The French word for Puppy (see Smokey and his 5 sisters when they were baby goldens)

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Our Smokey turned 9 last week (here he is with 2 of his 5 sisters, in 2009). Following the previous post, I received several emails about our golden "showing his age." Funny, I didn't notice the gray in his beard or his eyebrows..until now. And it's all got me thinking about how we need to treasure every day with him. 

We'll keep the rest of this post light, with a look back at Smokey and his sisters. You'll meet Braise, too, Smokey's mama. We got her from the dog pound before we moved to the first vineyard. She passed in 2015, at the same age Smokey is now. We really do need to treasure every day from here on out!


Today's Word: le chiot

    : puppy, pup

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Kids! Every parent knows that caring for them can be an all-consuming activity, that is, when the kids are not busy consuming you.

Yesterday, Braise and I, exhausted after 7 weeks... and 14 years (respectively) of child-rearing, decided to GIVE IN.  And so we collapsed on the front porch and put up our figurative white flags.

With that... the puppies rushed forth in victory!

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After getting our ears, noses, fingers, and toes chewed on... and our shirts and fur slobbered on... on a eu assez!... That's when we decided to play dead in order to get these puppies off our heads!

(Photo, below: Braise, in the background, feigns la mort. I follow suit, protecting my face just in case...)

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Braise is a natural. Just look at her play dead...

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In my case, the puppies aren't buying it -- though one stops to feel my pulse with her paws.....

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After a bit of ceremonial concern (short-lived sympathy on their part) ... the puppies now esteem that it is time to revive the drama queens.

Let's get their ears! Let's pull on their hair! (Braise, in the background, continues to play dead, unfazed by the toutou torture...)

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The victor! (Actually, there were six of them. Each got his/her turn to rise to the sky as Champion, glorified


FRENCH VOCABULARY
le chiot =
puppy, pup
on a eu assez = we'd had enough
la mort = death
le toutou = doggie (from this list of French baby talk)
Le Seigneur = Lord (from last photo caption, below) 

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Smokey griffes de sorcieres
Smokey, finding a cool spot during the heatwave, as he snoozes on a bed of griffes de Sorcière (witches claws!)

Smokey and bougainvillea
Seigneur, remind me of my priorities, including spending more time with my dog!

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


The French Word "Renifler" & Getting my Husband and My Dog to Speak the Same Language

Square in front of Cinema Lumiere in La Ciotat France
This post begins and ends with pictures of (or around) our city's historic Cinéma Lumière. Corrections to this journal are helpful and appreciated. 

Today's Word: renifler

    : to sniff, smell, snuffle

French Audio/Listening: Click the link below to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in today's story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.

Click here for MP3 sound file

 
La Gloire de Mon Pere Marcel PagnolImprove your French and lose yourself in the local countryside with this classic by Marcel Pagnol. A must read!


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristi Espinasse

Yesterday, en fin d'après-midi, Jean-Marc and I went to the movies. Marcel Pagnol's Le Temps des Secrets was playing at the historic Lumière Cinema here in La Ciotat, so my husband and I made a rare date of it.

Scenes from the nearby Massif du Garlaban relaxed us and the film was a welcome divertissement from various blèmes here at home. While each member of our family is dealing with their own struggles the good news is all three generations are currently getting along ici au bercail. (One new item in my human relations tool belt is a book about relationships and how speaking another's "love language" helps to improve communication and fosters closeness.)

How to speak to me...
After our movie date, we returned home and went for a neighborhood walk with our dog. My husband is not used to walking Smokey but he's making an effort and that really "speaks" to me. But when our golden retriever stopped to sniff the various weeds along le trottoir, Jean-Marc abruptly tugged the leash, "Allez, Smokey!" Move on!

An animal's sense of smell is so keen, so precise, there is a very specific word for it in French: le flair (as in "Le flair des chiens est supérieur au nôtre."). If only my husband understood that le reniflement, or sniffing, is part of the pleasure our dog gets from these outings. On second thought, surely Chief Grape, who's in the business of sniffing, understood...

Speaking my husband's language...
"Chéri," I began, "weeds are like wine to Smokey!" Jean-Marc looked a little confused and maybe I was too: Smokey doesn’t like wine but he loves to sniff weeds. And JM doesn’t care to sniff weeds but he loves wine. Is that clear, Dear Reader?  Are you and I speaking the same language? Now, where was I? Oh yes, trying to get my husband to see things from our dog’s point of view:

“...weeds (to Smokey) are like wine (to you). Other dogs have "visited" those grassy patches and left their scent which is brimming with information that only a furry connoisseur could appreciate!"  

At the next mauvaise herbe (a flowering dent-de-lion, this time), Smokey slammed on the brakes again, sniff, sniff, sniff. "That may be a ‘Chardonnay’," I pointed out. “Think of all the smelling notes or aromas!” Half a block later and our dog screeched to a halt at a patch of blossoming fumaria, "Ah! That must be a ‘Merlot’... with hints of plum? vanilla? cedar?" (And for Smokey, notes of Chihuahua? Bulldog? Beagle?)

Speaking our dog’s language...
By the time we rounded the corner, on our way home, my husband seemed to be catching on. "What's that one?" I quizzed when our twelve-year-old toutou plunged his nose into a bunch of sticky lichwort.

"Un Pommeral!" JM replied. (A Pomeranian! Smokey agreed, in his own dialect.)

"And that one?" I asked, pointing to another group of weeds.

