While God wept, the spaniel scarpered
At 11am on Tuesday morning, the bridges around Notre Dame and the tiny island of St Louis in its easternly shadow were throbbing with the sobs of locals and the footsteps of gawkers gathered to stare at the spire-shaped hole in the skyline.
Down below, almost unnoticed, a handsome young dog escaped his master’s attention and fell into the water, where the currents threatened to envelope him.
Other than the shared rescue team, the dog’s story appears to be unconnected to the tragedy at Paris’s 850-year old place of worship and tourism. The creature didn’t dive into the water to douse his flaming fur or slide down the bank wrong-footed by sparks from the blaze; no, the little dog fell in an act of disobedience against his master.
Jim, a five-year-old brown and white spaniel, found himself praying to a god who already had too much on his plate dealing with His crumbling cathedral. Finding no truck with the Lord, the errant pup instead turned to the good men of the Paris Fire Brigade to be his saviours.
The professionals, for whom we can say water is usually an ally, shinnied down the bank with a metal pole for Jim to grip, although the dog initially seemed to take evasive action as his owner ran distractingly along the path overhead.
When he finally made it to the bank, young Jim was dragged by the scruff of his neck to the safety of the path above, where ash and embers skitted past in the wake of Monday night’s inferno.
Jim’s owner promptly presented a €50 (£43) bill to the firemen by way of a reward. The heroes gently refused it.
A well-earned cup of tea
In the UK, we know little of the culture and traditions of France, and it seems we know less and less as our island drifts further away into isolation. But it seems reasonable to assume that the lads from the Brigade were offered a welcome and well-earned brew when they returned to their homes following a fourteen-hour shift of firefighting and dog-rescue duties.
While authorities are optimistic that Notre Dame can be restored to even greater glory than ever before, transforming the structure ‘beyond heritage’ thanks to the opportunistic ‘donations’ of a flurry of guilty billionaires, it is not known whether Jim’s new-found aversion to water or his behavioural problems are to be attended to with similar enthusiasm.