Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Puppies - real and manufactured

It's winter here in France and always seems interminable. I know in two to three months temperatures will improve. We haven't had a snowfall this winter, for the first time since I arrived in this country, and it seems a little milder. May that continue. While I'm waiting for the climate to warm up a bit so I can start working on my balcony garden for this summer, I decided to visit the garden centre and do a spot of window shopping. Yes, it was too soon. Yes the selection was limited, except in two particular areas. I arrived during the weekend puppy sales. I'm not a doggy person and the only dog I tolerate is Baika, JC's hunting dog who loves it when I arrive there. These puppies didn't seem to be your average mutt even if some of them weren't particularly pretty.

Such a wide range of breeds, lots of cuties, some stroppy ones and all VERY expensive. I couldn't believe the prices; 600-900 euros each, that's about NZ$927-1400. Breeds such as bulldogs, beagles, silkies, spaniels and others I couldn't recognise. The whole shop smelt of doggy urine despite their living conditions being clean. I cruised past the gerbils, rats and hamsters busily excavating mountains of shredded paper, on past the guinea pigs who weren't a patch on the ones I used to breed, rabbits and mice hiding in plastic houses. I carried on outside only to be met by yet more animals, much more hardy and exotic.
 There were many tortoises, zebras, reptiles, a gorilla, a penguin and even a polar bear. I seemed to have discovered the outdoor ornament section. Not a gnome to be found but all seven dwarves. No concrete sheep. Metal birds with stilt-like legs and even higher price tags eyed me as I stood rather nonplussed.

Do adults really pop these creations in their gardens? Isn't it rather incongruous in France to have a zebra instead of a fox resident on the parterre? Oh well, I whiled away a few minutes with this menagerie while JC was investigating large cheap plastic pots.

Clearly the garden centre staff were also desperate for some sort of change in the seasons because most nursery spaces were empty and they were resorting to forced bulbs, bows and glitter-sprayed orchids coloured blue. Yikes.

The bulbs looked lovely but they don't last long and then I'd have nowhere to put them in a couple of weeks. I kept my hand on my wallet as I moved through the store with nary a backward glance at the yipping puppies. I hope the flesh and blood and fibreglass critters all find loving and responsible homes.

God help me though if next weekend it's kitten sale week. I'd choke up, I know I would, because I can't have a pet with my current precarious lifestyle, but I want one. I hope one day I can have a cat once again, before my life expectancy is less than the cat's. For nowt i looks like I'll have to be content with a fibreglass toucan.


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