"Ça, c'est un Pouilly-Fuissé!" (and un Bichon-Frisé, according to Smokey's estimates, sniff, sniff). Très bien! Our family members were relating to one another via a common interest: l’odorat. And now there would be no need for further comparisons in order to get my husband to understand my dog's need to renifler or sniff (i.e. no need to tell Chief Grape that the next time he goes to a wine fair, he should wear a clothespin on his nose and hurry on past all his favorite booths)! Man and dog were now speaking the same language (and man's wife happy now!).

"Thanks for the movie and for the walk," I said, when our trio reached our front gate. I'm looking forward to more dog walks with my man, and to turning more weeds into wine.

P.S. My human relations tool belt continues to widen and for once that’s a good thing!

***
Smokey golden retriever and fumaria weed
Smokey and the fumaria blossoms ("la fumeterre" in French). Here is a fascinating article about a dog's sense of smell.

The 5 love languages
Post note: The devotional JM and I are reading is based on Gary Chapman's book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts


FRENCH VOCABULARY
fin d'après-midi = late afternoon
le divertissement = entertainment, diversion 
le blème (from "problème") = worry
le bercail = home ("fold")
le trottoir = sidewalk 
Allez! = Go on!
le flair = sense of smell
Le flair des chiens est supérieur au nôtre = Dogs have a better sense of smell than we do (Wordreference.com)
le reniflement = sniffing
Chéri = Dear
la mauvaise herbe = weed
une dent-de-lion = dandelion
le toutou = slang for “dog”
très bien! = very good
l’odorat = sense of smell

Vocabulary not included in the soundfile (added later, during editing)
un bichon-frisé = a popular dog breed in France, photo here

Cinema lumiere movie theater in la ciotat france
The Cinéma Lumière movie theater. Our city is known as "the birthplace of cinema" after the Lumière Brothers (pictured) came here to create the first motion picture ever made, "L'Arrivée d'un train en Gare à La Ciotat". Also located here in La Ciotat, The Eden Theatre, known as the first cinema in the world.

Near cinema lumiere la ciotat france

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


French for "fighter, warrior, survivor" + Fate, Love, and Dogs: Our golden retriever is “un battant”

305B92BC-DE2C-4E9C-87D7-FB0AC1073AD8
These are our dog’s parents. That’s “Sam” on the left and Breizh, right. They lived life to the fullest and are over the rainbow bridge now. We hope to keep their son, Smokey, on this side of that colorful arc-en-ciel for as long as possible. Read on, in today’s post.

Today's Word: un battant

    : fighter, warrior, survivor

French Audio/Listening: Click the following link to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in the following story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.

Click here for the sound file


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

“Universal Love”

On the eve of our dog's surgery, we had a whiskers-to-whiskers talk (whiskers, because at 54 I may have a few myself...). "Smokey, tomorrow you're going to have le she-rur-rur-zher-ee," I explained. "But here's the deal: your mission on earth is not over yet. We all need you here with us, and it is not time for you to leave our family. D'accord?

Our golden retriever had une bosse on his chest that had grown to the size of a tennis ball (and was as hard as one). Finally, we made the difficult decision to remove the lump. The doctor said the dangerous part would be the anesthésie, given our dog's advanced age. Therefore, we decided to remove several lumps while Smokey was under anesthesia, as the actual surgery was the “easy” part, according to our veterinarian. 

La Salle D'Attente
In the waiting room with two other patients (an energetic cocker spaniel and un chat de gouttière). Smokey, was uncharacteristically calm as the assistante vétérinaire sat beside me to complete a questionnaire concerning our chien. “Do you want the supplemental blood test for seniors to determine whether Smokey is fit for surgery?”

That’s when tears began to flow.

"Oh, ça va bien se passer!" the vet’s assistant assured me.
"He is twelve-and-a-half years old," I reminded her, wiping away les larmes.
"Ne vous inquiétez pas...."

The stranger's empathy must have opened up a few chambers in my heart because the catharsis that came with it brought more than release, it brought a mysterious energy.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Lean not on your own understanding

In all your ways acknowledge Him
And He will make your path straight.
                                Proverbs 3:5-9.

Those were the words that escaped as I drove away from the vet’s without our beloved “pet” (à vrai dire, I have never thought of Smokey as a pet). I don't know why my mind recalled these particular Bible verses, there are so many others that would seem more specific to the occasion. But those words coming out of my mouth, in repetition and in various tones and cadences, sustained me until I arrived at the next (unplanned) destination: le supermarché.

In an emotional spree, or frénésie, I selected lots of goodies for Smokey’s No. 1, full-time caregiver (my Mom): a box of almond-covered Magnums  (chocolate-coated ice cream bars), her favorite raspberry jam (aptly named “La Bonne Maman”), an exotic fruit juice (la canneberge this time) and more Greek yogurt—comfort food to dry Mom’s tears (tears I don't ever remember seeing before). I also put three extra big boxes of Kleenex into my cart.

"Smokey is everything to me. He is my whole life," Mom admitted, her face awash with worry when I took him away that morning.

***

Loading the groceries onto the tapis roulant, I paused to inform the cashier, "Those are the green kiwis and not the one-euro-each yellow ones from New Zealand."

"Pas de souci," she smiled, ringing in the fruit at .75 a piece.

"By the way, did you ever find your glasses?" I asked la caissière, remembering how troubled she was last week, asking other employees if they’d seen her lost lunettes. We customers in line promised to jeter un oeil on the way out to our cars.

"Oui!" she said. “Je les ai trouvées.”

Oh, quel soulagement!” I smiled.

