All summer long we’ve breakfasted on our balcony overlooking the forest at the back of our building which is particularly popular with the Domaine’s dog owners for early morning walkies. We know many of the dogs by sight, some by name, but during the summer months there are also a lot of visitors and their canine companions. The dogs’ antics keep us amused while we’re eating and provides an enjoyable start to the day. The other week, we realised we hadn’t seen one of our elderly neighbours who has a very excitable small dog called Titti, very much a pampered pooch, for a while. In recent months, neither Titti nor his owner have enjoyed particularly good health, hence our concern.
I resolved to ask one of two people if they knew anything: our guardian or the lady from the block opposite who provides cleaning and general assistance to a number of flat owners in our block. Both are usually reliable sources of information about the health and welfare of our block’s occupants. When we first moved in almost 13 years ago, many were very spritely octogenarians but as time has passed, they’ve become rather frail, a number have sadly died or don’t get out and about as much as they used to. Though there are a few, examples to us all, who seem indestructible.
Titti’s owner is not one of these. She’s shown me photos of her former life. A stunning looking woman in her heyday who certainly doesn’t look her age now. She was formerly married to two fabulously wealthy gentlemen. The first one died and she divorced the second, the father of her two daughters. But she appears to have been ill-advised when it came to negotiating her divorce settlement. Her current 1,000 sq ft flat must be a bit of a come down from the 13,000 sq ft one she used to occupy in Rome and, sadly, she’s a glass half empty rather than half-full type.
When anyone in the Domaine dies, it’s normal to post an announcement on the front door of each block with details of the funeral arrangements. I’m not keen on attending funerals, I’ve attended far too many of late. I’ve only been to one in France and found it deeply distressing even though I’d only once met the deceased. It was a very emotional affair. I saw a notice recently but fortunately it was only about a lost cat. My heart was in my mouth when I saw it from afar as my downstairs neighbour, a lady now in her late-nineties, is slowly slipping away after recently breaking her leg – the same injury as my beloved. However, despite an operation to repair it, she’s now bed-ridden and has already lost much of her vision. She’s well-cared for in her own home but she wants to die. She’s told me so. And I sympathise, without one’s health, old-age is surely a bummer.
Finally, I bumped into Titti’s owner in the lift who is now sporting a fluffy white, equally excitable dog. She advised me that Titti was now in the big kennel in the sky. I sympathised and petted Titti II. Lots of our elderly neighbours have small dogs. It’s a reason to get up and out in the morning and, if you’ve got a dog, people are seemingly happy to stop and chat, particularly other dog owners. Others have large dogs such as a Retriever, German Shepherd, Labrador, Weimerar and even a Dalmatian which must be quite challenging in a small flat. There are no medium-sized dogs, or at least, none that I’m aware of, calling the Domaine home.
My beloved would love a dog though it would have to be a large one as he’s unwilling to be seen out with some of the small, fluff balls favoured by many of our neighbours. I think he feels it would be affront to his masculinity. For example, while out walking recently, we passed a large guy with fulsome beard and plenty of tattoos walking a duo of teeny-weeny dogs. Of course, he could’ve been a dog-walker or doing someone, such as his Mum, a favour. My beloved was very dismissive. However, much as I love dogs, a love which is reciprocated, we’re not having one because I know only too well who’d be looking after it – yours truly!
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