Archives for category: I heart animals

But I sit on it a lot less than I used to these days. Paris is a good place to get off your butt. Case in point, this morning’s dog walk:

I could handle living in this art nouveau-flavored apartment building…


There is art in the most unexpected places…


Everything is political in France.


Love the French attention to aesthetic detail.


I whined about wanting a dog on Web Worker Daily the other day, citing one of the lesser reasons why I wanted one (a reason that is relevant to the lifestyle of the teleworker). I kept on searching after Basile slipped through my fingers, kept checking the sites of all the shelters that were on an RER line (the Paris commuter rail system). I google mapped their locations so I’d be ready when the time came.

I went to see Fifi on Friday with Vincent’s daughter. She was a dainty little mutt described as “half angel, half demon” by her foster mother (some rescue organizations here put dogs in host families to socialize them till they find permanent people). She had been abused and couldn’t stand to be touched by strangers. Not the kind of dog I could take to cafés and barcamps with me… And that’s a requirement.

This is the one that didn’t get away. I found this little mutt online on Friday, went and met him Saturday with the kids, brought him home Sunday.


He looks a little dour here. Or suspicious. Or scary. But don’t be fooled. Turns out Wiley loves everybody — people and other dogs too — is house trained (two “accidents” the first day, but then he remembered the rules), sweet-tempered, affectionate, already devoted to us, chills out in between his walks, doesn’t sniff crotches, beg, bark, whine, chew, or jump on the furniture… He’s the most emotionally healthy and well-behaved shelter dog I’ve ever met. He’s not used to the big city; freaks out a little at all the cars and people. But he’ll get used to it I imagine.

wiley-2.jpgVincent took a pic of me holding him on the train on the way home. (You’d think I’d just given birth. Guess these instincts just don’t go away…) Vincent’s classic quote during the do-we-get-a-dog discussion: “I’m the voice of reason, you’re the voice of menopause.”

And your point is?

He’s 14″ (35.5 cm) high at the shoulders and weighs about 17 pounds (8 kilos). We named him Wiley cuz he has those disconcerting golden coyote eyes. And it suited his personality.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean frogblog will be turning into dogblog…

It was a coup de foudre (love at first sight).

You know I’ve been pining and scheming and (online) window shopping for a dog for a long time… So I had the closest shelter (forty minutes away by train) of the Société Protectrice des Animaux bookmarked and, at moments when I was feeling particularly dog deprived and courageous at the same time, I’d pop in and see if they had my dog yet.

Last Monday, he was there.


But I hesitated too long and found out today that other people got him. I was going back tomorrow to get him! I’m happy he has people, but I’m totally kicking myself right now. Vincent says the French are notorious for abandoning their pets during the summer vacations (bad, bad Froggies), and that I’ll have lots more dogs to choose from in the fall…

This little guy, Basile they called him, was a basset fauve de Bretagne, a French hound breed I’d never heard of. And I am a sucker for a hound, even though I grew up with poodles. The last dog I found online, fell in love with instantly, and subsequently rescued from a shelter was Virgil, a big, red hound dog (below, five years ago).

Obviously I also have a thing for redheaded dogs. My son’s a redhead; do you think I’m unconsciously trying to fill my empty nest with red dogs? Hmmm…


Anyway, last Monday I called the shelter to find out what the visiting hours were, and Tuesday morning I was there when the place opened. Was Basile a Virgil Mini Me? Well, in some ways, maybe. He’s a scent hound, like Virgil. Coonhounds traditionally hunt everything from raccoons to mountain lions, and bassets fauves hunt hares to wild boar… These are real dawgs.

(Biliana, the woman I spoke to at the shelter who is also a hound lover and has adopted four from the shelter herself, said “So you like difficult dogs?” and I answered “And men,” which made her laugh. Of course later, when I told Vincent about the exchange, he said indignantly “I’m not difficult!” which made me laugh.)


I took pics of Basile the day I went to meet him in the shelter. He wasn’t a run-up-and-lick-your-face dog, which worked for me in a big Anglo-Saxon way — I’m still not real comfy with the way the French run up and lick your face…

Oh well.

Where is Vincent in all this, you ask? Well, he’s conflicted. When we get a dog it’ll mean changes, expenses, the stresses of additional responsibility. All the practical things you might expect someone to worry about. He’s concerned about the potential for psychological damage in a shelter dog. But he is also a big-hearted guy who is as susceptible to the charm of a little creature in need as you could want him to be. So he is letting me make the dog call. My thinking is a dog is cheaper and easier than a teenager. And who isn’t damaged, I’d like to know?

refuges.jpg If you’ve been searching the web for a shelter animal to rescue in France, you’ve probably noticed an abominable lack of coordination among shelters and agencies, logic-defying website organization, inadequate information, and general incoherence.

