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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

It’s Good to Share!

The SPA was shut today as it is not the first Sunday of the month, so there is no “hot off the press” news. However there is always something to talk about in the word of dog!

Yesterday I mentioned that we had some new volunteers. One of them could not join in the dog walking, as she is 15 years old, and for legal reasons we are not able to have unaccompanied minors at the SPA. She was disappointed, but quickly realised that there are many other ways that she can help until she reaches her 16th birthday.

We often talk about what is wrong with animal welfare, both in France and elsewhere. And what better way to change this than by influencing young people! There have been several outreach programmes into schools, both by the SPA, the Carcassonne Children’s Council and via other associations. This is a good way to inform and educate as well as to raise funds!.

But we must not forget that children and young adults are often extremely au fait with technology and are masters of social networking! Before the days of Facebook (or rather before the days when the SPA had a Facebook presence), publicising our dogs was so much harder. Now we have a team of volunteers and sponsors who post photos and create wonderful posters to attract people to certain dogs and cats.

This is one way that everyone, regardless of age, can help. And even if you are not creative or clever with computers, just a simple click to share an animal’s Facebook album can allow the animal to reach a whole new audience.

There is no better example of this than the recent adoption of Tigresse, who is not a dog, but a cat! Thanks to Facebook, she was homed on Friday after 6 years at the SPA. The way it works is simple; you share a photo on your wall, where it is seen by someone who has no other contact with the SPA. They then share it and soon the photo is seen by someone whose heart it touches et voila!

So share share share, people! And for the more creative of you, keep those posters coming!

Tigresse, adopted after over 6 years












And a poster promoting the six most urgent dogs at the SPA. This is also a Facebook event!



Tiger goes to a foster home!

The snow didn’t arrive but it was still very cold at the SPA. We volunteers are made of sturdy stuff, however, and many of us were there to walk dogs as if nothing was happening; as if our ears were not being frozen and as if we could still feel our fingers. Such devotion. It makes such a difference to the dogs, though, these all-too-rare walks, and unless there is actually precipitation, it seems mean to deprive the dogs of their outings.

We even had some new volunteers today, which shows great commitment!

In my dreams, lots of people would be at the SPA to adopt dogs to take them out of the cold. As is frequently the case I was disappointed.

On the positive side, there were no arrivals, even a planned abandonment failed to happen. Perhaps the owner felt sorry for the dog, who must have only just got used to living in the warm

However something wonderful did happen today and although it is very much early days, we all have our fingers crossed. Tiger, one of our old dogs has been taken home to foster by volunteers Alizée and Erwan. Things between him and their dog Tina are not perfect, as Tina is very jealous and can open doors. But they are going to do their best to keep Tiger.

Not only is he one of the oldest dogs at the SPA (he will be 11 years old in April), Tiger is also the joint “longest”, he arrived on the same day as Chico. Both dogs have been at the SPA since September 2011. Tiger’s case (unlike Chico, who is just unlucky) is quite complicated. He has cancer and at one stage was expected to die very soon. However he has defied the odds, and Alizeé, like many of the volunteers, do not want him to die at the SPA.

We are all hoping that this fostering situation works out and that Tiger has a peaceful and warm place for his remaining days (or weeks, months or even years!)

Now let’s get working on the other oldies!

Tiger – fostered 

Icy winds arrive, as do two dogs.

Well, with the weather turning icy cold again we would like to have dogs leaving as opposed to arriving. Sadly life is far from ideal, and today we had two new arrivals.

I was not at the SPA today, but I received a message from Carole to say that I would love the first arrival. I thought immediately “beagle”, and although Jigoto is not a beagle, he is definitely the kind of dog who appeals to me (not that there are any dogs who don’t  appeal to me, but I do tend towards long ears!)

More information on Jigoto will arrive in due course.

Someone who was at the refuge today was volunteer Isa, and she ended up taking home the day’s second arrival, a puppy who has yet to be named. This little girl is going to be a big girl, as we think she is a labrador/Newfoundland cross. Her date of birth is estimated as being October 16th, so one has to wonder if this is a Christmas reject. Perhaps she is just lost, but as she is unidentified, in ten days’ time she will be available for adoption.

Many thanks to Isa and our other foster families.  Remember it is not just puppies who are better off in the warm. We have several elderly dogs who are very fragile and who would love to be in a home. If you are in the Carcassonne area and think you could provide a cosy place for a canine, please get in touch.

I hope the week ends on a positive note; fingers crossed for tomorrow, especially as snow is forecast.

Jigoto – New arrival












Isa’s new foster puppy













Elderly Lagoon would love to be in the warm


Adoption of Deliss thanks to three Ms!

There was another adoption today, and although the dog has not been at the SPA for long, and although it was an easy home, that does not make it any less wonderful for the dog.

