Biff arrived the Friday before Christmas with a bottle of pink champagne and his kit bag packed for a week long stay. Ten days later he is still here and I don't want him to go. ‘He’s got charm to spare,’ as one of my friends puts it.
On Christmas day I took him to the The Man’s house where he enjoyed a turkey dinner and entertained the other guests (I was a little put out when he curled up at the feet of a stranger.) We have also trekked for hours through the countryside together and been on numerous outings to the local café/bookshop, where he charmed the socks off all present. In fact, we have been inseparable since he arrived. He follows me from room to room, gazing at me with complete adoration and even managing to look transfixed as I do the washing up.
Biff - or Beeef as my French neighbours call him - is a small rescue dog of mixed parentage, black as a YSL smoking and with eyes like jet beads. The Man refers to him a ‘the little gorilla’ because of his big black paws and was not pleased when he ate his mobile phone charger. (I was not pleased when I had to join the Soviet style queue at the Orange Shop in Poitiers in order to replace it.) Biff also gets up a bit too early for my liking but I have quickly got used to being dragged through the countryside at first light. Biff is happy to walk for hours and is fond of the finer things in life, including fresh crab and guinea fowl.
When I lived in London I once went to Battersea dogs home and answered a detailed questionnaire about my personality and lifestyle in order to find my four-legged soul-mate. It turned out to be an enormous, depressed greyhound called Alan. This surprised me as a) I lived in a top floor flat with no outdoor space b) I had been hoping for something sleek and racy like a Viszla or bold and charismatic like an English bull terrier. Surely a mistake, I thought, as I peered at the listless Alan through a window. But when I queried it, I was told that greyhounds don’t need much space or exercise - they just like human company. I felt bad for not offering Alan a home but I wasn't convinced that he was my perfect match.
Biff however, is. I was worried that he might be high maintenance and that I would have to follow him around all day removing shoes and handbags from his mouth. But in fact he is happy to lie under my desk for hours while I work. As I write, it is New Year's Eve and he is lying contentedly at my feet, nibbling away at my broadband wires. Yes, I'm going to be very sad indeed when his owners, Frances and David come to collect him at the weekend.