This barn looks like a pretty nice place - can I really come and stay?
There are a few exceptions but basically yes, you'll be very welcome so long as you're well trained, you get on well with other dogs and you're no bigger than a large labrador. You'll need to bring a human with you of course.
Hmm - exceptions, eh? ... I knew it was too good to be true!
Well, it's like this. There aren't any fences or enclosures around the barn so if you like escaping this really isn't the right place for you; and there are always chickens, sheep and other livestock nearby so if you're a chaser it's honestly not a good idea either. We prefer you to be over a year old though if you're younger and crate trained that's fine. And this almost certainly won't apply but if you live in France and are listed as Class 1 or 2 then I'm sorry but we can't accept you (nothing personal).
FOR THE HUMANS:
BRINGING YOUR DOG, IN A NUTSHELL
GOOD TO KNOW ...
What do I need to bring with me?
Well, you’ll need to bring your bed, your food and water bowls and of course your favourite toy if you have one. We suggest that you bring your own towels, and perhaps some throws to cover the sofas and chairs if (like Noodles) you like to rub along them to dry yourself.
If you normally sleep in a cage, don’t forget to pack that too. And you’ll need a lead, even if like most of our doggy guests you’re well trained, because there are parts of the Pyrenees where sheep, cattle and horses roam at liberty in the summer and by law you have to be on a lead if you’re walking there. (Have you ever encountered an angry Ariégeois shepherd? Ask Noodles to tell you about them – believe me, you really don’t want to upset one!).
We do have a plastic bed, various blankets, a rug and a spare lead if you need them.
Do I have to pay?
Your humans will pay for their own holiday, but we’ll ask them for a donation of a minimum of 40 euros as a nod to the extra time we have to spend cleaning after you leave. Yes, I know you’re a super-clean dog and I know your humans will clean up your hairs, your mud, and all the grass and unmentionables you'll inevitably get covered in before you come inside ... but we have to be absolutely neurotic to make sure that no incoming guests will smell you, or see even a single one of your hairs (you may laugh, but it’s true).
People who aren't owned by dogs tend to be hyper-vigilant for any evidence of a dog’s presence, you see, and our job is to make sure that they don't know you've ever been here. We don’t keep the money though – we donate it to one of the dog charities we support.
This year again we’re supporting Twilight Chiens, an amazing 'retirement home' for elderly dogs in the Dordogne run by Leeanne and Mike, who care for up to 30 dogs in their own home . They also run and subsidise an outreach/fostering programme. We'll use your donation to sponsor one of their dogs for a year, and will match it with an equivalent donation of our own. We'll send you a photo of the dog your donation has sponsored.
Can my humans leave me behind when they go out?
Generally, no – lots of dogs get upset if they’re on their own in a strange place and their people are out. The exception is if you’re happy and content to stay in your own cage, and you aren’t going to howl or make a fuss.
On some days it might be possible for you to hang out with us and Noodles if your humans have got something they need to do without you, and if you (and they) would be okay with that. We like having doggy company so don’t be shy about asking.
What about restaurants though? I like going out to eat!
Then you’re in the right country. Not many restaurants or cafés will be off-limits, whether you sit inside or out – the French are very cool about it and you’ll always see other dogs, especially in the summer. Lots of places will automatically bring you a bowl of water too, but if they don’t, just woof for one.
Are there cats (yum)?
No. We don't have - or accept - cats here, so there'll be no yowling or chasing. Your four legged companion will be Noodles, a Labrit (Pyrenean sheepdog) of 'a certain age' who lives with us next door and whose main interests in life are playing with yellow squeaky hedgehogs and stalking moles and lizards.