In a few weeks, Hervé Lecocq, employed at the municipal kennel for 20 years, will retire. Before his departure, the ex-soldier agreed to engage in his job as exciting as it is trying.
If some believe that work is health, it is still necessary to stop at some point. For Hervé Lecocq, employed at the municipal kennel in Castres, this time has finally come. At 63 years old and after more than 20 years spent in the kennel taking care of his “little proteges”, the native of Marseille will be able to enjoy a well-deserved retirement from July 1st.
In the meantime, there’s no slowing down. Because when Hervé does things, “it’s square,” confides the former soldier who spent nearly 19 years in the Air Force as a material handling technician, more commonly called “the fourrier.” But for his return to civilian life, he would absolutely “be with the dogs”. So from 1998 to 2002, Hervé will work in a training center in Saint-Jean in the Haute-Garonne, then in a dog boarding house a few kilometers further away. “I was surrounded by dogs every day, so I was the happiest,” says Hervé, who then joined the municipal kennel in 2003.
“Make up for my father’s mistakes”
Here, the adopted Tarnais immediately felt at home. “As a child, my father got a dog to guard his bar. And when his establishment closed, he abandoned it and took it back to where he had picked it up. But I knew that 20 years later when my mother showed me that excerpt from abandonment, which she had put aside in order not to hurt me…”, says Hervé, still very touched by this story that marked his childhood. “But today I see things differently. I finally tell myself that maybe it was my destiny to make up for my father’s mistakes. When I worked at the kennel, I saw it as a sign”.
“I like my job, I feel useful”
“I’ve always loved dogs and I’ve always had them,” continues Hervé, who also adopted his first German Shepherd from the kennel. “I dreamed of having a dog of this breed because of the exhibition 30 Millions d’Amis! (laughs) And then I grew up with Rintintin and the dog my father had brought to the bar, he was a German Shepherd! So this passion has always been there and since then it hasn’t left me.” In total, the ex-soldier adopted two “life partners” at the kennel. “We get attached to dogs and it’s sometimes hard to see all that happens. So we want to take them all together,” he says.
In a 20-year career, Hervé has had ups and downs. His biggest “trauma” remains and will remain the euthanasias he had to participate in. “It is a reality, but unfortunately, when there is no space, we have to do it. People should be aware of this. Because if we want each dog to have an individual box for their well-being, we have no choice…”, he says with a lump in his throat. “We try to limit it as much as possible, we push the walls, we find solutions, but in periods like at the moment and in the summer it is unavoidable”, adds Hervé. And that’s what annoys and undermines him a little more every day. “Somewhere I have a huge anger in me, an overflow”. And when we ask him his opinion on giving up… “There are good reasons, but to me some are futile or even ridiculous. And then there are phrases that we hear too often…”.
After all, Hervé learned to grit his teeth and do his job “like a good little soldier”. And despite his somewhat “boorish” sometimes with the public, his colleagues have a very good image of him. “He does an excellent job here. He is very careful to supervise the dogs, everything has to be done in order,” says Sébastien, one of the employees. “And then he had to smell! He always more or less knows how a dog will react and he adapts accordingly. He also likes to advise on training,” adds Chantal Béziat, site manager.
“I love my job, I feel useful. I like the contact with the dogs, getting to know new ones and trying to calm the most frightened of them”, affirms the soon-to-be retiree, who will not fail to come back to say hello his team from time to time. .
But from this summer, if you look for Hervé, you will be more likely to find him on the side of L’Union Sportive Ambraise, his favorite football club that he has supported for years, in the mess of “8”, in the forest with his dog “Rinty” or on certain commemorations as a flag bearer for the French souvenir.
At the kennel for 8 years, “Chester” is waiting for a loving family
In the kennel, we can say that it is now part of the furniture. “Chester”, this 12 year old rat cross, has been in the same box for 8 years now. “When he arrived, he was a bit aggressive. It must be said that he has his little character! But it’s much better now,” says Sébastien, one of the structure’s employees. Well, the little problem is that when a person has come to visit the kennel and approaches his cage… “He growls! Sébastien exclaims. “But he’s not mean at all. I think it’s his way of showing that he’s a bit wary because he doesn’t like being carried around either,” he added. Hervé, the pensioner-to-be, confirms: “He doesn’t want to be taken for a baby or a toy. And then he’s been there for 8 years and he has his habits here. Besides, he likes to go and see newcomers. He’s doing his inspection!(laughs).
If a family were to adopt him, “he didn’t need much in the end,” adds Hervé. But he will have to have his independence so he can come in and out as he pleases. Basically, we should let him manage his life, whether he has a garden or a small yard and a corner to himself. So if the portrait of “Chester” caught your eye, don’t hesitate to come and meet him at the kennel.