Travel: Your holiday disaster - Susan McGrath was looking forward to a break in a rural French idyll. But then there were the dogs...

We had agreed to swap houses last year with someone in the French Alps, near Chambery. It was beautiful, the weather was kind, and our adolescent son took along his best friend for company. With 24-hour satellite on tap and a McDonald's in Chambery, the boys were no impediment to our desire for long walks and al fresco meals.

Perfection. If it hadn't been for the dogs; two maniacs in a compound, guarded by both chain link and electric fences.

We knew in advance we'd be in charge of the dogs but until we encountered them we could not have imagined the difficulties this would involve. Both were large labradors (Mother and son) but the male had some mastiff (or bulldozer) in him. They liked us well enough, judging from the paw marks down our clothes and the scratches from head to foot, but they were totally out of control. We gave up trying to be reasonable after day one. Thereafter, dressed in protective clothing, the four of us would use SAS tactics to secure the devils with chains and choke leads, clean their bedding, put out food and water, then terrify the gite occupants next door as the dogs bolted for freedom, dragging us behind them as they took us for our daily walk.

By the last day we felt we'd got them beaten as, after a two-and-a-half hour scramble in the mountains, they seemed quite docile. We were shattered and facing a long drive back the next day so looked forward to a quiet evening. The storm began as we got back from our walk, but we made sure the dogs were safe in their shed before preparing our meal. The lightning caused a power failure and soon torrential rain made everything dark and treacherous. My son was anxious about the dogs but on going to check, he found that they had escaped. The phone began to ring:

Call one: "Madame, your dogs have killed our chickens and 4 rabbits" (the farm down the road).

Call two: "Madame, your dogs are running through the road tunnel, heading for Chambery".

Call three: "Madame, your dogs are close to the motorway".

We mounted a search as it got darker. High and low, by foot and by car, we called and cursed those animals. Stumbling around in the dark, my husband slipped and fell, spraining his wrist so I was faced with all the driving, and still no dogs.

We spent a sleepless night waiting for more calls or the sound of barking, wondering if our holiday insurance covered carnage or if our solicitor son's expertise covered French law.

At eight the next morning the Mairie rang to say the dogs had been found and were in Chambery. Once we knew they were safe we rang our house, spoke to our exchange partners and firmly asked that their dogs be collected by someone else as we were leaving for England.

Suggested Topics
News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits