-young dog into a dog who could barely hobble. The pain of watching him perhaps matched his pain in maneuvering around the house and our property. We had to make the right decisiion to "put him down." But he gave us many happy memories that live on in our aging years.

Merci beaucoup, Cedrick

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