The Day She Came to Us

We had to listen to a dog howling and crying in despair for several nights since we do not usually hear any dog at night where we live; such sound was most unusual and not very pleasant since the dog obviously were either unhappy of seeking something or someone.  We thought that the dog might belong to one of the builders who worked next door since our neighbour had been building a large luxury villa and large park for the last year employing many builders and security a night. This leads me to ask one day if any of the workers on the site owned a dog; some did but did not bring the dog to work nor left it behind at night.

We live in a beautiful place 600 meters above the Mediterranean overlooking Monaco with the known international casino, only 2200 meters directly in bird distance from our house. There are only a handful of villas surrounded us, most with large gardens or parks. All on a private road leading up to the military installation for Nato overlooking the whole Meditorinian region from Gibraltar to the Black Sea. In addition, we have the Monte Carlo Golf Club near the top, close to the residence of Prince Rainier. It was from this place that Princess Grace drove with her daughter and died in the car crash.

As I did my regular walk up the mountain to the Monte Carlo golf club in the late afternoon, I passed a villa 400 meters from our place from where I heard the sound of the dog, which I thought immediately must be the dog we have heard crying at night and I decided that on my way down I would speak to the owner of the Villa and tell them about our concern for the dog.

When I, 40 minutes later, went back down the mountain, I found two gendarme cars parked at the entrance of the Villa from where I had heard the dog. The gates were right to open, and on one of the entrance gate, I saw a young Alsatian dog standing high up like a mountain goat, obviously in deep distress and despair. One gendarme was water hoarsening the dog, which had a negative effect, and the dog appeared most unhappy with froth coming out from the mouth. At that point, one of the gendarmes asked me if I knew anything about the dog, which I immediately said I did not; in fact, I wanted to complain about the dog crying out at night, which I believe was this dog. He told me that they considered the dog to be very dangerous, and he had ordered a unit of the gendarmes who had rifles from Eze to come and shoot the dog.

I immediately told the gendarmes that they should find out first who the dog belongs to; surely, they do not just shoot dogs? He said to me that this dog is wild and they can’t take any risk, “just look at the dog”. I told them that any dog would become upset if lots of people stood shouting at them and water horsing them at the same time. I could see it was a female dog (a bitch), which generally is not so aggressive as a male dog. Therefore, I suggested climbing up and getting the dog down if they could help me get up there. They strongly warned me against this since the dog really looked vicious and most dangerous; I said that I am not frightened of any dog or animal; if you approach them to help them, they will understand.

The gendarmes got me a ladder and held it to the ground while I went up the ladder with everybody looking scared expecting the worse. I got close to the dog, took hold of her body, and lifted the dog gently, her body weighing around 35-40 kilo; at that moment, she stopped barking and totally relaxed. I slowly went down the ladder and when I reach the ground, put her down, to the fright of everybody. The dog seemed so happy and jumped with joy, to the great surprise of the gendarmes and the owner of the property.

Before the gendarmes had suggested anything, I said I will take care of her and bring her to her possible owner, which I still believe could be one of the building workers or security people working next door to us.

Walking away from the gendarmes and saying goodbye to the owner of the Villa, the dog was making sounds of ecstatic joy and still jumping around in the happiest of mood. Walking another 100 meters down the road to my neighbour’s building site, I lifted her over the fence and felt happy that she might be back to her owner, but not so, she immediately found her way out and joined me walking on the road, again showing her happy mood jumping around like a gazette, so light on her feet, and staying close to me.

I was thinking that it was strange that she was an Alsatian because our son Alexander had a few months before been searching the Internet and going to a German website looking for Alsatian dogs, which he had always wanted us to get. Not that we had decided to buy a dog, but we had talked about getting dogs (always more than one) when we had to rebuild our Villa and had some permanent staff living in.

Dogs are a considerable responsibility and always have to be considered since you can’t just leave them alone. Since we travel regular to London and many other places, it was not possible for us to have a dog. Therefore, I could not see how we could keep the dog if we did not find the owner.