When the cashier finished ringing up my groceries and asked if I had a store fidelity card, I said I hadn't gotten around to it. That's when she left the register, walked around the counter, took out her own wallet, and selected a card inside of it...

"What are you doing?" I asked, but the cashier didn’t answer. 

I did not realize the extent of the cashier’s gesture until I got into my car and looked at the store receipt, which was reduced by 25 euros, thanks to “des remises immédiates salariés.” (She had used her very own employee discount.)

I was blown away. Why she took this risk on me instead of someone in need is a mystery.

Passing other drivers on my way home, I looked beyond our individual windshields and said:

Bless you! To the white-haired lady behind the wheel,
and bless you! to the conductor with the beard,
and bless you!! to the solo driver in the N95 mask— 

That may seem like a strange thing to do, blessing strangers from behind a windshield, but hadn't the cashier done the same from behind her plastic store shield before stepping around the barrier to deliver the blessing?

I remembered the vet’s assistant and how a stranger’s sympathy began this whole domino effect—only instead of pieces falling down, hearts were opening up. And I realize now that the mysterious energy that came when I left my dog in the hands of Fate, was Fate itself or one facet of a complex and universal love—a love we are led to trust.

I hurried home to tell Mom about what happened when I left the vet’s, about all the goodness along the way. But if those first two hours flew on angel's wings, the next three were deep in the pits of hell as we waited and waited for a call from the vet's office. During the long attente my faith à froler le superstition. In a canine version of Step on a crack brake your mama's back, I navigated a host of possibly-fatal actions while waiting for the vet’s call:

...On the way to our mailbox I stalled: Do you really want to check the mail now...or check it later? What if it’s bad news? (reflecting further bad news from the vet!)
...and when lunchtime came there was the question of eating or not eating....then chewing or not chewing...while my dog was under the knife...
...Ditto with nap time.  Could I lie down or might resting be symbolic of eternal rest? A superstitious voice whispered.
...finally, a nagging question: Should I call the vet for an update or would calling irritate the staff (and somehow this would affect the outcome?)....

WHY WEREN’T THEY CALLING!!?! Did Smokey NOT wake up from the anesthesia? 

Finally, 5.5 hours after dropping off our dog for surgery, news came in the form of an SMS from our beloved dog:

Coucou, Je suis en train de me réveiller. Tout va bien. Smokey” (Hello, I am waking up now. All is well. Smokey). I burst out of bed, flew down the stairs and over to Mom’s to share the good news:

"Smokey sent an SMS...I mean, the vet sent an SMS!" 

We were giddy! Exaltées! A little while later I walked into the vet's and heard my dog barking! “He heard you first,” the receptionist pointed out, letting Smokey into the waiting room. If Smokey was quiet and calm this morning, now he was wagging his whole body, which was covered in stitches. Stitches on his calf, stitches on both his sides, stitches on each side of his chest, stitches on his private parts... While he was asleep, they even burned away the large growth in his mouth!

C'est un battant!” the vet's assistant said, sharing that two doctors and one anesthesiologist worked on Smokey!

Oh oui! Un vrai battant! Smokey is a true survivor. And when earlier he disappeared into the operating room, his spirit seemed to float back out, blessing everything in its furry wake, reminding us: when facing Fate, abide in trust--and take comfort in Universal Love. As the words of a familiar verse promised, It will set your path straight!

Jules and Smokey
Both Mom and Smokey are doing great. Merci infiniment to Dr. Trapes and the team at La CiotaVet, here in La Ciotat. 💕

FRENCH VOCABULARY

un battant = a survivor
le she-rur-rur-zher-ee
= lighthearted rendition of "chirugerie", or surgery. The correct term is "intervention chirurgicale"
d'accord? = ok?
une bosse = a lump
une anesthésie = anesthesia 
la salle d'attente = waiting room
un chat de gouttière
= alley cat
le chien = dog
ça va bien se passer! = everything is going to be ok
une larme = tear
ne vous inquiétez pas = don’t worry 
à vrai dire = to tell you the truth
le supermarché = supermarket
la frénésie = frenzy
pas de souci = no worries
la caissière = the cashier 
Bonne Maman = Good Mom
la canneberge = cranberry
le tapis roulant = “the rolling carpet” (conveyor belt)
l’attente (f) = wait
frôler = verge on
jeter un oeil = have a look
je les ai trouvées = I found them
le soulagement = relief
des remises immédiates salariés = immediate employee discounts
exalté = giddy

A dashing Smokey at 7
A dashing Smokey, back in the day (2016?)

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


La Prise de bec - unexpected run-in with a stranger while walking my dog

Ever since I dislocated my elbow while walking my dog, outings with my golden retriever have changed. I am more aware of the dangers around every corner. Giant barking dogs can leap out of nowhere, causing a dog on a leash to react in self defense, and even tiny chiens can wreak havoc. For walks to go smoothly, you have to know your dog, be alert, and have a back-up plan--my own is to quickly change sidewalks or change direction, but this reflex did not work for us recently.  

Saturday's drame was similar to the one that landed me in ER, only this time there was a better ending (if not a happy one). Things had gotten off to a good start, last weekend, when I swallowed past fears and took control of the leash. If we let a bad experience get the best of us, our world becomes smaller and smaller--and so does that of our loved ones! 

Smokey and I headed out into the sunny horizon, one of us mumbling a mantra of positives--the other naturally oblivious to life's What ifs?

Keeping my dog reined in close to my side, we smiled (did you know goldens smile?) at the customers seated in the cafés along the seafront. A waiter seemed to recognize us from the neighborhood, which elevated our spirits even higher.

