A warm welcome for me and my Labrador Dinah

I took my Labrador with me for company. I had recently purchased a small cottage in Normandy and decided to spend a month there, decorating, etc. I knew no one in the area and for the first two or three days I felt a little lonely.

The garden is on the other side of a narrow lane, so my lovely Lab would sit on the back doorstep whilst I worked.

One day, I realised that she was no longer there and I rushed out into the lane to find her. I was panic stricken. I eventually noticed her tail poking out from one of the other cottages in the row. She was being fed! That was my first introduction to a neighbour.

After that, Dinah the dog would sit on the doorstep, bounce her nose in the air, detect who was cooking and deposit herself on that particular doorstep. During the course of the month, through Dinah, I met most of the people living in the small village and have become good friends with them.

Without Dinah I would, I am sure, still just be on 'Bonjour' terms with them

Without Dinah I would, I am sure, still just be on 'Bonjour' terms with them. She now receives postcards from my immediate neighbour demanding to know when she will see her again. As for Dinah, she enjoyed the whole experience. Many firsts for her - first time in shops, restaurants, and internet cafes. As none of the neighbours speak English she has also become fluent in French.

Of course, she has always had the ability to beg in any language. I will definitely take Dinah with me when I return to my cottage, probably in November - maybe even for Christmas.