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book coverAlmost French

Book Review - Excerpt 3
Continued from page 3

A dog's life in Paris

"Where I grew up, dogs are dogs. Their lives consisted of modest pleasures like long walks and boisterous ball games. A night out meant guarding the house. But in Paris, a city of roughly two hundred thousand dogs (an incredible number when you consider there are no backyards and only pocket-size parks) canines lead lives that are remarkably similar to their masters. They stay in châteaux-hotels and have expensive haircuts. A night out means dressing up and dining at fine restaurants.What makes this unrestrained spoiling even more bizarre is that it's totally at odds with the strict discipline the French mete out to their kids. While children are expected to sit rod-straight at restaurants, eating and conversing like little grown-ups, dogs are babied and indulged, perched on velvet stools and hand-fed from plates.

photo"...Suddenly [after acquiring a dog] I have an identity. To the local commerçants, I'm no longer an anonymous foreigner. I am the maman de Maddie. This title carries street cred. Shop assistants who had previously ignored me now smile as they surreptitiously slide her a corner of croissant. The fromager calls her in for a chunk of Gruyère; Pierre blows her boozy kisses from across the street. Napoléon--who has never once asked how I am--enquires after Maddie every time he cycles by. In a city where establishing contact with strangers is notoriously difficult, suddenly it seems everyone wants to talk to me because of my dog."

Sarah Turnbull
Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris

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