The phone rang - a mobile number, so I answered cautiously as some are cold callers even though I’ve asked for no publicity calls: companies here obey the code of practice for telesales about as much as they do in the UK. It was Raymonde, a woman I’ve known since my first few dog shows here. I once used one of her stud dogs and remember having lunch in her kitchen surrounded by 30+ Cavaliers and a Bichon Havanese, she had later stayed at our house for a few days in the hopes of mating one of her bitches who clearly wasn’t ready to a dog I then had! “I’m not phoning for me,” she said, “but for Collette, who bought a bitch from me some years ago and has a descendant from whom she wants to breed. She asked if I knew of a stud dog not too far from her, and I thought of the rather nice boy you brought to the Pays de la Loire reunion, I know he passed his health tests that day.” I told her that although I thought Maxim would be willing, judging on his behaviour when I’ve had bitches in season, he is still a virgin so I could not guarantee that a mating would take place, let alone be successful. She said she’d relay that information to her friend, and then told me more: Collette is a “pet owner” who breeds the occasional litter from a nice bitch and that her dogs, like ours, live in the house and if she sells puppies is very careful about the homes they go to – although she has been known to keep an entire (small) litter. She lives in the Landes region, a bit south of here. Raymonde asked a few questions about Maxim’s show career and when I said the names of a couple of judges who’d given him the CAC or reserve, said that was good, clearly judges whose opinion she trusted. She thought Max looked a nice dog when she saw him those few weeks ago, although I confess that on that day none of my dogs were very well groomed, just brushed and combed! She’d noticed Maxim when Clemence, the little girl who’d appointed herself my helper that day, had taken his lead to walk with me from one part of the hall to another and he moved well, although she didn’t realise that he belonged to me until Clemence handed me his lead and I put him in the crate with the others. It was pleasant to hear that she was looking at dogs with an interested eye! I remember one renowned UK judge who said that he liked to look at dogs when their handlers weren’ t aware….. Now I anticipate Collette to phone or e-mail.

Jane