The way-marked trail turned down a narrow lane, towards the riverside village.  As we passed the first house in the village there was a single, sharp ‘woof’ and a brown dog trotted purposefully down a steep drive towards us.  Reaching the end of the drive the dog turned onto the lane ahead of us and trotted on.  Moments later a small, wiry animal came bounding down the drive and our escort was complete.

At the bottom of the lane the red and white way marks of the grand randonée trail showed a right turn at the oyster shed, round behind the boatyard hedge and up a flight of steps.  Our two guides were there before us, waiting patiently at the top of the steps while we tried to decide what to do about their unexpected company.  The man emerging from the boat shed seemed puzzled by our enquiry.  Yes, he knew the dogs, they belonged to the house up there.  Ils ne sont pas méchant.  Ils sont du village.  

Half a mile out from the boatyard we sat down on a riverside wall to look at the view.  While the larger dog ran on ahead the little one sat down next to us and looked up hopefully.  Clearly this was the place that randoneurs  usually stopped for a snack.  No snack today, we were trying not to encourage our canine escorts.

Suddenly, the larger dog remembered a prior engagement, trotted back past us and headed for home.   The little one paused, looked back once, then was gone, leaving a small, dog-shaped hole in the afternoon.

 

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