Toutou--French for doggie--conjures up familiarity, fluff and affection.
What do 8.6 million French toutous really want? Probably what any other dog does: food, water, affection and to be on the other side of the door.
Back in 2005 when the craze for buying luxury goods for dogs was peaking in France, I wrote a humorous magazine article about it saying that "dogs here have always enjoyed conspicuous pampering--especially in restaurants, where it really counts." The other day when I mentioned that favorite line to my friend, a kicky Parisian architect and man-about-town, he remarked he had been seeing fewer and fewer dogs going out for dinner.
Wondering exactly what the French legislation is on dogs in restaurants, we consulted a highly reliable source, the Fondation 30 Million Amis. The bottom line is that a restaurant owner has complete discretion in deciding whether to admit dogs, and he is not required to post any sign prohibiting them. (This leaves plenty of room for exception-making.) Dogs in a café or restaurant, however, must be securely held on a leash, and if they cause any damage, the dog owner is responsible.
Le Littré, the authoritative classic of French dictionaries, says parenthetically that toutou is onomatopoetic, and in the language of children, dog. What do you think? Does toutou imitate the sound of that which it signifies?
The above text contains excerpts from an article I wrote, Dressing Médor, originally published in France Today Magazine, Nov 2005.
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Text & photos ©2009 P.B. Lecron