Pirate On Board: Adopting A Senior Dog In France


Hiya guys, hope you’re all happy and healthy. 

(And if you are neither of these things, I hope you know that you are loved in all your cycles and phases.)

I think most of you have realised by now that we adopted a dog a couple of weeks ago. Lots of you have been asking for more details about how this giant ball of love ended up in our lives, so I thought I’d give you a quick update!

I’ve been wanting to adopt a dog for years, but I wanted to wait until I had some more financial security. Now that my writing career is more stable, the time finally came around!

We were hoping for a puppy, because I do a lot of seasonal work around horses and I wanted to teach the dog not to get under hooves or chase after livestock. But I drove to the pound in Normandy, France with an open mind. We’d just see what happened!

Of course, the first dog I saw was a 30kg, 6 year old mongrel. (With a lot of Rottweiler and Labrador in him.) As soon as I saw him in that concrete kennel, I couldn’t resist taking him for a walk. Despite being locked in a small cage in the cold over winter, he was remarkably calm and gentle. 

The sad thing is that the pound was really bare. Each dog had a small concrete kennel with hardly any blankets and it was bloody cold. The happy thing is that there were only around 6 dogs there because so many families had been in to adopt recently.

The man himself, feeling a bit nervous when he first joined the family.

As soon as he came out of his cage, Pirate was eager to please me and walked right by my heel, like he knew that making a good impression was important. After a night to sleep on it, we came back to the pound and took him home. 

It was scarily easy to adopt from the pound in France. We paid an adoption fee of 150 euros in cash and gave our name and parents’ address. I think it’s more expensive and complicated if you adopt from a traditional refuge, because they want to do home visits and check your salary. 

Considering Pirate was abandoned by the road by his previous owner, we thought it would take him a long time to trust again, but he is just delighted with every person and dog that he meets. 

We basically hit the jackpot. 

We take him everywhere with us and all our friends and family are amazed by how sensible he is. He can be trusted inside people’s homes, and just walks around at my heel and then curls into a ball to sleep whenever I sit down to eat or work. 

When I walk up any stairs, he runs over to my side and ‘helps me up.’

He walks super slowly and with great determination, grunting with effort until we get to the top. Then he gives me a tail wag and trots off. Hilariously, when I’m not walking up the stairs with him, he runs up and down them in a flash. 

Chilling out at our family’s place

On a recent walk, three dogs escaped from a farm and surrounded us. They were barking right in his face and I thought oh crap, this is going to get nasty. But what does Pirate do? He looks up at me quietly, like he wants to know how to respond.

I said, “ignore them, love.” 

Just like that, he glued himself to my side and refused to engage, blanking the dogs as we walked away. 

Pirate has brought so much joy to our lives already. After a couple weeks training with him we can take him off the lead and trust him to come back whenever we call him. We’ve been exploring forests every day and he can’t get enough. 

He also had some health issues that went untreated at the pound, so we’ve spent a couple hundred euros on medications since we got him. Seeing him transform from a withdrawn boy with dull fur and dead skin into a happy, confident dog with a shiny coat is worth every cent. 

We purposefully chose a calmer dog because we travel in the van and didn’t want him to get overwhelmed. I take him for three long walks a day, so whenever I’m working inside he just sleeps quietly by my side. 

A ball of love with four legs!

Why didn’t we want to buy a puppy?

In the UK, there has been a 25% increase in abandoned dogs in recent months. (At the same time that the price of a puppy has gone up by 131% because lots of people decided to adopt during confinement). Here in France, more than 100,000 dogs and cats are abandoned every year! (SPA) 

It just didn’t feel right to fund the breeding of puppies when this is going on, especially considering purebred dogs tend to have health issues because they are so inbred. For example, Pugs are famous for respiratory diseases and German Shepherds frequently have their back legs collapse on them. 

Sure, puppies are cute, but they are going to turn into dogs sooner than we can blink. And I’d rather give a home to a dog that has been abandoned than encourage people to keep breeding new puppies. That’s especially true in the case of puppy mills, where female dogs have a horrendous life, almost like being a battery chicken but producing puppies instead of eggs. 

Even though puppy mills are technically banned in the UK, they still exist. And puppy smuggling gangs are still active, meaning British families often think they’re buying a puppy from a loving family breeder, when they’re actually buying a puppy from an abused foreign dog. 

Up to 400,000 farmed puppies are unknowingly sold to the British public every year. (Nature Watch)

Yes they’re lovely, but they are living beings not handbags…

This information is in no way meant to make anyone feel guilty, and I’m not trying to virtue signal. I just wanted to share this information because a lot of people simply don’t realise that adopting is a viable option. 

I was so scared myself that adopting an older dog would be too much of a handful. Actually, I found the opposite. I got a well trained dog that is past his chewing stage, has never had an accident indoors and who is so grateful to have a home. I do think it’s important to be present when you have a dog, especially a rescue. 

Luckily I work remotely, so it means that Pirate can have all the reassurance he needs until he realises I’m never going to dump him back on the roadside. Adopting an older dog has been easier and simpler than I could imagine, and it brings me so much joy to see him happy. 

That doesn’t mean it’s always this simple though, and I highly recommend this book if you are thinking about adopting. I read it before getting Pirate and it’s been really helpful.

I hope you enjoyed this article!

You might also like to read:

If you are interested in living a more sustainable and simple life, you can check out the Highly Sensitive Nomad eBook. 

And if you want to stay up to date, you can go over to my Instagram or Twitter, or follow this blog using the box below. Thanks for your time!

Published by rph_writer

Freelance writer and Journalist. Author of Highly Sensitive Nomad.

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