Little Deliss is only seven years old, but if you look at her vaccination book, she has already had four owners. And they are just the ones we know about. This little dog has been moved from pillar to post, which is bizarre when you consider that he is okay with everything. By this we mean he is fine with dogs, cats and children. Moreover he is housetrained and being a Yorkshire terrier, takes up no room at all. If you can’t look after a dog like this, then something is very wrong!

After being handed round for years Deliss finally arrived at the refuge, thanks largely to volunteer Melanie. He was then lucky enough to be fostered by volunteer Martine and today he has been rehomed thanks to volunteer Monique. Three M’s in action!

Other than that the day was fairly quiet, with no arrivals but lots of walking. The Brits were there in force, as DRC had just had a meeting and we were fortified with cake, thanks to Anna.

Snow is forecast for the weekend, which seems incredible after the lovely sunshine  today. Let’s try and get some more dogs in the warm everyone!

Deliss – ADOPTED


Two wonderful adoptions!

Today we had two fabulous adoptions.

First to leave was Pato, who arrived with us in September 2013, when he was already 9 years old. He is a big dog, who prefers living alone in his kennel. But apart from a tendency to attack car tyres (whether moving or stationary), this boy was fabulous on the lead. Hence he got plenty of walks thanks to the volunteers. But would he ever find a home, especially as his 11th birthday is just a couple of months away?

Answer: yes! This handsome lad left the SPA today for what we hope is a warm and happy retirement. Just leave those cars alone, big guy!

Then the second adoption, which was just as wonderful, despite the fact that the dog has been with us for far less time.

Miedo arrived in early November, completely terrified; having suffered heaven alone knows what kind of mistreatment. He has been lucky in many respects, though. He has been spending a lot of time under Carole’s wing; that is to say in the office, sometimes hidden under Carole’s legs, sometimes coming out to meet people.

Getting him out of his kennel to walk him has not been easy; the employees who  know him well were able to do so and hand him over to volunteers for walks. And on Saturday his sponsor mum, volunteer Sylvanie, managed to get him out without help (but with lots of patience). Progress was being made!

So much so that today he was adopted! Moreover he has gone to live with someone who is known well to the SPA, and we know that Miedo is going to be extremely spoilt! He is joining Doberman Eros, who was adopted a couple of weeks ago and who has already been on a skiing holiday!

Happy day!










Miedo (feeling the love from Carole) – ADOPTED


One arrival, no adoptions, but sunny walks raise morale.

We suspected that not every week could be like last week, and this is proving to be the case. Not that hordes of dogs are arriving, but in contrast to last week, adoptions are non-existent so far.

There was one arrival today, a fabulous looking boxer found in Limoux. I am sure he will catch someone’s eye soon, if his owner is not looking for him. Of course he is not identified, so we cannot contact his owner. Why someone would risk losing such a wonderful dog is beyond me.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and although the volunteers were thin on the ground, we managed to take out quite a few dogs. Just walking a dog in the sunshine can be really enjoyable, and all the more so when you walk a dog for the first time, and realise that he is a hidden gem. Such was the case with little Ewok today. Seeing this boy leaping around in his kennel, you would never imagine what a beautifully calm and well-behaved boy he is out of his box. He was a sheer delight, and what a lovey surprise it was for both Moira and me to spend some time getting to know him.

I hasten to add that other volunteers have walked him, he has not been locked up all this time. But with 100 dogs to walk, it is understandable that we have not met him properly before. He jumped into the back of Moira’s car, all ready to leave, but no, it was back to his kennel, sadly.

Apart from the reservation of the recently arrived Yorkshire terrier (which was a given), there was little in the way of good news, so again we are kept going thanks to the kindness of the many people who show their support however they can. Today it was the arrival of these lovely dog coats from supporter Gaynor. The weather is due to get cold again so three little dogs will be a lot warmer.

For those of you who were kind enough to ask about the poor dog with distemper, his owners were found (the dog was identified) and they are in direct contact with the vet regarding the dog’s treatment.

Okay, tomorrow is Wednesday, something good just has to happen, surely!

Today’s handsome arrival








Ewok tries to go home with Moira










Thanks to supporter Gaynor


Vaccinations are Crucial.

Today has not been good. In fact it has been pretty terrible. As well as the arrival of two new dogs (well, one is in foster not at the SPA), we had some shocking news from the vet.

This morning a dog (a young male beige coloured rough haired podenco) was brought into the vet’s surgery with advanced distemper. This is called la maladie de carrée in French and is one of the diseases against which every dog is usually vaccinated. If you look at your dog’s vaccination record you will see the initials DHLPP (or CHPPiL  in France) The D (or C) is for distemper and is part of the standard vaccination package, so there is no need to worry, providing your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.

Distemper affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, respiratory and central nervous systems, as well as the conjunctival membranes of the eye. The virus is passed from dog to dog through direct contact with fresh urine, blood or saliva. Sneezing, coughing and sharing food and water bowls are all possible ways for the virus to be passed on. Canine distemper cannot be passed to cats.