The other of our neighbours Jacques, living at the entrance to our Villa, in the former caretaker’s house, was a retired director for the entertainment of the company SBM, which owned all the casinos and hotels in Monaco. Prince Rainier had moved him and his wife to this house after Princess Grace died in the car crash, ending up in his garden. Jacques had for many years worked closely with Princess Grace. 

When I walked by with the dog, I told him and his wife (Josette, a retired prima ballerina from Paris) the whole story and showed him the dog, which still reflected so much happiness and appeared most friendly. I asked him what he thought I should do with the dog as I still believe the dog could not just be a stray dog as she appeared to be well trained.

Jacques promised to call around with his contacts among the gendarmes and local police; perhaps some vet also knew the dog. However, he could do nothing now since it was early evening. At the time, he did not tell me that he had seen this dog for months running around wild up in the forest, unapproachable and showing its teeth. All this about the dog being wild I was told much later on, and I am not sure that this could have been the same dog; nevertheless, my neighbour insisted that this was the case.

For now, I took the dog to my soulmate and partner in life, Romana, awaiting her disapproval, even having the dog for the night or a day; Romana was certainly not keen on having the dog. After a little discussion and persuasion, I succeed to have the dog stay – at least until we have found out more about her the next day.

The dog, which we immediately named Amey (several different spelling, Arme, Ami, Amy), after a friend’s dog in Poland, seems very happy and contented staying close to the house and following us around. For some unknown reason, she responded to every command, sit!!, she sat, lay down!! She lay down, all to our surprise and amassment since we spoke to her in English.

We had our friends talking to her in Italian and French, and she still responded to all their commands, like she understood all languages. I just had to think what I wanted her to do, and she “read” my thoughts straight away, behaving most impeccable and respectful, still showing her happiness with a smile on her face (yes!! dogs can smile and show their happiness in their eyes and mouth). 

We placed her for the night in a room where we had our central heating system next to the main entrance to our house and kept the door open. The following day she appeared very happy and stayed close to the Villa, going the round the garden. I had not heard anything from my neighbour as to him speaking to the police and the gendarmes in the area but decided to take the dog to a vet to check her health conditions. Before I went to the vet, I briefly spoke to my neighbour, who told me that none of the police stations and the gendarmes in the area had heard of a missing Alsatian dog.

The vet found Amey to be around one year old, according to her teeth, possibly less, she had no electronic tack nor any identity marks, so there was no way to see from where she came. She was in general in good health and appeared very happy and contented. I asked explicitly about Amey’s vertebrae since it seemed that she had a problem with her lower back; we had seen this when she came to us. The vet said there was nothing wrong, and I did not insist on an x-ray. I agreed with the vet that I would come the next day if we did not hear anything from her owner; the purpose was to put an electronic device in Amey’s neck and possibly have her female reproductive organ removed. Romana and my neighbour recommended that this should be done; I later regretted this bitterly as I would have loved the babies. Amey was such a special dog and most intelligent.

The day that Amey came into our lives was exactly one year after we had moved into our Villa on the 22nd of  March 2002, which seemed an odd co-incident, specifically when we look at what later happened. I did at the time tell Romana that this could be a signal of some kind, and perhaps it was a good omen; it turned out to be a miracle. We later, through the years, celebrated Amey’s birthday on the 22 March as she indeed came with a miracle, allowing Romana to live for another 6 years.

Amey First Days with us

Since we had no news of Amey being registered lost, I went ahead the next day with the visit to the vet, where she operated on Amey, putting in an electronic tag into her neck and removing her ovary. The vet told me that she was a very good dog and somehow knew that all this was for her own best. She also gave her various vaccinations, which needed to be done on an annual basis. Bringing her home, I found her in good spirit; despite the fact that she had been under general anaesthetic, she appeared happy.

Romana had spoken to the workmen at our Villa and instructed them to build a dog house for Amey right away. The workmen delivered the dog house the next day, working still on the roof. Amey looked a little sceptical about this new home, and she never did appear very happy with her new house despite the fact that we had given her a sheepskin rug to lie on. Since Amey did not like the “Dog House” from the start, we used to send her to the dog house, when she had been doing something against our wish (which she, as a matter of fact, did very rarely) but mentioning the Dog House to Amey, she immediately becomes upset and looked very sad. Obviously, the Dog House was only used for some 6 months before she would never enter the place again.