As the pavement ended, we proceeded onto the dirt-paved area that opens out before the sea. That's when Smokey stalled....

I recognized this behavior. It signaled he was about to bolt. Looking up, I saw the object of his interest: a glossy long-haired retriever that looked very similar to Smokey, only a bit smaller. As I quickly turned to redirect Smokey, the two men walking the dog smiled brightly. I recognized that sourire, it said, Aw, c'est mignon! Our dogs are interested in each other. Let's introduce them....

I smiled back in a thanks but this is not a good idea way -- but it was too late. Smokey began dragging me forward over the slippery ground. I was quickly losing my balance and made the decision to drop the leash (something I would not--and could not!--do the last time, and ended up in that ambulance)....

My golden retriever charged toward the smaller dog and the two were soon caught up in a tangle of barking.  Everything happened so fast and I heard myself shouting, Ne vous inquiètez pas. Il ne va pas attaquer! Don't worry, he won't attack!

That is when one of the men yanked my dog away from his dog and tossed Smokey toward me. With that, he shouted, Il ne va pas attaquer??!! IL NE VA PAS ATTAQUER???

I grabbed Smokey and my adrenaline held him in place. The two men walked off spouting anger our way. 

My mind was reeling. They don't know my dog! They don't know he is a survivor! Attacked by two dogs as a puppy he was not expected to live. LIVE HE DID! Smokey went on to live 9 lives and after another cancer diagnosis, this past summer, I was told he was lucky to be alive, but not to count on a much longer life.... 

I realize none of this matters to the men whose dog has just been threatened by my dog. I just wished to explain to them that while Smokey may bark up a storm -- he'll soon scramble to hide behind the very dust he's kicked up!

This time the two of us sat there in the dust. Dazed, I finally got up off the ground, swallowed the lump in my throat and walked home with my tears and my dog, who was back on his leash. Smokey and I had made so much progress since we moved from the country to the city, where he--where both of us--would have to adjust to les citoyens. As upset as I was over this unexpected pris de bec, or run-in, I could still put myself in the other dog owner's shoes, and I knew I would have reacted the same way, too.  What saddened me was the misunderstanding that remained. 

Today Smokey and I could both use a walk. Instead we are holed up inside, our worlds having rétréci, or grown just a little bit smaller.  We will figure out a way forward, meantime there's a lump in our way (or in my throat). I leave you with a recent picture/video of Smokey R. Dokey. I hope you can see it below (tap the the middle of the picture, until you see an arrow, to make Smokey's tail wag!).

The regular edition of French Word-A-Day will be back next week. See you then.

Amicalement,

Kristi
   

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


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


EXAMPLE SENTENCE:

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


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

"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.


FRENCH VOCABULARY

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

A special note to teachers - your students are encouraged to sign up to French Word-A-Day and receive this family-friendly journal. Thank you for sharing this site.

French-Dirt-Richard-Goodman
One of my favorite books. Order a copy here.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


The 5 senses in French + Smokey's Grief

male female golden retrievers dog chien straw hat

Pictured: Sam and Breizh, in 2009. Smokey's parents met and eloped in Marseilles. It is the most amazing story ever. A miracle! Please read  "Chien Perdu" here. (But don't miss the update, below).

l'ouïe (wee) noun, feminine

   : hearing

Related Terms & Expressions:

  l'ouï-dire = hearsay, rumor
  avoir l'ouïe fine = to have sharp hearing
  avoir l'ouïe un peu dure = to be hard of hearing
  être tout ouïe = to be all ears
  à portée de l'ouïe = within hearing
  les ouïes des poissons = fish gills

AUDIO FILE: listen to Jean-Marc read today's example sentence: 
Download MP3 or Download wav

 

Les cinq sens. Nos cinq sens sont les suivant: la vue, l'ouïe, le goût, l'odorat, le toucher. The five senses. Our five senses are the following: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

To sharpen. I spoke about the French word aiguiser in a previous post, and was set to feature the verb today, when plans changed. It may seem like a strange word choice following the news about our dog's death--but then my senses seem sharper since Breizh passed away on Saturday.

With the past four days being cloaked in sadness, I began to wonder if grief isn't one of our 5 senses... but of course it isn't, as evidenced by the following list (quickly counted on my right hand, beginning with le pouce, or thumb). 

  • la vue (sight)
  • l'ouïe (hearing)
  • le goût (taste)
  • l'odorat (smell)
  • le toucher (touch)

No, grief is not a sense, but a stirrer of the senses, as we see in these examples:


LA VUE - SIGHT
Soonafter our 9-year-old golden retriever passed, I saw something alarming, quelque chose I had never before noticed. Smokey, Breizh's 6-year-old son, was sporting a silver barbe, or beard.

I remember the day, not three months ago, that I saw Breizh's gray mustache (or was it white?)--after someone pointed it out to me. And I wonder, how many more things--evident, present, glaring--are we not seeing? 

L'OUIE - HEARING
J'entends. I hear a whistle in Smokey's breathing, one that wasn't there before. It is le souffle of sadness and it sometimes terminates with un gros soupir.

Patting his soft, lopsided head, I murmur: Je sais, Smokey, je sais. Elle est partie, notre Breizh. Elle est partie. But it's okay. It is okay. All will be okay.


LE GOUT - TASTE
Food was tasteless, but my appetite returned on day two, arriving on a rumble of hunger pangs. But for Smokey, who lost his mama, it would be 5 days before he would show any interest in his croquettes--the sound of which used to make him do twirls in the air! This morning, no air-twirls, but he did wag his tail excitedly as I set down his bowl. His hunger had finally returned.

