I went to the Toulouse Show on Saturday, a breed specialty but quite a low entry. I put my cage near an English couple I’d first met at Bordeaux. Alan and Marilyn had been breeding and showing Springers for quite some time and fairly recently bought a pretty Blenheim, Royal Romance Kiss Me who was Best Puppy at this show and had been Best Baby at Bordeaux: Marilyn wanted a dog that could sit on her lap and they did well in finding a quality pup: Kiss Me came from Germany. After judging was over there was the usual “vin d’honneur”. The regional delegate wasn’t there, but had arranged for someone else to provide drinks and nibbles, which were substantial and delicious: quiches, cold meats and olive cake! Among the drinks was a bottle of champagne, and Marilyn poured me a small helping. I have to remember I’ll be driving home! Afterwards we were sitting chatting and a young woman came up and asked if we’d be prepared to take part in a survey. She is a student at the Veterinary school at Toulouse and a group of students are doing a thesis on weight and lifestyle of dogs. Each dog was weighed and its body profile assessed, according to a chart which I think we’ve probably all seen, from the rounded overweight to the dog which narrows too sharply behind the ribs and is clearly underweight. Melody is about the top limit for a “desirable” outline, so I must watch her diet. There was also a questionnaire: breed and age of the dog, diet, asking for the specific brand if applicable, exercise routine and living quarters: the girl looked moderately surprised when I said all my dogs live in the house: she did ask how many I had, although that wasn’t a question on the form. Another part was would the breeder be available to be contacted to ask the birth weight of the dog, I said no problem as I’d bred them.

Show dogs might not be really representative of dogs as a whole: they tend to be in better condition than a lot of pet dogs, but I could see that for the students having a large number of dogs in one place was a great chance to do a survey of large numbers and specific breeds. I shall look on the university website to see if the result is published.