Édition #5

I wish I was a Patou* [livestock guard dog]

André MONTAUD President of the Lake Annecy Tourism Office Vice-President of the Orchestre des Pays de Savoie Inspired robot author
In the mountains, the shepherd and his Patou dog form an inseparable duo. They are united by a strong bond, based on a unique complicity built up over the years, through hard work and collusion. The two are intimately linked in the management and protection of their flocks against predators, particularly wolves, bears and stray dogs.

City-dwellers who visit the mountains often have an overly “romantic” view of them, leading to a misunderstanding of the role of the Patou. They may find them aggressive or threatening, when in fact they
are simply carrying out their mission of protection. Even if, every summer, a great deal of work is done to explain how to behave, it must be said that the confrontation between the urban world and the mountain world remains complex, at a time when tourists often regard the mountain pastures as a simple playground.

Taking advantage of the heatwave, I dived into the coolness of the libraries to see how our great authors spoke of Patous at a time when the mountains were untouched by tourism.


“Here are some admirable and little-known texts which are worth a great deal more than a long speech. I hope you enjoy reading them!”

PATOU in the style of a Japanese haiku

Great white mountain dog
Guardian of the flocks
The Patou is there.

Paul Eluard – Voyage dans les Alpes


Patous, patous, magnificent dogs
Who guard the flocks in the peaceful mountains
You are the guardians of a world on borrowed time
Made of men and nature constantly in conflict

Patous, patous, generous dogs
Who give your lives to unfortunate sheep
You are the heroes of a forgotten cause
Of honour and duty forever glorified

Patous, patous, solitary dogs
Who live far from noise and bright light
You are witnesses to a bygone era
Of Earth and Heaven forever merged

Patous, patous, admirable dogs
Who carry the gentle life of the stable in your eyes
You are poets of a sublime beauty
Where strength and grace are forever linked

Victor Hugo – OEuvres de jeunesse

I Remember

I remember a walk I took one day in the Alps, where I met a shepherd who was guarding his sheep with the help of two Patous. These dogs struck me by their size, their strength and their beauty. They were as white as snow, with grey or yellow spots on their backs and heads. Their eyes were keen and intelligent, their ears erect and pointed, their hair thick and lustrous. They looked noble and proud, a sign of their courage and devotion.

The shepherd told me that they were his best friends, that they never left his side and that they watched over him and his animals with tireless vigilance. He told me how on several occasions they had repelled attacks by the wolves or bears who prowled these wild mountains. He also told me that they were gentle and affectionate with him, that they lay at his feet when he was resting, that they licked his hand when he stroked them, that they obeyed him at the slightest sign.

I was touched by this friendship between man and animal, which seemed to me purer and more sincere than that which often unites men. I thought that these dogs were happier than many men who live in the hustle and bustle of cities, who become agitated over vain interests, who deceive each other and who hate and harm each other. I thought that these dogs were wiser than many men who despise nature and degrade, violate and forget it. I thought that these dogs were more virtuous than many men, who lack fidelity, generosity, courage and justice.

I then felt a sort of envy for these dogs, who seemed to me to possess the qualities I most esteemed in sentient beings. I told myself that if I were to be reborn in another form, I would like to be a Patou. I told myself that I would then be closer to nature, freer, calmer and happier. I told myself that I would then be more worthy of the love of the Creator, who made all things good and beautiful.

I left the shepherd and his dogs with regret, wishing them every happiness. I continued on my way, dreaming of what I had just seen and heard. I felt moremoved and enlightened than before. I thanked the heavens for giving me the opportunity to have this instructive and touching encounter.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Rêveries du Promeneur Solitaire

“Dear readers, you have followed me to the end of these lines, so I may tell you that these little-known verses are merely the fruit of my teasing brain. They were in fact created one sunny Sunday by an AI program that I asked to write in the style of Rousseau, Hugo or Eluard.”

If the style is sometimes a little rough, despite a few alterations, I hope that the exercise has at least made you smile. But we should not forget that no robot, no drone and no artificial intelligence will ever be able to replace the admirable and unique complicity between a Patou and his shepherd. And that is what we need to pass on above all and share with those who come to our mountains.

He describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as an “impertinent innovator who likes to create unlikely encounters”.
After an international career with Elf and then Total, he set up the Thésame centre of expertise in Annecy in 2000, with the aim of adapting the innovation tools and methods normally reserved for large consortiums for SMEs. Rated “Best in Class” on a European level, Thésame has become a reference in technology and performance
management in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
A specialist in mechatronics, André co-founded the world’s largest robotics cluster with his American and Korean counterparts, which currently groups more than twenty countries. He is now a young retiree and, as such, can indulge two of his passions: the mountains and classical music. He makes the most of this to devote time to chairing the Lake Annecy tourist office and acting as vice-chairman for the Orchestre des Pays de Savoie. His maxim is: “Be disobedient, think outside the box and create
impossible connections”: a truly impertinent innovator!