I’d spent most of Monday at the funeral of a friend – sadly something that happens more and more frequently these days. When I got home and emptied my post box, there was a note which began “Bonjour, c’est Phillippe, le poissonier” “Hello, it’s Phillippe, the fishmonger” asking me if I could phone him on the mobile number he gave. I’d not seen him for a while, but phoned and he said he understood that I had a microchip reader, which I do, and then asked if he could possibly borrow it for a day. I said yes and he collected it on Tuesday morning: he’d lost the paperwork on dog of his and needed he number to request duplicate copies. He returned it Wednesday evening, telling me that he is now suffering from a type of arthritis and is no longer working. I had noticed that the mobile fish van hadn’t been round recently, but thought it was because his main customers no longer live here: one died, one moved away and one is in a nursing home. I bought the reader when the French Cavalier Club had arranged a cheaper than usual price for members: it has been useful when selling puppies, I read the chip and show the new owner that it is indeed the same number as on the pup’s birth certificate. This is very useful for black and tans and rubies where there is a tendency for them to look very similar, but someone I knew had a litter of Blenheim puppies and once one of her new owners contacted her very annoyed as they’d taken their pup for rabies vaccine and the vet had checked the chip and told them it wasn’t the one on their dog’s paperwork so refused to vaccinate! She realised how the mistake had happened, and contacted the people who had bought another puppy and would have the paperwork for this dog and managed to swap the paperwork over and alter the details on the sale contracts, but subsequently both sets of owners had to transfer their ownership officially, and they weren’t too thrilled. My neighbour Fréderic knows I have the reader: he used it when selling a litter of almost identical red (brown) Dobermann puppies. Another family in the area also know: one of them borrowed it and kept it for almost a year! I had to really nag them to get it back when Hula’s last litter was born! Possibly Fred mentioned it to Phillippe, but this is the sort of community where eveyone knows everyone else’s business. Tom used to joke about our neighbour Huguette (now in a nursing home) “Telegraph, telephone, tell Huguette.”

This morning I was woken by the doorbell and there was Phillippe. “Sorry to disturb you again” he said, I was a bit dishevelled, in pyjamas, dressing gown and bare feet, “But could I possibly borrow the reader again? I found a stray dog outside my house this morning, a little Westie, quite friendly so if I check her chip I can phone ICAD and ask for the address of the owners.” I said nothing about that, as it is the duty of a local mayor’s or vet’s office to do that and usually ICAD won’t divulge information to private people, but I lent him the reader anyway. He promised to return it tomorrow. He had looked into buying one, but they are not cheap: the one I have is now 152€, although there are cheaper and more basic models that start at about 68€.

After he’d gone I let the dogs out: they had, of course been woken by the bell and I admit it was nearer 9 than 8 – I’d gone to bed late, poor excuse, and am not generally a very early riser! They looked at me a bit askance and I could imagine them thinking "hasn't she bothered to get dressed?"