L'ODORAT - SMELL
Together, Jean-Marc and I buried Breizh before a field of sunflowers, in front of the laundry line where I go almost daily to dry our clothes.  A wooden wine box doubles as a headstone and a shelf where we can set mementos--like the mug with Breizh's picture, which doubles as a vase.

This morning, while collecting escargot shells from the surrounding field, to set beside the vase of bougainvillea, I remembered Smokey's unusual behavior, when days before he strolled up to the grave and lay down beside it.  He must sense she is here... I thought. Only to watch him walk off with half a cross!

Smokey! Bring that back! I called, hurrying up to him to retrieve the horizontal piece of the cross. Setting the broken tree limb back in place, over the grave, I stared at the cross I'd replaced.  Death, it seems, has a sense of humor, too. 

LE TOUCHER
Smokey's hair has never felt softer, and touching him has its effet tranquillisant. I wish I'd saved a lock of Breizh's hair. Then again, what would I do with it? Wear it around my neck? No! Like those small plastic envelopes holding my children's first teeth, it would be forever hidden in a shoebox, somewhere discreet.


MY INTERGALACTIC DOG

(These paragraphs were originally posted under the "sight" section, above. But I found a better example and needed to move this one somewhere else. The concluding section seems fitting.)

On the phone with my aunt, we were talking about the planet Pluto which has been making headlines lately. "It really makes you wonder how it all began. Consider the endless galaxies!" 

My aunt's words queued my mind which now pictured a vibrant midnight blue outer space with rolling waves of silver stars. Suddenly a smiling golden retriever jetted right past me! There was Breizh, riding an asteroid the size of a basketball! My head got whiplash watching her streak past me, a line of sparkly stardust in her wake. I watched as she disappeared into the future (or the past?). Oh the mystery of where exactly she is, the spirit of our sweet, golden girl.

I had to share the image of a beaming Breizh transported through space-- had to share the vision with my aunt, who very sweetly and politely responded, as if she, too, could picture that intergalactic dog of mine rocketing across the starry sky.

And it dawns on me now, clearer-headed days later, the delicateness that framed my aunt's sympathetic response. I hope to remember to react as she did the next time someone is grieving - to remember to see the intergalactic dog that is not. Nod your head wildly, utter your conviction - let her know that you see just what she sees... and so let her grieve. 

                                                  *    *    *  

Breizh-sunflowers

Dear Reader, Thank you so much for your comforting words regarding Breizh. The empathy you shared, via the comments box and by email, helped to unblock further streams of emotion. 

Here is the most recent photo of our golden girl. At the time I took the picture I did not know it would be the last, or I would have taken a thousand more. As it is, this image fills me with peace, representing, so sweetly, her ongoing journey.

Amicalement,
Kristi

Breizh golden retriever cabanon france straw hats

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Coursier: Delivering my dog's tumor to the post office...

Max-and-jean-marc

Do you listen to the audio files in these posts? Here are the French men who record them: my 19-year-old son, Max, and my husband, Jean-Marc. The treasure of sound files for this blog dates back to when the kids were 7-years-old. Here is a gem you must listen to and share!: A nine-year-old Max, reading Rudyard Kipling's inspiring poem, "If". Click here.


coursier, coursière

    : delivery boy, delivery girl, courier, runner

AUDIO FILE:
Listen to Max read these French words:
Download MP3 or Wav

Hier, ma mère a joué la coursière en amenant la tumeur de Smokey à la poste! Yesterday, my mom played delivery girl by bringing Smokey's tumor to the post office.

Improve your French pronunciation with Exercises in French Phonetics. Click here. 


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse


I often feel I am, as my mother-in-law says, pedaling in the choucroute, or slogging through daily life--especially life's duties! Ever a student of self-improvement, I crave information on how to render the everyday smooth and efficient. I'm an incurable web surfer and have a shelf of books with titles such as Remèdes de Grand-mère and Comment Vous Simplifier La Vie. And when I still can't get my act together, I turn to this paper-thin book by a 17th century French spiritual advisor.

My French veterinarian is also trying to simplify her life. On Tuesday, after Smokey's operation, she handed me an express envelope, with instructions on how to mail my dog's cancerous tumor.

"Just drop this off at the post office," she said, as casually as that.

"La poste?" the bizarre order was not registering.

"They're closed now," she said, looking at her wristwatch. "But you can keep it until tomorrow."  Shaking the bag, she offered. "It's specially sealed!"

Returning home, I put our furry patient, Smokey, to bed and turned my attention to the current dilemma: WHERE TO PUT THE TUMOR? Looking around the house, I weighed the possibilites:

...I could set it on the table beside the entry. No, Breize might eat it.

...Hide it in the armoire? No, it could be forgotton!

...Stick it in the bathroom! Only to sit and stare at it. No!

...Put it on the window sill.... And risk scaring away my new friend Tanja (who was soon arriving for a walk. Yikes, il faut se dépêcher! Better hurry up!)

I stuck the tumor in the kitchen, behind the toaster, and almost passed out when returning from my walk I found someone had tampered with the package--moving it from behind to toaster... to the cutting board! AK! WORST CASE SCENARIO!!!

In the end, no harm came to the The Little Tumor. (Whoever had moved it was impatiently reaching for the stash of baguettes, just behind le grille-pain, and had simply failed to return the non-bagette to its place (isn't that the way your own family behaves when hungry? Anything else--body parts notwithstanding--is no more than an obstacle between them and the food.)