(I hate to say it, but quelle surprise…)

However, I did find one site, Seconde chance, from which you can access 367 shelters in France, large and small, private and public.

On the home page, left column, you can enter info about your location and the kind of animal you want (optional), and you’ll get a list of shelters meeting your criteria. From there, you have address/contact info and a link to the animals you can adopt from a given shelter. You can also save a search (small dog in Paris) and receive e-mail alerts when new animals matching your search show up.

The shelters here are bursting at the seams. In this day and age it should be clear that buying a pedigreed puppy is unethical and environmentally incorrect. And besides, it’s ridiculously expensive. So if you are seriously thinking of getting a dog, get yourself, to quote my French step-daughter, “a used dog.” And if you have a coup de foudre, don’t hesitate. The little ones go fast.

Bonus: a good article for potential pooch parents by Paris-based dog mom and travel writer, Heather Stimmler-Hall.

Today I learned that June is the American Humane Society’s Adopt-A-Cat-Month. I discovered this in the middle of my daily moment of zen, which I really needed after translating 3,000 words on Internet censorship, sending out a reminder to Francophilia members that they only have five days to buy their tickets to the FrancoParty next week, and some other stuff.

I have mentioned in the past that I need the LOLcats for my mental health. And it cheered me up even more than usual when I saw today that ICanHasCheezBurger and PetFinder have teamed up to promote cat adoptions this month.

They’ve made it fun and interactive too. If you’ve ever been tempted to do a LOLcat of your own but haven’t quite known where to start, it’s as easy as 1-2-3-4 this month:

1. Go to PetFinder and find yourself a cat picture.

2. Click the link below the cat picture that says Add to

3. Fill in the fields in the LOL Builder next to the picture.

4. Click Save & Submit.

And you get your own LOLcat. The one I did (below) isn’t clever, and I don’t think I’ve mastered LOL language, but I was willing to humiliate myself for the cause. I hope this guy gets a cheeseburger machine of his own.

Four million cats end up in shelters in the US every year. (And France wins the prize for the most abandoned animals in Europe. Bad, bad Froggies…) So almost every day I almost adopt a dog or a cat. It really won’t be long now, I promise.

My only problem with cats (other than that they walk on your counters and their hair gets everywhere) is that they have an alarming tendency to sleep on your keyboard. But I may yet succumb…

If you make a LOLcat, send me the link. Pleez.

And don’t breed or buy while shelter animals die. Pleez.


When the people upstairs go out and can’t take their dog with them, he cries and cries and cries.

Since we work at home all day, Vincent gets very annoyed. He needs to be able to concentrate on those heavy-duty translations he does (Microsoft, IBM, Nokia, a bunch of other household names, and the holy of holies, Apple). And then there are the evenings when we’re trying to watch TV. Of course, I say it’s not the dog’s fault, he’s a pack animal and needs to be with his peeps.

About two years ago, when they got him, I volunteered to dog sit if they ever needed it since, as you know, I lost my Virgil in the divorce and am sorely dog deprived. And the other day, I cornered them in the stairs and essentially said it was getting to be a problem.

So they finally took me up on my offer and we got to dog sit last night!

Meet Kleuzo (photo from Vincent’s iPhone). A handsome French poodle with very nice moustache à la gauloise. I thought his name was Clouseau (which is totally something I would name a poodle), but I was mistaken.

A lovely time was had by all. Especially me. I have a poodled past.


I got an e-mail from my sister-in-law, one of those that had been forwarded multiple times by people who haven’t yet figured out how to use the BCC field. I had to click down into it to get to the original message, which was in 72-point lime green Comic Sans, with hard returns in the oddest places, like so many of these things… But because it was from my sister-in-law, who always sends good stuff, and because the subject line was “Free food for homeless animals,” I bothered.

I was really glad I did. The very perky message promised it would only take me 20 seconds and one click of a purple button to help feed shelter animals. So I conjured up some kibble with a click:


I then decided to dig a little deeper and share what I found, since the e-mail also asked recipients to forward it to 10 friends. But I opted for this, a sans Comic Sans alternative.

It’s a fundraising site for six very worthy causes, but you don’t actually have to spend any money to help. Click once on the special button at the top of each organizations’ page, and their sponsors will increase their donations.


I went to the other sites (all in a row of tabs at the top of the page) and pushed their buttons too. I helped protect 11.4 square feet of rainforest, helped a needy woman get a free mammogram, helped a kid get medical care, got 1.1 cups of food for someone, and helped someone else learn to read. Magic!

