Angel the Nomad
Angel must have nomadic genes. She loves to travel. It would have been hell for her in the puppy farm just being confined, let alone all the other hideous aspects of that existence. She most likely didn’t see daylight, let alone breathe the clear air of the great outdoors for over 5 years. She couldn’t have stretched her legs more than a tiny bit. As we get to know each other better, I understand that being restricted to a few grubby square meters for a dog who’s embracing her freedom with astounding obviousness, must have been hell.
For Angel loves to be on the move. She isn’t nervously fidgeting, or anxiously pacing, she simply enjoys pottering about. Or trotting along on a walk, invariably up ahead. Where her sisters and brother pause to sniff and savour the local aromas of grassy verges or muddy paths, she takes a swift dip with her nose and then she’s off. Continuing on her way, walking, or more often, jogging along. Little distracts Angel from going where she’s going.
Which is someplace up ahead of where we all usually are. She leads. I let her. I love it. She has earned this freedom to stretch her legs and angel wings and be whoever she wants to become in this world.
Angel’s arrival in our life coincided with our decision to be on the move ourselves. Shortly after Angel came to live in France with us, we collected a campervan – we’d been waiting months for it. The timing was interesting. Especially knowing now how appealing van-life is to Angel. Serendipitous.
But she’s just one of 4. What of the others?
Albert Claude is a bundle of energy needing an outlet. He loves jumping into the van, out again, back in and out again until I secure him. Life’s a game for Albert. This is just the newest addition to his box of toys. He travels well. Renae, confident, ‘seen-it-all-before’ Renae is trustingly adaptable. I’m sure she considers it a tent on the move. She approves, so long as walks, soft beds and treats are part of this lark.
Now there’s Cerise. Cerise has not taken to it easily. It’s a small space in which we’re all confined. She resists being in forced close contact. But she does enjoy proximity on her terms. We know she can accept being a few inches away from us if she chooses it. One reason we decided on this new idea for spending time was that we know camping helped Twinkle and Susie-Belle accept being physically close to us. Our open-plan home means Cerise has never had to accept a tighter shared space. This is one of the challenges of campervan life for her.
It’s also not as quiet as the car. She has always been 100% at ease in our car. Her unease in the van has many causes. Bumpy roads were especially unnerving for her in our early days out.
But following a few weeks of targeted and regular work with her, Cerise has now accepted that the van is part of our life. And it means fun. It leads to walks in new places, lots of treats with all of us together in one place – there’s no getting away for any of us once we’re sardined in. It’s snug.
It’s taken a fair bit of effort on her part, lots of treats, careful timing and observation for Cerise to accept what Angel’s known from day one – that this addition to our life has lots of potential for good times ahead. Michel in particular has been busy nurturing and comforting her when we’re on the move – I’m the driver.
France is a beautiful country. Although a lack of cows, donkeys, sheep, horses, people, dogs, bicyles or other moving objects, in vast empty landscapes means it’s charms are sometimes lost on the dogs.
We recently had a 3 night trip away – our longest, our first big test. Michel had an appointment in Montpellier he had to make and with France’s train system paralysed by strikes, we decided to go for it. To head south, over 500km south – and back again. It would be a sort of kill or cure for Cerise, for us all. We had to make it work. And we did. It did mean stopping every 5 or 10 minutes for long, long stretches. It took us over twice as long as the ETA on each stage of the plan. But it was fine in the end. We worked it out. With some fretty bumps along the way for Cerise that we got through together. Thank goodness we’re doing this in France – a country that’s well set up for campervan life. The smallest village almost always has a good place to park up and rest Cerise.
It’s a whole new experience for us all. We’re adjusting to it in our individual ways. It’s only really Angel who’s the natural.