The next day I delivered my dog's tumor to the post office, which, just like my vet and myself, is always looking for ways to simplify life! They have recently  installed several automated machines, or "mail it yourself" stations. Thankfully, one window remained, with a living breathing person behind it.

Handing the clerk my dog's tissues, I may not have chosen the most efficient option (French postal workers are not known for their speed), but I trusted Smokey's tumor would soon be spirited away, as the French say, comme une lettre à la poste!
 

  Tanja-and-Ricard

 I met Tanja and Ricard (yes, like the famous French anise pastis--see him in the fence's opening?) on Instagram. Voilà, one great reason to finally sign up to Instagram: for the interesting and wonderful people and dogs you'll meet! For the latest photos from this French life,  join me here.

Kristi-coffee

 Nice to meet you! Have you recently joined French Word-A-Day? You might enjoy the story behind this language journal. Read the intro to my book First French 'Essais'

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Droit au but: Smokey update

Winetasting

Come to our home, this Monday, April 20th at 3p.m. for snacks and a winetasting. (We live near Bandol) To reserve your seat, email kristin.espinasse@gmail.com (p.s if the fava beans are ready, we'll try some :-)


droit au but (dwaht-oh-bewt)

  • to go straight to the goal, directly to the goal
  • to get right to the point

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc read the French words (BTW: Did you hear the train whistle? My husband recorded this soundfile while laboring his vinefields! Today he is removing giant rocks, making room for more grapevines. You can hear his strained breathing as he speaks!) Download MP3 or Wav

Smokey est allé doit au but. Il a couru vers le monstre jusqu'à ce que ce dernier fasse demi-tour pour fuir dans la forêt pour toujours ! Smokey went straight to the goal: he ran toward the monster until the latter turned to flee into the forest forever.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Yesterday morning, while putting the finishing touches on my feature story for France Today (Ça y est! C'est fini!) Max popped his head into the bedroom. Reaching down, he patted our youngest dog, who was resting on the floor beside me, after Tuesday's biopsy.

"Ah, do I have a story about Smokey!" Max perked up, his eyes traveling from Smokey to the window, beyond which a great field meets the forest.

"See over there? That is where we saw the wild boar! Mathilde and I were playing fetch with Smokey, when I threw the stick... and a giant sanglier charged out of the forest to collect it!

"Oh mon Dieu! Where was Mathilde?" I asked, worried about Max's girlfriend.

"She stood frozen, tétanisée, between those two olive trees as the boar bolted towards her, the ground thundering beneath its feet!" 

Max threw out his arms, trying to describe the beast, which was thrice the size of our golden retriever. "I screamed for Smokey to come back, but he ran in front of Mathilde and charged on towards that boar!"

Max knew what everyone in these parts knows: a dog is no match for a wild boar! Screaming in vain, my son could not stop our dog from pursuing the threat, and so prepared for the worst as Smokey disappeared into the dark forest.

Then suddenly our golden reappeared! Rushing up to the beautiful demoiselle en détresse, he never once stopped to consider his weakness.

*    *    *

I hope you enjoyed Max's story about Smokey The Wonderdog. I shared several others with you, Tuesday, when I told you about that méchant lump. Bad news is the lab report came back positive for cancer. The vet was not able to operate, as planned, owing to excessive inflammation. More info, below, in these posts shared on Instagram, and here's an uplifting comment we received on Facebook, this one by Vayia M:

He will be fine! Yes, he will!!! Only positive thinking, he deserves it!

 Yes, yes! Smokey, you deserve it :-)

Smokey-sleeping

(Yesterday's update, on Instagram) The lump could not be removed today. The surgery is in one week, when the swelling subsides. "It is unfair that dogs get cancer," the vet said, agreeing with Jackie, who tried to make sense of the diagnosis. Looking to the bright side, Smokey has hopeful options--this, in addition to the Super Giant Lucky Star that shines down on him.

Smokey-and-Jackie

His upside down umbrella did not shield him from the deluge of kisses he just received from Jackie. He's now planning on bringing this prop to the beach this summer. And the summer after that. Or, as Karen said, on FacebookAnd seven or eight summers after that!


DSC_0112
Smokey, when he was a pup.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Come to our winetasting Apr. 20th + Smokey's lump

Jean-marc olive tree france vineyard
Jean-Marc, laboring his 1st year vines. He is pushing a motorized plow, or motoculteur avec charrue, the idea being the plow would do most of the work. But as I snapped this photo from the upper field, I heard a lot of French cussing as my husband struggled to direct his new and unwieldy assistant....

WINETASTING - APRIL 20th
Please come to our home, this Monday, 3p.m. for the first dégustation of the season! 10 euro fee. We will try three wines and enjoy some snacks out on our balcony. We will also all lay hands on Smokey! So please come, and help cheer our littlest golden. Please send your confirmation message to me at kristin.espinasse@gmail.com

Déguster (day-goos-tay)

    : to taste


AUDIO FILE
: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following French words: 
Download Deguster or Wav file
 
Venez déguster mon vin rosé le vingt avril. A bientôt!
Come try my rosé wine this April 20th. See you soon!

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Smokey could use your thoughts and prayers at this moment, as he is currently in surgery for the removal of a méchant lump (a "mean" lump, as the doctor noted, on examing the bleeding, golf-ball size mass which grew rapidly over the past week).

Our wonder dog came into this world after his mother disappeared for a day in the bustling streets of Marseilles. She returned with a big surprise. Les chiots. Puppies!

