Bob, the Great Pyrenees who lumbers through Ferrals-les-Corbières, has a big fan club. The members don’t know one another, yet they’re easy to spot. They stop their vehicles in the middle of the village, jump out and run over just to say hi to His Greatness.
Sometimes his fans gather in front of the village post office and tip their heads in his direction.
“Comment ça va, Bob?”
His tail wags in response, “Ça va bien. Merci.”
Bob’s diminutive owner has recognized finally that the vehicles driving slowly past are looking at the canine, not her. It’s a bit of a letdown that his figure draws more attention than hers.
Like any three-year-old, Bob loves to go outdoors and play. Come inside and go out again. Sometimes he’ll spot a flock of birds overhead, run through the house and out again until he sees it on the other side.
Bob lives for his daily walks. They begin at one end of the village, traverse through the Languedoc countryside, roam between the vineyards and return to the edge of Ferrals near the cemetery. That’s where he greets his friends, the donkey and the horse, sadly underfed creatures who benefit from sympathizers who throw apples and stale bread over the sagging fence.
Despite his large size, 120 pounds, Bob is light on his feet. The Great Pyrenees, a.k.a. Pyrenean Mountain Dog, was bred to herd goats on the rocky slopes of the mountains lying along the border between Spain and France. Bob scrambles easily up and down the local riverbanks where his tail captures entire shrubs in its plume. His energetic gambols produce a foamy drool that he can sling up to 15 feet in one shot.
The wind slices through the mountains at 30 mph, the temperature drops to 28℉, and Bob relishes it. He sports two layers of fur. He has a dense wooly undercoat covered by a fluffier top coat that collects leaves, twigs and small infants. His thick fur grows into an impenetrable mane around his neck to protect against attacks by wolves.
Bob is no angel. He burps like a frat boy on a Saturday night and brutishly scratches the wood door to get outside. He’ll run away as fast as possible to meet another dog of his approximate size and completely ignore commands to return.
Still, he’s Bob the Great. Everyone in Ferrals-les-Corbières knows him and loves him.