Sunday 11 December 2016

My pet: 'Houndini Herbert', escape artist

Norah Brown

Published 02/10/2016 | 02:30

Herbert the dog
Herbert the dog

One day seven years ago whilst living in central France, a friend drew my attention to a posting on an expat forum: "Herbert through no fault of his own needs a new home."

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There was no photograph and the description was of a boisterous two-year-old Setter Anglais. I emailed our dog owners' CV which spanned 25 years and included two re-homed setters, first an Irish Red and then a Llewellin. There was a big response to that posting, but we were the lucky ones and so Herbert came to live with us in the Limousin.

As we were intending to leave France, a passport was required and on day two we were at the surgery only to find that the warning we had been given of his dislike of vets was so true, he completely freaked out and has taken until now to improve.

We soon discovered that he is an escape artist, "Herbert Houdini", and our once dog-proof garden was no match for him! On several occasions, he made a dash for freedom and recall was not in his vocabulary in any language - not unusual for his breed. However, with his Gallic charm and good looks he is easily forgiven.

When we made the arduous journey back (to UK first), he was good as gold in the car and enjoyed stopping off at various beaches on the Normandy Coast to say farewell to his homeland. The dreaded animal passport check at the Tunnel in Calais provided some very anxious moments when an official pointed out that there was a date missing and we had visions of having to leave Herbert behind in kennels temporarily whilst we carried on to be reunited with our belongings. Fortunately, we were able to leave all together.

During the next few months, Herbert was a regular on the ferry to and from Ireland before finally settling down in Tipperary, just a few hundred yards from where we left to go to live in France. At that time, we took Oscar, an aged Llewellin Setter, with us and he enjoyed his swan song in the sun and is buried in the garden there. So life has gone full circle and Herbert now walks the highways and byways in Oscar's footsteps and even wins rosettes at the same local shows.

Having spent his youth living at an old Millhouse, Herbert is mad about water and loves to go on holiday to the fabulous beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way where he enjoys playing in rock pools.

He has brought much joy into our lives and we are still in contact with his previous owners, who had to make that heartbreaking decision to part with him, so he is still, in a small way, a part of their lives.

Name: Herbert

Finest hour: Champion Gun Dog Roscrea Harriers Show

Likes: Water/Lots of Attention

Dislikes: Visiting vet

Norah Brown, Knockbrack, Tipperary

Sunday Independent

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