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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

Lockdown!

As everyone in France and probably everyone elsewhere already knows, France is now officially on full lockdown. No one knows how long this will last, but an initial period of two weeks is certain and this will presumably be extended depending on the speed of propagation of Coronavirus.

The Government has made it clear that dog walking is permitted, although not in social groups. So there is no need to deprive yourself or your dogs of their usual exercise regime. However you will be required to carry a self-declaration explaining why you are out of your home. It can be downloaded here, but if you do not have a printer, you can copy it out and sign your handwritten paper.

Of course there will be a huge impact on the refuge. Health authorities have made it clear that the virus is not carried or transmittable to animals, so there is no need to abandon animals. Although sadly people will do so. The ScPA will doubtless fill up and there is nothing that can be done about this.

However rest assured that when this period of lockdown started there was quite a lot of free space. Plus some incredible work was carried out before midday today, meaning that many of the elderly and vulnerable dogs are now in foster families. Huge thanks to all the effort that was put in by staff and volunteers and huge thanks to people who took in or offered to take in animals.

Inevitably the dog show planned for next month has been cancelled. Up till this point there had been minimal investment of time (apologies to Marcus who did the fabulous poster), and we need to be realistic.

Take care everyone. Keep walking your dogs and look after them; you are all they have and equally I am sure that they are providing you with comfort and company during these difficult times.

Look after yourselves; look after each other and hopefully we can get through this without any more distress than is absolutely necessary.

Last Leavers before Lockdown

Many of you will have seen that France is now closed due to the Coronovirus. As of midnight on Saturday all non-essential public services are closed by governmental order. And that includes the refuge. Of course we all have our own definition of what is and what is not essential, but ours is not to wonder why.

Of course staff will be on hand to look after the animals present at the refuge, and will do their best to keep all the residents as happy and occupied as possible. Animals will still be arriving, as the refuge fulfills the role of pound for any dogs and cats found straying, and measures will be put in place for owners to reclaim their animals and even to adopt. All visits will be via appointment though, so it is worth making a note of the ScPA phone number. It is 0468 25 35 45 and staff will be on hand every afternoon from 14H00-18H00 ie during normal opening hours.

So who managed to get out before the shutters came down?

This week seven dogs found new homes. Actually it was eight until today when one of the week’s earlier leavers was brought back. Also sadly one of last week’s adoptees, puppy James, is back too. Clearly the adopters did not see or care about our last blog about patience and preparedness….. But the good news is that four of this week’s leavers are all puppies!

Charly – ADOPTED

Chaplin – ADOPTED

Brothers Charly and Chaplin left for new homes, as did another set of brothers, Stan and Oliver. All four are tiny terriers who all look set to create a suitable amount of mischief in their new homes. If France is set to enforce self-isolation on its population, we know of four families who will have plenty with which to amuse themselves!

Stan – ADOPTED

Oliver – ADOPTED

The other leavers were beautiful boy Starck and delicate whippet cross Lina, as well as stunning dalmatian Ooper (now renamed Hooper). He particularly has had a stormy ride up to now. He arrived at the refuge once before only to be reclaimed by his owner who subsequently tried to rehome him for free on the internet. Fine with other dogs, cats and children, Hooper’s only fault was that he gets bored when alone all day and escapes. That should be solved by a three pronged approach; an enclosed garden with a family who is at home all the time, plus castration which should suppress the desire to chercher la femme! Hooper’s new family are over the moon and we are sure that Hooper is too.

Starck – ADOPTED

Lina – ADOPTED

Hooper – ADOPTED

We have no idea how long it will be before things return to normal (or whatever becomes the new normal). At the time of publication dog-walking on your own dog is not a proscribed activity. Plus it has been confirmed that neither dogs nor cats can carry or transmit the disease. So enjoy the company of your four-legged friends and take care of yourselves and each other.

New Dog- No Panic!

Earlier this week the ScPA was contacted by a family who were about 48 hours into an adoption and were considering bringing their puppy back as they felt that they had made a huge mistake. They felt completely overwhelmed and unable to cope. As things turned out they calmed down and for the moment all seems to be well.

But it got us talking, and it turns out that just about everyone feels the same. It was a bit like a confession session; people whom I regard as perfect owners, completely unflappable and competent; even they had a post-adoption wobble, certainly when adopting their first dog. I know I did! And not just a first dog, each time a new dog is added to a pack, we worry if it is a good idea or whether we should just keep the status quo.