There are other free ways to help: e-cards, signing up for their newsletters, linking to them from your blog, and more. Each site also has its own online store where you can get logo items and also buy free trade products. I fell in love with the Global Girlfriend brand “Pondichery jacquard embroidered tote” on the Animal Rescue Site, and the purple paw logo items were cute as can be. Needless to say, part of the profits go to support the organizations. So next time you need to find a gift, avoid the conventional corporate route and head over to this site. Also in the left column, where are all the products are listed, look for the “Gifts that give more” link (not on every site), which allows you to donate money directly for various things.

You’re allowed one click a day on each button, and they’ve kindly set up an e-mail reminder service if you need help remembering or getting motivated to stop by and click!

Please help spread the word! And thanks Cindy! :-*


After the great victory, Vincent and I were talking about Obama’s various proposals, what he’d realistically be able to do, what the priorities should be… The usual. I then made the mistake of saying that I couldn’t wait to find out about what kind of dog the First Girlies would be getting.

This prompted major eye-rolling on Vincent’s part. He’s always saying we Americans care more about our pets than we do about people. Maybe. I told him that the First Pet is important to Americans. I never really thought about why, though. Maybe it’s that having a pet humanizes the president, which is obviously something Americans need more than the French, who seem to prefer that their leaders remain securely atop pedestals ensconced within ivory towers. (One reason why they have such a problem with Ségolène Royal if you ask me. She’s too real for them. But we think she rocks.)

Of course, then there was Obama’s press conference, during which we got a hint. Vincent was baffled by the whole hypoallergenic dog thing, never having heard of such a concept, not surprisingly. (The French are just not as clinical about things as we are.) He expressed his bafflement, and I said poodles were considered hypoallergenic because they didn’t shed, but that I didn’t know of any other breeds that were.

It appears the French are also curious about the dog, although some of the snooty intellectuals are ridiculing this plebeian obsession with the next Dog of the Free World.

I am a dog person. Cats are immensely cool, and I’d get a kick out of having one (except that they walk on your kitchen counters, and I have an all-American hygiene issue). I love the lolcats. But I am not a cat person.

I grew up with dogs. Poodles, to be precise (my poodle history). I had a beautiful (rescued) redbone coonhound the last few years I was married, but I lost him in my divorce. Broke my heart, but my escape entailed serious residential downsizing and Virgil had to stay where he would have a yard. He was a big boy (80 pounds of pure love).

Since then, I’ve had to get my dog fix in other ways. When I became single, I moved a block away from Dog Beach in San Diego, so I could surround myself with other people’s dogs and revel in their surf-and-frisbee frenzy. There’s a dog in the novel I’m writing. Sassy used to post regular Yuki news, but she has major stuff going on, so I have to do without for now. However, my pal La Belette Rouge is on the verge of becoming a dog mom it seems. I’m looking forward to that.

Paris is crawling with Yorkies, Jack Russells and Bichons. Those seem to be the hot breeds of the bourgeois. Designer dogs to go with their designer clothes. I can walk to pet-store row (over by the Louvre) in 10 minutes, and I do, every now and then for a dose of dog. But it can be depressing too. (There I go again.) I would never buy a dog from a breeder or pet store. (Bumper sticker brainwashing: Don’t breed or buy while shelter dogs die.)

According to the Humane Society, six to eight million dogs enter shelters each year in the US and about half of them are gassed.

Not acceptable.

A few months ago, I started seriously thinking about getting a dog and cruising the shelter pages here in Paris. They don’t make it easy for you to adopt dogs here. Shelters are far outside of the city and since I, like most Parisians, don’t have a car, that limits my options. But I’ll find a way when the time comes. I’ve browsed craigslist and kijiji a few times in search of dogs, but it’s incredibly time consuming and a major pain in the ass.

There are so many ways to keep dogs from being disposed of like used Kleenex if you can’t adopt one yourself. You can make contributions to your local shelter, or volunteer. You could buy a sexy calendar from Pinups for Pups


Miss September, Angela Ryan, and Ella—who was rescued.

Recently, there was a geek contest called Rails Rumble 2008, which is a challenge for developers to create an application using Ruby on Rails in 48 hours. One of the resulting applications from this year’s Rumble is called Forever Home. I think it’s brilliant. Incredibly clean, simple and attractive user interface. And for a good cause.


I went to the site and entered my old zip code in San Diego (it only works for the US and Canada at the moment) and there were 79 pages of dogs that need homes (it only works for dogs right now too). If you’re looking for a dog, that’s exciting. (But when I think that many, if not most of these people impulsively and frivolously got dogs to begin with, it really pisses me off.)

Our dear Polly of Polly-Vous Français ? is leaving Paris for a time. (She’ll be back, I’m certain of it.) But for now, she has to find a home for Lou-Lou, her goldfish. If only Lou-Lou were a dog… Polly has some fabulous stuff she needs to unload, so if you live in Paris, take a look at this site and help Polly purge. Don’t wait! She’s leaving this month!