Amey’s Dog House

Considering that Amey appeared aggressive towards visitors coming to the Villa, we felt that we had to put her in a chain from time to time, mainly when any tradespeople delivered goods to the Villa. On one occasion, Amey attached a delivery man of wines and bit him slightly in his bum; this all meant that we had to be very careful with her. Nevertheless, most of the days, she walked around in the garden and showed her happiness, always ready to have her long chain fasten if visitors came.

Amey was not hostile to most friends visiting the Villa, only a few, specifically when they were leaving and saying goodbye. She generally had no problems with the two workmen who worked at the Villa; however, when any new person came, we were forced to chain her.

Cats and Wild Boars 

During the first week, Amey was with us; she showed aggression towards cats; this was not good because our neighbour Jacques and Josette love wild cats, which they daily fed. They belonged to a society that tried to control the population of wild cats by taking away their productive organs.

One day Amey came walking with a dead cat in her mouth; she walked straight up to me very proved and let the dead cat fall at my feet like she was delivering a prey I had just shot. I showed my distaste immediately for her action by hitting her and shouting at her that she had been very BAD. When I hit her with my hands, it was an instant reaction that I later regretted. One should never hit a dog with the hands, using a newspaper or something else, but never our hands. However, at the time, I really felt most upset to see her with a dead cat which Amey obviously had killed. What appeared to be strange was that Amey did not appear to ever have been hit because she just stood there and took my hit. Afterwards, she just walked away happy as usual as nothing had happened. I felt terrible.

The next day, Amey came again with a young dead cat in her mouth; like nothing, she did not appear to be concerned when she dropped the cat at my feet. However, when I lifted my hand to hit her, she started crying like a child, so I stopped immediately, but still shouting at her that she had been bad and that she must NOT kill cats. I was most concerned that my neighbour would find out about the dead cats, but they had not noticed since they had so many coming to their house.

A few days later, to my horror, Amey came again with a dead cat in her mouth and, as usually delivered, the dead cat at my feet. Despite shouting at her and lifting my hand to hit her, I could not let myself hit her, as she again cried out like a little child when I just raised my hands to hit her. After this, I was not presented with dead cats, but Amey continued great hostility towards cats, which she did see every day through our gate. With time Amey did become less aggressive towards cats, and just a short time before she died, I even witnessed that an older cat could be in the same room with her.

Since I considered that all dog could be taught to live next to cats without aggression, I asked our vet to get me a kitten. He told me immediately that it would not be possible for us to have a cat since Amey could by nature not help herself; in short, she would always kill the cat, never mind what we told her. I did try many times to tell her of a “no chasing cats” rule, but since she had already experienced a few cat-chasing thrills, it never really worked.

The wild boars were other creatures that came into our lives; Amey always showed them considerable aggression in her special way. Up to the time that Amey came to us, I was most intrigued with the wild boas living so close to civilisation and, in our case, at the end of our garden and at times being far into our garden. In fact, at times, the wild boars showed that they dared to come all the way up to our swimming pool, which contained freshwater (slightly salted, but possible to drink).

Romana found herself one early evening surrounded by a large wild boar (possible a female) with seven-eight piglets (still bigger than Amey) close to our Villa; they had certainly just come close to her standing near a fruit tree, we did not have Amey than, when she discovered the danger she just took off and run. All the wild boars did the same, going in all directions. I observed everything from the side of our swimming pool, at the same time shouting my lungs out, fearing the worst.

The wild boars regularly created havoc to the garden and the flowers, even the palms roots, destroying my newly planted bushes and flowerbeds. So Amey just came into our lives in time to save the garden and protect us from the wild boars.

It is a known fact that wild boars are really not afraid of dogs; they often kill dogs when they are corned in hunts and when dogs come close to a female boar with offspring. During the annual hunts on the wild boars, I have seen dog killed. Even Alsatians are no match for a grown wild boar as they can tear her apart with their large tusks; a friend of ours told us that he had two large Golden Retrievers killed by wild boars.