DSC_0019-1

DSC_0053

We kept Smokey, the only male in a litter of girls, but almost lost him at the age of 2 months -- when he was attacked by two big dogs

Smokey was stapled back together and has learned to live with his handicap (a tongue that hangs out perpetually, making it difficult for him to eat; his astuce, or trick is to chew on his wrists after his meal. Perhaps the chewing produces extra saliva which helps to digest all the croquettes that are stuck in his throat...

Then there was The Attack of the Provencale Vineyard Monster (probably a wild boar, or sanglier, defending her babies). The unlucky run-in left Smokey with giant holes in his already lopsided face. Once again, he was stitched back together.

My dog and I even had joint accidents as in last November, while out on a walk. When a guard dog in a fenced yard burst out of the bushes, Smokey went flying, dislocating my elbow when I could not leg go of the leash

My-best-friend
                                     "Whiskers"

So now one of us has a crooked arm and the other, a crooked face. And up until now, we have been thrilled to walk this crooked path together. Because isn't that the way life is: never straight ahead - always an unexpected bend in the road.

Braise and Smokey, golden retriever dogs
 
                Smokey and Mama Breizh

Le tout, the most important, is to help each other along as best we can. To be gentle to each other, to find the kind word. To love, forgive, and to sacrifice. Nothing else matters. Everything else makes it difficult to practice these virtues.

Why does it always take a crisis to remember the essential? And then why do we blame ourselves for the fate of our loved ones?

Mon Smokey! You have helped yourself to heal in so many ways. Please, oh, please, use all your wonder dog powers to heal today

 

Smokey-sad

Smokey. Photo taken three years ago. But he had that same uncertain look on his face this morning. Please keep our golden boy in your thoughts. Merci beaucoup!

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


how to say sunset in French?

1-coucher du soleil

Parasol pines and the sunset over the Mediterranean, at Le Port d'Alon in St Cyr-sur-Mer.

coucher du soleil (kew-shay-dew-sow-lay)

    : sunset

Audio file: listen to Jean-Marc 
Download MP3 or Wav file

Ce soir à Bandol, le coucher du soleil est à 16h56.
Tonight in Bandol, the sunset is at 4:56 p.m.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

I felt guilty taking Smokey for the walk this time--after all, it was Braise's turn. Ideally I could promener both dogs, but golden retrievers are strong engines and it's difficult to control two leashes hooked to that much dog power!

"It's okay, Braise, we'll be back--with dinner!" I say, hurrying Smokey into my car--as though we were only going for take-out food. But Braise is sharper than both of us, she's nobody's fool. Because she is a gourmande, or foodie, she'll turn a blind eye on things this time--just as long as we return in half an hour with dinner!

I feel horrible backing out of our driveway, Smokey by my side. I know it's wrong to show favoritism, and I never set out to prefer one dog over the other. But every since our youngest golden was attacked by two dogs, I can't help but feel for him. Every single time I see his pendant tongue--dried like cardboard from constant contact with the air, I'm reminded of his misfortune. 

Braise and Smokey, golden retriever dogs
       Braise fiercely protected her son when he was attacked, years ago.

Walking is therapy for both of us. Hiking through the coastal forest we are free to explore our surroundings, both literally and figuratively (Smokey likes to sniff out those "marked" rocks, while I'm busy turning over pebbles in my mind. I know the answers are under there, somewhere. Come here often enough, and I'll find the hidden keys).

Occasionally we encounter another hiker and I automatically call Smokey close, putting on his leash. I wouldn't want the stranger to feel uncomfortable or afraid. Of course there is no reason to fear Smokey, but how could a stranger know that? By pulling my dog close, I can at least put the other person at ease.

But what about my dog? What kind of message am I giving him? Have I only been reinforcing the fear I'd hoped to erase? "Smokey, come here!" I say, chaining him whenever a stranger approaches. I wonder, now, just what kind of message this is to the former victim.

1-coucher du soleil - smokey

The leash-or-not-to-leash question came up several months ago, while hiking my favorite coastal path. Braise (for it was Braise I was walking this time--I assure you it was!), yes it was Braise's turn to walk the day we encountered an elderly man and his unleashed boxer dog.

Noting Braise's excitement, the man offered a solution: "Why don't you unhook her from the leash?"

I watched, amazed, as Braise immediately dropped her intimidating act (restrained while her would-be-foe was free to attack--she had no choice but to pretend to be something bigger than him. In this case she was pretending to be a grizzly bear!). 

The experienced worked that time, but here now--as Smokey and I approached the last leg of our walk, I spotted another leashless dog....

It seemed to be a labrador-boxer mix. Did he or she belong to the lovers who were blocking the trail? I tried to get eye contact, but the couple was unfazed as they stood, bodies entangled, staring out to the horizon.

"Excuse me," I said, getting more nervous by the moment (yet careful not to transfer my emotions to Smokey). "Is that your dog?"

The couple's trance was temporarily broken when the man looked over at the black and gray dog. "No. I don't know who it belongs to." The lovers returned to their peaceful embrace, as they gazed out to sea.

Meantime Smokey and I needed to step past them and that unpredictable dog just beyond! In a ready-set-charge mode I seized Smokey's leash, ready to streak past the catatonic trio (the dog's eyes were trained eerily on us!). 

Suddenly the man turned to me and raised his hand. "Shhh!" he said, putting his finger to his lips.

Shhh? 

Shhh! he repeated, and he smiled as he pointed to the horizon. I turned to see a dark orange disk sinking slowly into the sea. 

"Qu'est-ce que c'est beau!" It's beautiful! said another voice drifting up from the hillside. I looked down to discover another group of hikers, eyes glued to the far side of the sky. They whispered in awe as they, too, watched the sun set over the Mediterranean. 