It is a perfectly normal reaction. Unless your dog is going to live in isolation in a garden and have no impact on your life other than to bark at the approach of guests (and, sadly, some dogs do live this way), then he or she is bound to change your life. And change is as exciting as it is frightening.

So what to do? Well step one, before you even adopt,is to read lots and talk to lots of people, preferably good, experienced dog owners. Then have a really long think. Anyone who tells you having a dog won’t change your life is lying. Consider the following:

Will you be happy taking the dog for walks in the pouring rain and to clear up muddy paw prints afterwards?

Are you willing to take your dog to education classes if necessary?

Are you prepared for vets bills. Not just annual vaccinations, but what happens if your dog falls ill?

Are you ready to get up early in the morning to let a dog out, especially during the first few days when house-training might be a problem, or longer if you are adopting a puppy?

Are you prepared for a few toilet related accidents as your dog gets used to his new routine?

Are you prepared for destructive behaviour and chewing?

Are you ready to find dog hair on your clothes, your furniture and even your food?

Are you prepared to have plants dug up and holes dug in your lawn?

Are you prepared to share your sofa (not obligatory, of course)

Have you thought about where your dog will spend his time if you are unable to take him out or away with you?

Are you prepared to sacrifice days and evenings out in order to keep your dog company?

etc!

Of course you may be lucky, and you would be very unlucky indeed if you were faced with even half of those issues. But forewarned is forearmed!

I am sure many of you realise that in terms of life-changing events, taking on a dog has a lot in common with having a baby. And it is rare for new parents not to have at least some doubts at first. Of course parents are not able to have second thoughts and take the baby back where they got it, they just have to get used to the “new normal”. For the most part everything works out fine. And that is usually the case with dogs, providing you can overcome your initial panic.

The good news is that you are not alone, and nor should you feel alone! The other good news is that, once the initial panic is over and you and your dog have settled down, a dog enhances your life enormously and the benefits to your physical and emotional health are incalculable.

Have you experienced any of the issues above? Why not share your tales of post-adoption panic with us. What happened and how did you overcome your issues? We will publish a selection at a future date!

Please bear in mind we would never discourage anyone from adopting, but unless you are prepared for at least some teething troubles, maybe dog ownership is not for you!

Sunday ScPA Summary

This has been a good week. Not only was the number of adoptions up to its usual mark, but it also saw the departure of more puppies. Including (today) the adoption of the last puppies from two recently arrived litters. We have said on many occasions that it is always sad to see the last puppy of a litter alone at the refuge, but we have also said that often they end up being the happiest of all.

But let’s start at the beginning, with Monday. That was a bumper day, with four adoptions, including 2 of the Patou/ border collie cross pups, Spirit and Cimarron. Gorgeous balls of fluff right now, these are destined to be big dogs and it was important that potential adopters were made aware of this. As mentioned in last week’s blog, one of the litter who was homed directly from the mum’s owners was later brought in to the refuge as the family did not want a dog of that size. Far better to be forewarned!

Spirit – ADOPTED

Cimarron – ADOPTED

Monday’s other leavers were both “second-chancers”, ie dogs who have been brought back from failed adoptions. The first of them. Pepsy, was adopted as a puppy last summer (grrr) and the other, Pollux, was a more recent leaver. We hope that all of them really have found their forever homes this time!

“Second chancer” Pepsy – ADOPTED

And a second chance also for Pollux – ADOPTED

Another dog who has left for a second chance is fabulous Star-Lord. As with Pollux he was adopted and brought back very quickly, but this time things are looking far more positive and we hope he is as happy in his new home as he deserves to be.

Star- Lord – ADOPTED

Poor little Cookie, who arrived following the death of his owner, found a new home, as did cheeky looking Mercury. Then later in the week said goodbye to fabulous husky Orion. Dogs of this breed usually attract a lot of attention when they are available for adoption and staff have to be doubly vigilant when selecting a new family. Lucky Orion did not have long to wait for what we all hope is the right home this time!

Cookie – – ADOPTED following the death of his owner

Mercury – ADOPTED

Orion – ADOPTED

Finally today the week ended on a high as the ScPA said farewell to the “last” puppies. Little James’s siblings had both left a couple of weeks ago, and the refuge staff and volunteers were starting to get a bit worried for him. Or not so much worried as sad, to be honest. No one likes seeing puppies grow up at the refuge, although on the positive side, it usually means that there are some decent photos!