Amey did know that she was no match for them; however, she could try to scare them away from time to time by her loud barking. Many times at night, Amey woke us with her barking, sensing that she wanted to chase the wild boars which had come close to the Villa. Amey technique was to run forward and bark at the boars, always making sure she had an escape route, moving forward and at the same time going backwards barking loud.

Note 1.

According to Wikipedia: Adult boars average 120–180 cm in length and have a shoulder height of 90 cm.[6] As a whole, their average weight is 50–90 kg kilograms (110–200 pounds), though boars show a great deal of weight variation within their geographical ranges. In central Italy, their weight usually ranges from 80 to 100 kg; boars shot in Tuscany have been recorded to weigh 150 kg (331 lb). A French specimen shot in Negremont forest in Ardenne in 1999 weighed 227 kg (550 lb). Carpathian boars have been recorded to reach weights of 200 kg (441 lb), while Romanian and Russian boars can reach weights of 300 kg (661 lb).

The continuously growing tusks serve as weapons and tools. The lower tusks of an adult male measure about 20 cm (7.9 in) (from which seldom more than 10 cm (3.9 in) protrude out of the mouth), in exceptional cases even 30 cm (12 in). The upper tusks are bent upwards in males and are regularly ground against the lower ones to produce sharp edges. In females, they are smaller, and the upper tusks are only slightly bent upwards in older individuals.


The last picture of Amey taken in Tuscany in March 2009


Amey saved My dear Romana’s life.

One afternoon in mid-May (6-7 weeks after Amey came to us), Romana came to me telling me that Amey had pushed her down the stone steps alongside the Villa. Since we had a wet lunch, I did not take her so seriously when she told me that Amey had deliberately pushed her down the stairs, and the fall could have killed her, which it certainly could. She fell over 11 steps down, hitting herself on the leg. Romana even said that the dog does not like her and could be a reincarnation of “your Mother”, so someone who does not like me”. When I asked her if she was hurt, she said she bruised her lower leg just below the knee. I could think of no one who did not like My Romana, and certainly, my mother would have loved her.

A few days later, Romana complained about the bruised leg and showed a small blue mark. I told her to have an x-ray to see if anything had been seriously damaged on her leg; after all, there was a small lump showing.

A few weeks went by, busy with guests and lots of lunches and dinners. One morning Romana showed me her bruise and the little lump, and I insisted that she should go to a doctor; however, we did not have a doctor in the South of France; our doctor was in London.

One day Romana runs into a friend Angela in our local village; Angela had recently become a widow; when generally speaking about things, Angela told Romana that we had just a new doctor in La Turbie. Angela introduced Romana to Philippe Scemama, who became a very important person for Romana and me.

Romana went for an appointment with the doctor, who examed her, as a routine having a new patient. In going through various questions as to Romana’s health, he asked Romana if she felt well. Romana told him yes, but she felt a little tired from time to time. Considering her age and the fact that there was no indication of any illness, the doctor said it could be Romana’s thyroid gland.

Scemama later admitted that he had no special knowledge of this small, butterfly-shaped structure that sits low in the neck below Adam’s apple. Although this gland weighs less than an ounce, the thyroid exerts a powerful influence throughout the body. Scemama asked Romana to undergo a series of examination by various specialists.

During the following weeks and month, Romana went to many experts at the hospital in Nice, in Monaco, and had many professors with expertise in all aspects of the thyroids. They found nothing wrong with Romana. Every time she went to doctor Scemama, he told her to have another test. Romana had a regular blood test showing nothing wrong. In August 2002, Romana was cleared healthy with nothing on her thyroids. As I was abroad, my son, Mogens, collected her and they had a great celebration lunch in the best restaurant in Nice.

I needed to send all the various bills from Romana’s examination to our insurance company in the view I asked Romana in October if she had finished everything. She said no, Scemama still want me to take another blood test, and it is in Monaco, where it is difficult to park. As I wanted all this to end, I told her that I would drive the next day to Monaco and wait for her to take the blood test.