With everyone standing there goo-goo eyed--bodies flushed with the drug of scenery--I realized, finally, this was no time to be on a mission! My eyes disconnected from the threatening dog, settling instead on the coucher de soleil. I gently turned Smokey's head in the same direction, before kneeling beside him to enjoy Nature's closing act.

When the sun disappeared behind the sea, the strangers began to look around at each other, in unspoken appreciation of what they had just seen. That's when I noticed the "scary" black dog. It had quietly wandered up to Smokey and me, to rest peacefully beside us.

As the strangers dispersed, so did a few more of my fears. Little by little, they are dropping off to sea... one sunset at a time.

1-coucher du soleil

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Woof woof! Bow wow! Aboiement (or how to say dog bark or barking in French)

comptoir at Le Bar de la Marine in Marseille France Vieux Port  (c) Kristin Espinasse
Nothing to do with today's word, just an iconic zinc bar in Marseilles: Le Bar de la Marine (made famous by Marcel Pagnol in his "Marius" Trilogy.

un aboiement (ah-bwa-mahn)

    : bark, barking (of dog)

Also: aboyer = to bark, un aboyeur (une aboyeuse) = a barking dog

Reverse dictionary: 
to bark up the wrong tree = porter plainte contre la mauvaise personne
his bark is worse than his bite = il fait plus de bruit que de mal 
 

Audio File: Today it is 17-year-old Max's voice you'll hear when you click on the following file and listen to this French sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

Les aboiements de Smokey font peur aux bandits! Smokey's barking scares the bandits!


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

This morning I hurried downstairs to let out our dogs. I wasn't going to make the same mistake as yesterday by enjoying a rare grasse matinée. That extra thirty minutes sleep-in cost me a demi-heure of clean-up time after I was late helping Smokey get to his morning business. Quel dégât!

This time there were no suspicious odors wafting up the stairwell, and I reached le rez-de-chaussée to find the floors clear and dry. Ouf! The week was off to a good start!

"Good morning, doggers!" I offered my warm English greeting quickly followed by some serious French, "Allez les Toutous! Pipi dehors!"

Sliding open the porte-fenêtre in our kitchen, I was amused by the morning routine. Braise paused at the door, letting her son race past her. As Braise waited her turn she looked up at me, anticipating the usual acknowledgment.

"C'est bien, Braise! Très, très bien! Tu attends." I caressed her soft head and rubbed her floppy golden ears between my fingers. She is a sweet dog, if extremely pushy at times (mostly at snack time).

Comme d'habitude, Braise and I turned our attention to Smokey, who had bounded out of the house as fast as a cowboy surprised by bandits. Shooting from the hip—or all guns blazing—Smokey charged forward, propelled by a noisy gargle of aboiements:

OUAF-OUAF-OUAF-OUAF!!!!

Smokey's head shot in every direction, pulled this way and that by his flapping, toothy muzzle—out of which came the skinny dog's tirade of threats. The scene would be hair-raising if seen by any other perspective than our own.

Braise and I watched, unwilling to point out to our voluntary hero the obvious facts: there was, as usual, not a bandit in sight—not even a lowly field mouse sped by.  

Never mind. When Smokey reached the edge of the yellow, parched lawn—fitting of this wild west scene—he began pacing back and forth, coughing out a few more threats in his best impression of gardien. Down below, where the lawn drops off and the grape vines spread out in one great field of spectateurs, Smokey addressed his leafy audience. "I," he barked, "AM Top Dog!"

Braise and I looked at each other knowing very well the truth of the matter: though Smokey is top dog of our hearts, he could not hurt a top fly.

Meantime, he doesn't need to know that... 

"You tell 'em, Smokey! You tell 'em!" in the safety of Smokey's noisy wake, Braise and I cheer the underdog.  Handicapped since the tender age of two months old (his hanging tongue but a hint of les ravages he suffered) he has come a long way since that fateful day, when he crossed paths with a couple of lost and angry dogs who mistook him for an easy target....

What the aggressors failed to notice was the Top Mama nearby.

Braise saved her son that day. After being stapled back together and given a "good chance" of making it. Smokey did. Il a survécu

 ***

Read the story of a brave two month old golden retreiver, here.


FRENCH VOCABULARY

la grasse matinée
to sleep in

une demi-heure
half an hour

quel dégât
what a mess

le rez-de-chaussée
ground floor

ouf!
phew!

Allez les Toutous! Pipi dehors
Come on, dogs! Pee pee outside!

la porte-fenêtre
glass door 

C'est bien, Braise! Très, très bien! Tu attends.
That's good, Braise. Really, really good! You're waiting. 

comme d'habitude, or simply comme d'hab
as usual 

un aboiement
bark 

ouaf-ouaf
woof-woof, bow-wow 

le gardien, la gardienne
keeper, watchman(woman) 

les ravages (m)
ravages 

le spectateur, la spectatrice
onlooker, witness, audience 

il a survécu
he survived 

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You've come a long way, Baby. Smokey eventually healed on the outside. On the inside he seems to have gained back his confidence, as evidenced by his morning patrol.

 

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Since Smokey's frightening attack, Mother and Son regularly practice Self Defense for Dogs.

Braise: Son, mind your ears! You look more like the Flying Nun than Rambo!

Smokey: OK Mom, just trying to look scary. By the way, who is the Flying Nun?

 

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It takes many tender moments to rehabilitate a victim, especially a victimized animal.

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Smokey, left, says: "I can protect you, too, Mom."

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
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