Airedales are a deceptive shape. Their supposedly "non-moulting" fur goes Rastafarian if left to grow too long and they finish up looking like a fat fluffy bear. But underneath they are slim - which is why Airedales that have been in the water look awful - fat furry body on top of thin spindly wet legs.
But keeping their fur under control is challenging. There are whole websites and magazine articles dedicated to the art of keeping an Airedale looking beautiful. Vita dislikes the noise of the expensive electric clippers that I bought when I realised that going for grooming was too much for Smudge. He didn't mind, he couldn't hear them, but Vita runs off, tail between legs, because the noise is associated with vets doing nasty things. So I bought a Coat King which shifts great mounds of grey fluff from her coat. She gets bored and wanders off, or resents the tugs from the comb as I pull through her tangles, so we don't get very far.
Dog grooming parlours in town are designed for the small yappy things on strings that the French keep in their apartments and walk in the park. Dogs the size of Vita are meant to be used for the hunt and chained up in a kennel during the week - no grooming for them. So the grooming tables are tiny and one is supposed to lift the dog onto them. Trying to lift an Airedale onto a high wobbly grooming table when she doesn't want to be there at all - legs flying all over the place - is an interesting experience.
So I'd given up on the idea of getting her groomed here in France and thought I'll just struggle on with the Coat King and maybe one day I might get her back to the UK to Liz who did such wonderful things for our other Airedales.
But then I was watching Little England a series of programmes on ITV about the "joys" of being English and living in the Dordogne and there she was - Julia, in Eymet, only half an hour away - with her Shampoochien dog parlour, grooming her Springers who obviously adore her.
So off we went and Vita's come back with a new slimline sleek look. Like our other Airedales after they've been clipped, she's been madly chasing round the house and garden like a six-month puppy, feeling the wind against her skin. Her back is like black velvet.
She sat on the bed last night barking at the new, strange dog reflected in the glass of the French window.