At least once a year we end up temporarily housing a hunting dog overnight. Lost ones wander along and hang around. At the moment we have a very sweet spaniel-something-cross in the horse box. She turned up on Saturday night and woofed loudly for a while around our stables (I think the llamas scared her). We stomped out in nightwear and wellies with – it was very late – and tracked her down. She had a phone number on her collar, which I rang, but it went through to the messagerie. I’ve texted as well, but still no-one’s turned up. Now, there were sounds of hunting going on rather late last night, possibly not legally, so maybe that’s why no-one has shown yet.

We’ve been taking her for walks round the farm to avoid accumulating too much poop in the horsebox, and she’s as happy as anything, and very obliging. She has her nose glued to the ground sniffing up scents. She’s also pointed a couple of times – I’m not sure what at, but she was definitely pointing! Maybe the way home? It’s fun to see, as our Nessie is a sheepdog/Alsatian cross so pointing doesn’t come into her repertoire. Actually, not a lot does, apart from being joyful!

I’m beginning to wonder how long we’ll have to hang to this dog. I’m not sure what the official procedure is, if indeed there is one, for dealing with stray hunting dogs. I’ve contacted the owner several times, so I reckon I’ve done my part. I’ll phone the gendarmes and Maire today to report her presence. But I shan’t be too worried if we end up having to keep her, she’s very sweet natured. Our neighbours at Les Combes acquired their dog this way – a lost hunting dog who never got reclaimed. I think it happens quite frequently.

Of course, there’s an annoying side to it. It’s not acceptable to let your dog go wandering off out of control onto other people’s land. We wouldn’t let Nesse roam. I currently have four pregnant llamas and alpacas, a young and still very small alpaca (Elrond, or Mutton Chops as he’s been nicknamed), free-ranging rabbits and chickens, and three cats. Intruding hunting dogs could easily upset them, or worse. We lost three cats last year, and we’re beginning to wonder if they were picked off by hounds. Generally, llamas aren’t bothered by visiting dogs, but alpacas are rather stress-prone and apt to miscarry if things get unpleasant.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens with our four-legged squatter!