Elaine is now a Full Member of the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers
Certificat de Capacité No. 56-313 (Awarded by the Prefet du Morbihan)
In France dog trainers must be qualified. This is the culmination of years of learning and exams passed during the last 10 years - both in France (taken in French!) and the UK.
In June 2012, she attended an intensive 2-day sminar at the Kennel Club HQ, to learn more about Behavioural Adjustment Training, working with fearful, reactive dogs and puppies.
Training packages now available : basic life-skills, behavioural adjustment, clicker. heelwork to music, trick workshops and agility.
All our dogs are home trained and are doing well in agility -
Elaine has competed at national level in France.
Celebrating our 10th year running our dog-friendly holiday cottages in 2015............ in 2014 over 80% of bookings are from returning clients (many on their 4th or 5th holiday with us). How many holiday venues can claim that???????
Having always dreamt of living in France once retired, we decided to take the plunge early and try to make a go of things and live the French life. Paul had been a policeman for 14 years and Elaine had been running Le Club Français, very successfully, for seven years, teaching French to children both in schools and in after-school clubs. Cheryl, our daughter, already fluent in French and finishing her A levels,(including French!) announced that she would love to live in France - which put the icing on the cake.
We thought long and hard about location - which was quite daunting, given the size of France. Having lived in Portsmouth for 22 years, we had to be near to the sea. We had always wanted a home in the country for the peace and quiet and the wildlife. Not too far from the channel for family and holiday makers to the gites alike and with plenty to occupy them during their stay, yet far enough south to enjoy a better climate. South Brittany, Morbihan, in particular and the Loire Atlantique appeared to offer the perfect location for our dream to provide pet-friendly, self-catering holiday accommodation. In the blazing hot summer of 2003 we spent a month house-hunting in Morbihan, South Brittany, found that it was everything we had hoped for and finally fell in love with La Belle Vilaine in the hamlet of Le Bois Nouvel, Nivillac - our little piece of France. Before leaving for England, the deal was done and our dream of offering gite or cottage holiday accommodation was starting to become a reality.
Having sold up in England and waited for Cheryl to finish her studies, we eventually arrived in Morbihan, France in July, 2004 - along with our two dogs, Gracie and Ficelle, (We sadly lost Ficelle in April 2013 and Gracie in October 2015). Cheryl is working full-time - making the most of her bi-lingual skills - and sounds more French than English. She now lives in her own, new house built in the next hamlet. She also has 2 dogs ... Daisy, a Border Collie and Fran, a Sprollie rescue dog. We now have a new Irish rescue (in honour of Ficelle) who arrived at 2+ years old with HUGE issues. She has her own Facebook page - Cass's Journey.
Paul is busy running the self-catering, holiday cottage (gite) business and keeping our one and a third acres of land neat and tidy. He has become extremely competent in speaking French - no longer needing the translation services of his wife and daughter! He has also become very skilled at keeping our 3 Volvo estate cars on the road (ranging from 25 years to 10 years old!).
Elaine is teaching English in local primary schools and also English and French to adults and school children of all ages privately. She now also takes dog training classes, professionally from home. Haïyla and Cass love all the space at home and the daily walks in surroundings that we used to have to drive to. Haïyla, a working border collie, joined the family in 2009 and, now 7 years old, won prizes on the local French agility circuit, with 3 x 1st place, 2 x 2nd and 1 x 3rd over just 7 competition days in her first year of competition (2011). Haïyla and Elaine won through to 2nd Degree in July, 2012 (equivalent of Grades 3-5). Gracie and Elaine were selected for the Pays de La Loire Regional Team in 2011 (having actually only competed for less than 2 years, due to Elaine's serious injury which took them out the game for 8 months) and competed at National level. We also have a cat - Harry. Elaine and Cheryl took the decision to walk away from the French agility scene, even though they were winning prizes ..... the enforced 13 hour days were too much. We are now the second venue in Europe for Valor Virtual Agility, giving us the opportunity to compete without the ridiculously-long days. If we lived in the UK, we would still be competing.
If you are thinking of buying a home in France and have ever been told that French bureaucracy is a nightmare - be under no illusions, it is. However, if you can converse with the bureaucrats in French (or have somebody with you that can speak French) you will find that they are more than willing to help you - even if they still proceed at typical French speed!
Throughout your stay at La Belle Vilaine self-catering, holiday gites or cottages, we will be on-hand to offer friendly, non-obtrusive, advice. If you would prefer to chat in French (at your level), please let us know - we have spent many holidays in France and left disappointed that we had not had enough opportunities to show off our ability to converse in French.
Paul, Elaine and Cheryl Clark
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