On a recent sunny morning, Monaco Paws walked up to the Principality’s Upper East Side to meet a Yorkshire Terrier called Max, the beloved pet of Paul and Fiona Betts. Paul was Senior Foreign Correspondent with the Financial Times for 35 years, which took him and his family all over the world.
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The Betts have been married for 41 years, have four children and are expecting their eighth grandchild any day. Still, it’s clear that Max remains the centre of their world. Photo: Kaidi Photography[/caption]
How did you get Max?
Fiona: He was a year old and had been the pet of our daughter’s friend, but she was going off to art school and needed someone to look after him. We said we would take him, but only if we could keep him. She agreed and sent Max from New York to us in Paris and we picked him up from the Gare de Lyon in 2002. He was a pedigree of great lineage and incredibly handsome.
Had you ever had a dog before?
Paul: As a journalist we had to move around a lot so it wasn’t practical to have a family dog but when Max came to us when we were in Paris, and I discovered the city in a way I had never known before.
Fiona: Cities can be very lonely places. Dogs help one understand the world in a better way.
When did you bring Max to Monaco?
Paul: Three years after having Max we relocated permanently to Monaco. My parents came to Monaco in 1956, so we always visited often. In fact, when I was young I attended the American School in Villefranche-sur-Mer ... when it was still there.
What is the best thing about having a dog?
Fiona: One lives in the moment with a dog. You learn an awful lot.
Max is quite a small guy. Do you need to be especially careful with him?
Fiona: He is mostly okay, although bigger dogs can be a danger for him. It’s best to just use one’s common sense. I speak to him very quietly and he behaves.
Paul: In Italy we need to watch out for the eagles.
Is Max more attached to one of you?
Fiona: He is attached to the person who gives him the most food! He is incredibly greedy. I am very strict, so we disagree at times on his care and feeding.
Paul: I spoil him.
What does he like to eat?
Fiona: He likes Grissini sticks, Monaco Beline Biscuits, little chunks of Parmesan, bits of ham … but he really must be kept on a very strict diet.
Now that Max is 16 and in his senior years, does he have special needs?
Fiona: I watch him much more, like a child or an old person. He’s lost his teeth and is going blind. It’s difficult to watch him lose his senses but we keep him active, and it’s important to make sure he has lots of things to smell everyday. Someone once told me that a dog smelling things is comparable to us reading the paper everyday. I just like to make sure he is comfortable. At this stage cleanliness is very important too.
Paul: We had a real scare about a year ago when we were coming back from Italy. His diet is terribly important.
How would you describe Max’s place in your lives?
Fiona: He is our fifth child, and unites the family. He’s always been happy to go on any adventure with us and never wants to be left behind. He is so much a part of us ... Max is irreplaceable.
Have you ever written about Max?
Paul: Yes, I was asked to review the service provided for dogs at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. They were trying to attract travellers with dogs. It turned out as a half-page spread in the FT Weekend Section, and the hotel gave Max a silver medal for his collar. It says “Hôtel de Crillon” on the front and “Return to the Bar” on the back.
Fiona: We could write a whole book about him, the story of Max is rich.
Monaco Paws is a collaboration between writer Siri Trang Khalsa and photographer Kaidi-Katariin Knox. Follow on Instagram @stkmonaco and @art.of.an.eye or contact firstname.lastname@example.org