Everything in the French countryside is closed on a Monday. Shops, hotels, restaurants. Stomachs empty we stop and have a microwaved sandwich and a cup of instant coffee at a service station in a tiny village. In addition to the service station the village has a perfectly preserved 14th century row of houses ( more like a film set than any film set could ever be ) , a church housing a particularly sternfaced statue of Jean of Arc , the remaining tower of a long demolished castle and a bandstand. Mysteriously there is not a soul to be seen .
Bob has spent his morning trying to dig his way out from the pen. His nose and muzzle are coated in mud. Nothing shy about this boy. He lollops across to see us tail wagging. That ungainly gait of a puppy who's coming to terms with the difficult task of getting four paws to move in unison. His sister Sophie is curled up against the fence hoping that if she keeps her eyes closed she'll be invisible. Bob walks back and puts a proprietorial paw on her shoulders. When I pick Sophie up he lets out a '' what do you think you're doing " yelp. Who could believe that there could be two such different characters from the same litter ? Sophie is going to be a charmer.
While Angus chats to Sophie ' the font ' deals with the paperwork. The breeder has invited over the owner of the pups father. The father is five and the mother is eight. The father works on a farm where he shares the herding with a Catalan sheepdog called Jose. The mother was a showgirl and didn't have her first litter until she was six. This is her third and last. No need for us to worry that she's tired out.