“Last” pup James – ADOPTED

The same is true for River, the last of the Patou/ border puppies. As with huskies it is important for prospective owners to understand what they are taking on when adopting a dog of this breed (or this mixture). Yes, it is important to find the right people for every single dog, but with some breeds future behavioural issues are easier to predict. Little River is adorable, and as she was brought up in a family environment, perhaps she will be the perfect dog. However her new family is prepared for any shenanigans!

And “last pup” River- ADOPTED

So that makes ten adoptions! Not bad considering it rained constantly for most of the week, which is hardly likely to inspire people to take on an animal that will require lots of time outside! So many thanks to all the week’s adopters and may we all be blessed with nothing but sunshine from now on!

Sunday ScPA Summary

It was another quiet week in terms of adoptions, with just five leavers, three of which are puppies from the same litter. Joy, Petit Nuage and Esperanza were brought in as part of an unwanted litter of border collie/ patou crosses earlier in the week.

Don’t get us started about people failing to have their females sterilised and then dumping pups in to already stretched refuges. But at least this person brought the dogs in rather than leaving them at the gates or abandoning them in the middle of nowhere. Not before homing a couple of them for free on the internet to “responsible people” however. And one of these supposedly responsible people has already brought their new puppy in to the refuge to be rehomed about one week after taking it on.

Puppy Joy – ADOPTED

This highlights the risks of rehoming pups on the internet to strangers, and also the risks of taking a puppy on board for free; it is very rare that the former owner will take a dog back. At least a puppy homed via a responsible association will be sterilised, vaccinated and identified.

Puppy Esperanza – ADOPTED

These pups are going to be big when adult and it is worth getting some idea of what awaits you in terms of breed, so if you like the look of these balls of fluff, you’d better be quick, but please do your research first. There are still two pups waiting for homes, I believe.

Petit Nuage – ADOPTED

The week’s other leavers were Loustic (who was adopted a couple of weeks ago but brought back almost before having time to wipe his feet on the mat), and DRC favourite Popeye. This lad is the brother of recently adopted Olive, and we are pretty sure is also related to DRC favourites Tom, Tommy. Théa et al.

Popeye has been on our site as a hidden gem, although as of about a week we were wondering whether to promote him to an urgent appeal, as he has been really miserable of late, losing weight and perhaps hope that his time would ever come. But it finally did, and we hope that Popeye turns out to be as wonderful a companion as his brothers and sisters have proved to be.

Loustic – ADOPTED (again)

black and white dog

Popeye – ADOPTED

 

Urgent Appeal – Luna

Today DRC would like to put the spotlight on Luna, a Parsons Jack Russell terrier who really needs a home. We are putting her as an urgent appeal, rather than a hidden gem, as unlike our other hidden gems, we know that Luna is not the perfect dog for everyone.  However for the right person she most definitely is!

Luna is small and pretty

Luna was born in January 2015 and arrived at the refuge already identified to a breeder, where she had presumably served several years and made him lots of money before being discarded. As she is still very young, she does not have any of the signs of having been a breeding dog, and is in great shape.

This was in July 2019 and Luna spent four months at the refuge before her first adoption. Very sadly for both her and her family, Luna was brought back as she was unable to live with the couple’s other dog. The ScPA already suspected as much, and had warned the owners that this might be the case, but they were keen to try and it was fair to give Luna her chance. However her return emphasised the fact that Luna has to be an only dog. Nor can she live with cats. However she can walk with other dogs, so is not as antisocial as some dogs who have managed to find homes!

Despite being a bit feisty outside, Luna loves her home comforts

Luna’s next family had young children and this proved to be no problem. The issue here was Luna’s major “failing”. She is a runner! The husband took her to work with him, but he is a construction worker and Luna would leave the site. She always returned, but the risk to her was too great, so he decided to leave Luna at home with his wife. Luna was not taken out enough, and began to be dirty in the house. So back she came.

Her latest adoption lasted even less time, and Luna is back at the ScPA. Surely there must be someone out there for this lovely little dog?

Luna loves long walks

It is worth checking out breed information for Jack Russells. They are small dogs (Luna is TINY), but have big personalities. The word “Feisty” could have been invented to describe them. Luna is no exception. However she is also hugely affectionate. She can be a lovely lap dog, but needs plenty of exercise. Luckily she is great on the lead, although at the refuge she is walked with a double lead, as she does try to escape.