Luckily for us, this dog never set foot on the refuge, so there is no risk to our dogs. And of course we vaccinate all our animals. However we quite often come across people who think that a couple of years’ vaccinations are enough to protect a dog for life. Also people planning to abandon dogs often object to our request that they give their dog at least the first vaccination. But look at the danger they are placing all our dogs in, even if they no longer care about their own animal!

As I say, there is no need to panic, but if your dog is not vaccinated, please ensure that you take him to the vet soon and get him protected.

What a horrible start to the week. Let’s  hope things get  better.

New arrival – Charlot












New arrival (in foster)- Winnie . Nine years young!









Vaccinate- Keep your dogs (any everyone else’s) safe!



And Another One

Today the second to last of the Belgian shepherd cross pups was adopted from chez Audrey. Little Aprille, now renamed Macha, has gone to her new family. Audrey had great pleasure meeting them, saying what lovely people they are. It is great when you just know that a dog is going to be well-loved. Foster families get very attached to their charges, as proved by the fact that Aprille’s sister, Glinda, is staying at Audrey’s house for good.

In fact a dog does not have to be in foster for us to love it, and from a personal point of view a couple of recent adoptions have filled me with this same feeling of joy; just knowing that the dog could not possibly be happier than with their new family and feeling an instant kinship with the owners. Makes it all worthwhile.

Please spare a thought for puppy Juliette, who is the only one of this litter to have not found a home. She is in foster with volunteer Val, and is every bit as lovely as her brothers and sisters. Okay, of course there has to be a last one, but let’s try and make sure that Juliette finds a home soon.

There were no arrivals today and plenty of dogs were walked thanks to the many volunteers who came along. There was quite a procession going up and down the hill during the afternoon.

This has been quite an amazing week. At least one adoption every day, and in fact on four days were had two per day, and very few arrivals. Long may it continue!

What we need now is to get some of the long-termers out. As today’s news from Swiffer’s new family proves, just because a dog has been at the SPA for years, it does not mean he will be difficult in a home. Swiffer is house-trained and well-mannered and is adored by everyone he meets.

The team of employees and volunteers do a great job in keeping the dogs socialised; please don’t be put off by the length of time a dog has been with us! Come along with an open mind and open heart and find your own bundle of joy!

Aprille (now Macha) – ADOPTED











Juliette – Someone please adopt me!


The End of the Trend!

Well, we knew it couldn’t go on forever, but one adoption is better than none!

Today was the turn of puppy Harley, and once again we have to thank Alizée for her excellent fostering skills. Saying good bye to a puppy, or any dog in fact, leaves a big hole and we hope she and her partner are not too sad tonight. Perhaps it will not be long before she has a new guest, who knows!

We had an arrival today, but I am sure this dog will not be with us for long. I am not sure if this little boy’s owners are looking for him; but in any case if they have not come to collect him in ten days he will be available for adoption.

Deliss was born in February 2008, and is fine with everything, by which we mean other dogs, cats and children. Moreover he is castrated. I have a strange feeling he will not be with us for long!

I am sure the refuge has been as frantic as ever, however on the surface it has been a fairy slow news day. So I will take this opportunity to show you this wonderful photo of Ghost, who was adopted on Tuesday and is seen here with his friend Amie. Note the classic “mirroring” body language, just in case there was any doubt that these dogs are a perfect match!

Come and see us and let us find the perfect match for YOU, whether or not you have a dog already!

Harley – ADOPTED











New arrival Deliss












And lovely Ghost with Amie. Bookends!


And again!

This is the fourth day in a row that we have had two adoptions!

Today it was the turn of Paca, who has finally found the home that she deserves. She, if you remember, was brought to the SPA in a terrible state about three years ago. We brought her up to strength and turned her into a lively and outgoing dog who was adopted to what appeared to be a god home. But things change and people get divorced and of course the dog is the one who suffers.

An advert for Paca was seen on everyone’s favourite site, leboncoin. So it was back to the refuge for her, just in time for Christmas. Luckily she did not have too long to wait. A family who had contacted DRC a while ago saying they were planning on adopting in the new year, came along today, where Moira was on hand to show them our dogs. They knew they wanted a girl, and so their choice was not huge.

Paca soon worked her magic, and off she went, this time for good.

The second adoption was that of Glinda. The name may seem strange to you; that is because until recently she was called Jana. She and her sister Aprille were being fostered by Audrey, but as  I mentioned recently, sometimes a foster family cracks and just cannot bear to let a dog leave. So lucky Glinda has found her forever home already!

Sadly we had two arrivals today, as well. Firstly lovely Linotte, a female spaniel setter cross who is not identified and I am sure will have no trouble finding a home. And secondly we had the arrival of what looks like a rough haired beagle. He too is unidentified and looks to be quite old. We have called him Mitchum.

So two out and two in, but still a pretty good day!











Glinda (on the right) – ADOPTED (her sister, Aprille is still looking for a home though)











New arrival – Linotte













New arrival – Mitchum