We have two dogs; Tasha and Abbie, twelve and three years old. They are basset hounds. Bassets are not the intellectuals of the dog world. They have a learning disability, they are developmentally challenged. To be quite frank and politically incorrect, bassets are a bit thick.
The intelligence of eighty breeds is listed in descending order on this site. The English border collie is number one. Bassets claw their way onto the bottom of the list at seventy-one. The breed needs 100-500 repetitions of a new commend. Even then, they’ll only obey any command which they’re supposed to know 20% of the time. Bassets won’t do as they’re told often or even at all, and they look ridiculous. Built like the trailer of an articulated lorry, and with too large paws supporting too short legs, their stomachs often brush the ground as they walk. So do their ears. The easiest way for Cynthia to sweep the Hymer’s floor area is to ask big eared Abbie to plod from the bathroom to the driver’s seat a few times. Not that she does as she’s told when asked.
On the plus side, and it’s a big enough plus to negate all of their perceived faults, bassets are loveable, calm, and so full of character that it’s difficult to look at one without smiling. Tasha and Abbie fit very well into our nomadic lifestyle.
They’re big dogs – Abbie is sixty-five pounds of solid muscle – in a small space. Dogs, especially low-slung hounds, get dirty. They need cleaning. We don’t have enough space to clean and dry them on board, which is why, yesterday, Abbie and Tasha spent nearly three hours being washed in a mobile dog-grooming van in Peyriac-de-Mer’s tiny Thursday market.
When Cynthia discovered her last winter, Charline Trettel’s new A Flair’ Allure canine care business offered a dirt cheap wash and dry service and had an almost empty diary. Her business is very different this year. We needed to book a session in advance and pay €30 (£26.35) a dog, a 50% increase on last year’s €20 (£17.56) fee.
Still, while Abbie raced ahead on our evening romp through the hills above Peyriac, at least I could track her by following the scent of freshly shampooed fur.