She is very unhappy at the refuge and cries and yips in her kennel. However she is very quiet at home, and her first family say that she was adorable in the house.

Luna is adorable. And not just when she is asleep!

All Luna needs is the right person. With regular walks she would be fine with a small well-enclosed garden or even no garden at all. She loves people and travels well in a car. I myself scooped her up once when I found on on the lam from the building site, and she sat calmly in the passenger seat while I drove her to the refuge to await her owner.

If anyone likes their dogs small and feisty, but with lots of love to give, then please consider offering a home to little Luna. We can contact her first family and put you in touch with them if you would like to discuss her in more detail. They are Anglophones and had they not had another dog, Luna would still be living with them for sure. They loved her and she loved them.

Luna wants to be happy again.

Please help us find a home for Luna. If you cannot help by adopting her, please share for her and let’s find her the forever family she deserves.

Sunday ScPA Summary

Here we are with another week’s update from the ScPA. Hopefully this week’s leavers will fare better than last week’s; two of them are already back at the refuge. Pollux and Loustic’s freedom did not last long, with both families giving up after a very short period of time, making many of us wonder what the heck people expect when they adopt a dog. Surely everyone is prepared for at least a minimum time of adaptation. Sadly apparently not.

In fact today’s summary should have featured eight dogs, but one of them, Jack Russell Luna, is back already. Not the shortest adoption ever, but surely in line for some kind of record.

But let’s move onto the good news; this week’s leavers.

Two of the three beagle cross pups left for new homes, which is great news for Kurt and Slash. They really are adorable little lads and we hope it will not be too long before their brother, James, finds a home too. It is so hard for puppies to grow up at the refuge.

Slash – ADOPTED

Kurt – ADOPTED

Another puppy, the fabulous Linoise found a new home, as did “not quite pup” Milka. And despite Luna’s abortive adoption, two other female Jack Russells did find homes; both Betsy and Puce left the refuge for new lives.

Linoise – ADOPTED

Milka – ADOPTED

Puce – ADOPTED

Betsy – ADOPTED

Eldest of the week’s leavers was ten year old yorkie Andrew. He arrived earlier this month but sadly for him, and possibly for his owner, he was not identified. Although ten makes Andrew sound quite elderly, of course in general the smaller the dog, the longer the life. We hope that Andrew and his new owner have many many happy years together ahead of them.

Andrew – ADOPTED

Let’s hope we don’t see any of these dogs again unless it is in happy photos or for visits from delighted and committed owners, and roll on next week, when there will hopefully be more dogs leaving for what will be FOREVER homes!

Letting dogs “Fight it out” is a big no-no!

Today a dog who had been adopted on Sunday was brought back to the refuge as he was not getting on with the other dog in the house. This despite a test at the refuge, which seemed to go okay. Dynamics in the house were very different however, and the family did not feel capable of dealing with the issues. So far so sad, but no great shakes.

The reason for the blog is that someone (external to the ScPA) seems to have suggested that the best thing to do is to let the two dogs fight it out to see who is dominant. After that the fights would cease.

There is so much wrong with that that it is hard to know where to start. But NO! There is a big difference between letting dogs have slight niggles while they are getting to know each other, and what could turn out to be a fight to the death.

The end result of leaving two dogs to fight it out would almost inevitably be two traumatised dogs and probably a very expensive vets bill.

When Caillou arrived in our home nearly three years ago, there were a couple of issues with Nero, my other male. Growls were heard, and on a couple of occasions teeth were on display. However we stepped in and separated them before anything could kick off. There was never any question of leaving them to decide who was top dog. Because top dog is us! After a very short time they got to know each other and soon they were curling up together like old pals.

If you are determined to make it work, then slow and steady is the way.  Some people just accept that their dogs don’t get on and keep them separate both inside and out. Others rehome one of the dogs. Everyone has a breaking point and some people do not have the patience or ability (or time) to deal with issues. Which is presumably why yesterday’s adoptee was brought back. But thank heavens he was!

If you have two dogs who do not get on consider getting professional help. But never allow dogs to fight to establish dominance. It will not end well!

Sunday ScPA Summary

It was back to business as normal this week with nine dogs being adopted. That is nine dogs in the warm, excluding of course those who were lost and reclaimed by their owners, and as usual there were several of those. As well as those who were lost and have not been reclaimed, and so add to the numbers at the ScPA.