A few days later, Scemama telephoned and asked Romana to come and see him. He told her that there was some indication of cancer; however, it was very little, so she needed more examination at the Nice hospital to establish what was happening.

After this examination, the professor at the hospital, who had operated on more than 3500 women with thyroids cancer, confirmed that Romana had a very special cancer, which less than 400 women have worldwide every year. What he did not tell her and me, that they all die, as one could not discover this rare cancer before it was too late and it had spread in the body.

Romana’s doctor was in London, Ann Coxen,  a girlfriend with a practice in Harley Street, a famous doctor with some of the most wealthy people in the world as clients (Sultan of Brunie, The Emir of Qatar and the King of Saudi Arabia, among some).  Romana wanted to go to London, and we called Ann Coxen, who wanted Romana on the next flight. I spoke to Ann and told her that Romana had gone through so many expert examinations and should call them first. Naturally, Ann negated the expertise in the South of France and told me that London has the best experts in the world.

I told Ann that the professor here wanted to operate as soon as possible. Ann Coxen telephoned the next day and told Romana and me that Romana could not have been better served in London than what had happened to her, and if she came to London, it would take 3-4 weeks to undergo all the test and received advice. Therefore, we concluded that Romana should immediately go to the hospital and have the operation right away.

This decision saved Romana, as it turned out that the tumour was so small that the professor had never been able to catch cancer so early in any women. Usually, the tumour grows so fast, and in one month, it reaches 9-10 millimetre; that is when they first see cancer. In Romana case, the tumour was six millimetres and taken just in time.

If Romana had gone to London for the operation, it would have taken several weeks with various examination and preparations, all causing that it would have been too late as the tumour would have grown larger and, therefore, death was unavoidable.

This was the first time in Europe that they had been able to find and take away such a tumour before it had done any major damage, as all patient normally would die. Therefore, the French state-funded research into Romana’s family health.

If Amey had not pushed Romana down the stair in May 2002, she would not have been alive beyond January-February 2003. So Amey saved Romana!!

The doctor Scemama later becomes a friend of ours. 

When Romana was in her final month, dying in March 2008, Amey jumped up in bed and was lying on top of Romana, with her legs straight out, covering Romana “little” body. Amey was never allowed upstairs, and never in the bedroom, and certainly not in the bed. Despite this, Amey many times disobeyed, and I found her lying on top of Romana or next to her sleeping in bed. 

September 2009 – five months after Romana’s death. 

It is difficult to understand, I was driving on the AutoRoute just below our Villa, according to the map around 500 meters away from the Villa, below a rockfall of 100 meters, there is a tunnel, which is 1100 meters long-named La Arme or L’Arme, I am not sure what this means, but sometimes French people used to spell Amey name like that. After this, I looked on a detailed map of the area where I found Amey; what did I discover, that the hill )part of the mountain Mont Agel) was named Col de la Arme. When Romana and I named her, we took a name from a dog, also Alsation, which we liked very much and had known for years; however, the spelling of the name was different to our Amey. 

She used to jump in when someone got into the pool, mostly jumping on top of them or close by; this was extremely dangerous, so we had to stop her from doing it. She appeared concerned about us drowning, showing signs of distress when someone was swimming under the water. Amey jumping into the pool did result in a few scars on my body. Her favourite play was for someone to take her ball away from her, holding her head slowly into the water. 

Her ability the first years to find even small stones at night in darkness through down the hill up to 100 meters away laying among tens of thousands of other stones. 

When it was thunder, she came up to the first floor, where she was not allowed; nevertheless, she would open the door and stand there like something terrible was happening. As to coming upstairs where our bedrooms were, this also happened a few times when she wanted to go out, either being ill or in need of doing her big jobs. 

Our travels, how she behaved in the car and around in hotels and restaurants. After Romana’s death, when I stayed in good hotels, even the best five-stars hotels, Amey behaved so well that people constantly came up to me. She would lie under the table in the restaurant absolutely quiet. I did receive so many compliments about her behaviour and how well-trained she was. 

How she behaved when I went away after Romana’s death, not leaving our main bedroom for nearly three days and night, not eating and not going to pee 

Her last days and behaviour 

Her brave fight to the last, losing her senses but never her dignity. 

