FOR Yunqi (which means fortune), a 10-year-old Labrador-Beauceron mix, going on holiday with his owners is nothing new.
He was born on April 9, 2003. His owner Ivan Len, an English language instructor, adopted him in June the same year, after finding out about him from an advertisement in the local newspapers.
“He was born in a village not too far from ours,” says Len, 47, who lives with his partner Laurent Corric in Chaingy, a two-hour drive out of Paris.
It works in Yunqi’s favour that there are dog-friendly hotels (and restaurants) in Europe. “He goes on holidays all over Europe with us and, naturally, stays in hotels with us,” says Len, in an e-mail interview from Chaingy. So far, the three of them have vacationed together in the Benelux countries – Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – as well as Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Andorra.
Although Yunqi is a large dog that commands attention, he is as gentle as a lamb. The Labrador is known to be energetic, happy, friendly, loveable, extremely patient with children of all ages and easy to train. And the Beauceron, an old French breed of guard/herding dog, has a reputation for being very active. It seems Yunqi is the best of both breeds which share the common traits of being loyal and gentle.
“We notice this consistently – that he’s gentle with kids. He’d let them touch him, poke and prod him, and he doesn’t flinch. He is also a very demanding dog, and knows his rights and entitlements,” says Len.
From the time Yunqi was a puppy until recently, they used to go on long walks – lasting at least two hours – together every single day, regardless of the weather and season. “But as he’s getting on in age, we go for an hour’s walk in the morning and a half-hour one later on in the day.”
Yunqi’s thick, lush coat is brushed daily. Whenever he has a bath, he is thoroughly blow-dried. “He’s very patient with the hairdryer,” says Len.
The pampering does not end there. He is the happy recipient of wholesome, home-cooked meals that are fit for humans; Len cooks an extra portion for him. “He gets his share of our meals, not leftovers. He eats as we would but minus the spices. His favourite human food is nem (fried Vietnamese springrolls).”
Yunqi gets his daily tub of yoghurt as well. At a certain time each evening, he would nudge his owners, as if to ask for the healthy treat. When he has licked the last dollop from the tub, he would promptly “dispose of” it – taking it in his mouth and dropping it into the waste bin.
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