The first adoptions took place on Monday, with both Carlos, a stunning fauve de Bretagne and collie cross Taz leaving for new homes. We are particularly happy about Taz, who arrived with a badly injured leg following what we presume was an unwanted encounter with a car. The ScPA vet  re-broke the hip joint in order that it can reheal in the proper position, which has meant that Taz has been spending lots of time in the reception area. He proved to everyone what a fabulously well behaved lad he is, and by all accounts his new family is delighted with him.

Fauve de Bretagne

Carlos – ADOPTED

Taz – ADOPTED

Later in the week we said goodbye to Velux, another relatively recent arrival. He is far prettier in real life than in this picture, and is possibly a spaniel / French bulldog cross. Another recent arrival, Rocky, left too. His family had gone to a lot of trouble to bring him back from a distant island when they moved to France, only to bring him in for rehoming when they subsequently got divorced. Still,  lucky Rocky didn’t have long to wait before finding happiness once again.

Velux – ADOPTED

Rocky – ADOPTED

A truly wonderful adoption took place on Saturday; that of Black, a large and powerful looking dog who was adopted towards the end of last year and brought back due to poor management by his family. Sometimes dogs of Black’s size can wait a long time for a home, and in fact Black’s previous stay was a very protracted one. Not this time, though, and we were all delighted for him.

Black - ADOPTED

Black – ADOPTED

Little Pop also found a new home this week, with many of you probably guessing that she arrived the same time as last week’s leaver, Iggy!

Pop – ADOPTED

Three of the week’s adoptions took place today. First to leave was lovely Star Lord, who arrived as a stray towards the end of December. A magnificent brindle coloured cross, Star Lord has cut quite a dash at the refuge and it is surprising that he has been there this long. Also finding a home today was Sherlock, whom you might recognise as having been adopted already once this year. Very sadly some things cannot be predicted, and a sudden severe illness meant that little Sherlock was brought back very unexpectedly and reluctantly. However he has found a new home almost immediately; that is the advantage of being a small dog. Although Black has proved that big dogs can strike gold too.

Star Lord – ADOPTED

Sherlock – ADOPTED

And the “best” adoption of the week? Probably that of Danceuse, first of the very timid border collies to find a home. She arrived as one of 7 dogs who had been locked away since being born, with no human contact or access to outside. Luckily they made it to the safety of the ScPA, where they have been left pretty much alone for 3 months or so. Gradually they have been learning to trust people and have finally been separated to socialise with other well-balanced dogs at the refuge.

Danceuse is the first to find a home, and we hope that the others soon find gentle and patient homes in which to continue to recover from their earlier neglect and mistreatment. Happy new life Danceuse and the same to all the week’s other leavers, too.

Danceuse – ADOPTED

Let’s hope for another good week with lots more leavers.

Dog Show – more details

We promised you more information about the DRC Dog Show with a Difference, and true to our word, here you are.

First off, many thanks to Marcus who designed such a wonderful poster, which we hope you will share with all your friends. It gives a good idea of what we will be up to on the day, and conveys the spirit of fun which we are sure will be present on the day.

We are planning on starting the event at 11H00, when display and “taster sessions” of agility, truffle hunting etc will start. People will have the chance to visit our friends at Cancer Support France, eat some lunch (there is a kitchen on site and we plan to sell snacks and cold drinks), buy some bric-a-brac and perhaps have your pet portrait taken in Marketa’s pop up photo studio. Plus of course register for the competitions that will take place throughout the afternoon.

Regarding the bric-a-brac stall, we already have a couple of offers of things to sell. So yes, we are once again collecting your unwanted items. The longer you can keep them the better, as storage can be an issue, but we would be grateful for any donations.

We are very excited about the event. Having it in a tailor made location should aid with many aspects of the day. For instance the club has permanent kennels where dogs can wait while their owners are doing activities that require two hands! This means that anyone with a reactive dog can have a bit of a relax, not always easy when your dog is stressed.

Kennels to keep your pooch safe while you peruse the bric-a-brac!

If you would like to help with any aspect of the day, volunteers are always welcome. Nearer the time we will put out an appeal for cakes and other lunchtime edibles in the hope that this will help to raise some additional funds.

All money raised will go to improve the lives of the dogs at the ScPA Carcassonne, which is about 15 minutes drive from the Club Canin at Trèbes. The refuge will be open and who knows we might even have a visit or two!

As you will probably have guessed, this will not be the last blog on the subject. But we hope it is enough to encourage you to save the date!