Ed­u­cat­ing Archie in French

Tout suite for words – res­cue dog falls for vol­un­teer’s ac­cent

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Nathan Spen­de­low nathan.spen­de­low@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

STAFF at Hare­field Dog Cen­tre have had to adopt French ac­cents when speak­ing to Archie the jack rus­sell.

The dog was taken in as a stray and re­stored to health at Hare­field res­cue cen­tre by a vol­un­teer who comes from France – and he loves her ac­cent so much that French has be­come his first lan­guage.

Now Archie the jack rus­sell ter­rier will only fully obey com­mands if staff copy her dis­tinc­tive ac­cent.

Archie was found as a stray ear­lier this year be­fore be­ing brought by the Dogs Trust to its re­hom­ing cen­tre at Hare­field.

For the last eight months, nurs­ery school teacher Marie-Hélène Léoni, orig­i­nally from Savoie in the French Alps, has spent most week­ends with him, al­low­ing him to so­cialise and ad­just to a home en­vi­ron­ment.

Miss Leoni, 57, who be­came a Dogs Trust vol­un­teer helper af­ter her own dog passed away eight years ago, said: “Archie was very wor­ried when I first met him, but work­ing along­side the ca­nine car­ers at the cen­tre, I could see his po­ten­tial.

“So I started tak­ing him home for week­ends, and we’d go for long walk­ing hol­i­days to­gether in Castle­ton, Der­byshire.

“I’d sing him clas­sic French chil­dren’s songs, like A la Vo­lette, Me­u­nier tu dors and Il était un pe­tit navire.

“I’d also call him French pet names such as Toutou – which is what chil­dren in France call dogs.

“I call him Pou­pounette too, which trans­lates as ‘lovely dog­gie’ and mon pe­tit chou, mean­ing ‘my lit­tle dar­ling’, and af­ter that he started trust­ing me more and more.

“And be­cause Archie was re­spond­ing so well to what I was say­ing, staff at the cen­tre started to speak to him in a French ac­cent.”

Lizzie Smith, a ca­nine carer at Dogs Trust, added: “Archie had clearly had some bad ex­pe­ri­ences be­fore he was res­cued.

“But fol­low­ing the ground­work car­ried out by the Dogs Trust team at Hare­field, Marie-Hélène’s pa­tience, love and devo­tion has helped re­turn his con­fi­dence and made such a dif­fer­ence to his life.

“She does have a lovely French ac­cent, and it’s as­ton­ish­ing to see the way Archie will only re­act when he hears it - which means dur­ing the week when he’s back with us, the staff try to repli­cate Marie-Hélène’s ac­cent, with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess.”

Miss Leoni moved to England in 1977 to im­prove her English skills, and now owns her own nurs­ery school in west Lon­don.

She said: “Af­ter my dog died I still wanted one in my life, and when I dis­cov­ered what Dogs Trust was do­ing, in terms of res­cu­ing and find­ing new homes for dogs, I wanted to help.”

Staff at the Dogs Trust cen­tre say Archie is now ready to find a lov­ing new home.

He is de­scribed as shy and sen­si­tive who takes time to get to know peo­ple, but once he does he will make a loyal com­pan­ion.

To en­quire about Archie call the Dogs Trust on 01895 453930 or see w w w. d og s t r u s t . o rg . u k / our-cen­tres/hare­field

n BONJOUR: Dogs Trust Vol­un­teer Marie-Hélène Léoni with Archie the Jack Rus­sell

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