After I met Hanna, Amey started not eating her favourite food; I bought filet steak and lamb chunks. Despite this, she did not eat everything, and even when I told her to eat, she reluctantly obeyed, looking at me. I started believing that she was jealous of Hanna and that this was why she had stopped eating. However, this went on for months, so when we came back to the South of France, I took her to my wet, Polish, and a friend. 

The vet said that she might be jealous; he could not explain, and she looked OK. 

When Amey had peed or done big jobs through the years, she always went behind a bush and always in nature on grass. She would never show she peed or did anything, a real lady. During these weeks and months, she had done pee on pavement and even twice big jobs from time to time. Most embarrassed about it when I scolded her. Again, I considered she was protesting and did not like Hanna or simply jealous. 

Since we stayed in the Nice apartment and ate out every day and night, Amey walked freely around after us, always behaving well, not ever up to anything. One night, she was behind in the park, and we walked on to the restaurant. Some people had seen her and come to us with her; it appeared she did not know where we were. 

We later learned that she could not smell, and her eyes sight had also been reduced. We human always find it challenging to understand animals pain and what they have to cope with, as they can only speak with their eyes and body language. However, Amey could look deep into my soul, and I felt at times her pain, still not believing it was something serious. 

I ordered a filet steak (as usual) for Amey in the restaurant, which she reluctantly forced into herself; little did I know that she later threw up everything she had eaten on our way back. Hanna told me that she had seen this and thought it was highly unusual. 

I could feel somehow that she needed an examination, as this must be more than jealousy. So I took her back to the wet, again who told me that he could not find anything wrong with Amey. However, he told me to come the next day, as he would conduct some tests and scan her stomach under sedation.  The next day we took Amey to the vet; I still recall her standing in the vet’s office looking at me; I assured her that everything would be fine and that I would be back some hours later. I was giving her my love and assurance. Little did I know that this would be the last time I ever saw her – on this journey.

Hanna and I were having lunch at a famous restaurant, at Coco Beach, outside Nice, a favourite place for Prince Rainier, when he was alive. At 1  o’clock, I received a call from the vet; I still recall clearly every word. He told me that when he opened Amey’s stomach, he found a tumour (cancer) bigger than a tennis ball blocking her small intestines and therefore, she could not eat. He told me that she still was under anaesthetic and out. He also told me that he could “stitch” her up, and she could live another 3-4 weeks but in pain. Considering she did not feel anything, and I did not want her to suffer any further, and I asked him to give her a final injection, so she would sleep in and leave this life. This was my Amey’s death, such a beautiful and good dog and companion. No doubt she gave my soulmate Romana another five years of life and happiness. 

Amey came to us the 22 March 2002 and left this world on 22 April 2009 — Possibly 8-8.5 years old.


To be included (still working on): 

When I fell and broke my shoulder, coming back down Mont Agel with Amey 

The wild boars of Mont Agel and how I liked them.

We did not initially believe that she was a clean breed, but she was, according to experts! 

A friend considered that she had something wrong with her last vertebrae, possible from a traffic accident.

Amey killings of cats and her first beating

When she got out and jumped into my car boot when I was leaving

Her extraordinary behaviour when My Romana was dying 

The first visit and our purchase, sending an angel and the motto on the house Villa les Anges.

Amey would attack strangers

When she attacked the German holder of the longest balloon flight.

Our daily walk – even biking

Her many toys and bolds and how she loved to play after eating her meals, the same as Lady Rose now and Maya

Her fights with the Wild Boars

She liked the sea and swimming in St. Tropez and in Italy

Our travels to Switzerland, Austria and Italy

Our travel to Germany and Poland

How she loved the swimming pool (pictures)

Today the 19th of April 2021 it is 10 years since our Lady Rose was born. She came to us when she was 10 weeks old. During all her ten years she has been the best dog anyone could wish for. Always a loyal companion and friend. We hope she will be here with us for many more years to come and enjoy her time in this life.

Lady Rose & Maya meet for the first time

Lady Rose & Maya playing