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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

Yes, size does matter!

On Friday Moira wrote about some of the factors to consider when adopting a dog. As well as all of these, another thing to think about (and which she covered under the general heading of “breed characteristics”), is size and hence lifespan.

When people come to the refuge to adopt, they often tell us about their previous pets, and how long they lived. It is always interesting to note at what age a dog died. Whereas surprise is seldom expressed when a small dog lives to the age of, say 17, everyone is amazed when a German shepherd lives to this age.

In general the smaller the dog, the longer the lifespan.

The temptation may be to adopt a small dog in order to delay the inevitable grief for as long as possible. But not everyone likes small dogs! On the other hand, if you are a lover of Great Danes, can you bear the grief that will come way before you are ready to say goodbye to your beloved pet (not that losing a dog is ever easy)?

A small dog may be more suitable for an elderly person, as they are less likely to pull strongly, and can snuggle up on a lap. But of course a small dog can live to their high teens or even longer. What happens to the dog when his elderly owner passes away? At the SPA we see far too many dogs whose owners have sadly died or gone into full time care, leaving behind an elderly pet whom none of the relatives is prepared to look after. Of course the same applies to cats, but there is less disparity in terms of size and lifespan than with dogs. Thus although there is a huge problem of elderly people leaving cats behind when they die, it is not relevant to this blog.

On the other hand, homing a big dog to an elderly person is not the solution either, as the strength of the dog is often too much for his owner, and disaster can follow.

Sometimes we have the perfect match. I love it when an elderly person is happy to take an elderly dog. Or when a family with young children takes a dog who will be around until the kids leave home. It is great to see people thinking ahead like this.

Of course not everything can be predicted. Dogs die of things other than old age. But please, when thinking of adopting a dog, think also about size. It does matter!


Four adoptions!

Moira said yesterday that the SPA was going to be busy today, and busy it was!

First of all just after 2pm we had the departure of Mabrouk, now renamed Alfie. He has been reserved for literally months, which we don’t usually do. But there were exceptional circumstances. Chris and Monica were in the process of relocating to France and things kept being delayed by their builders. Now anyone who has been through this can appreciate how frustrating this can be; including the SPA itself, where the new cat house is still under construction. As Mabrouk was not particularly unhappy at the SPA, we felt it was only fair to wait for his new adopters to arrive.

Actually their house is STILL not ready, but they have got fed up waiting and have decided to rent so that they can take Alfie home.

New volunteer Jane, also in transition between the UK and France, came and adopted Zelda, with whom she fell in love whilst dog walking. Before leaving with her new baby, Jane walked several dogs, and she will return to dog walk once Zelda has settled in.

Next to leave was beautiful Brittany spaniel, Guérande. Two weeks ago a couple came to the refuge and left with the words “If Guérande is still there on April 11th, we will come and get her”. Now if I had a pound for every time someone has said similar words, I would be very rich. But this time they meant it, and Géurande was adopted today.

Finally we had the adoption of Monaco, now renamed Olaf. He was one of the two dogs who was reserved at last Sunday’s open day, and we are delighted for him. We always feel bad for the dogs who are in the “not quite puppies” category, especially when there are real puppies at the SPA, who risk turning people’s heads. Luckily just a couple of weeks after his brother, Monty (now Jed) was homed, Monaco hit the jackpot!

Oh, and Blossom had some visitors from distant shores, which might end up being her escape route…..Watch this space, as they say!

It was not all good news as we had three new arrivals; one a scheduled abandon and the other two were brought in having been found. I won’t dwell on this today, however, as the four adoptions left us feeling more or less positive. Not a bad end to the week. A day off tomorrow and we gird our loins for the week to come.

Mabrouk (Alfie) – ADOPTED























Guérande- ADOPTED












Monaco (Olaf) – ADOPTED



A bit about puppy Logo, and breaking the cycle.

An update on yesterday’s puppy arrival. He has been taken home to live (temporarily) with Isa and her family, where he has been named Logo and is busy settling down with their three dogs. Perhaps seeing the wonderful photos of their recent foster puppy, Jess, playing on the beach in Scotland (as recounted in Moira’s blog of Monday) was just what was needed to get Isa’s family over their sadness at saying goodbye to Jess and put them back on the foster train!

There was not much news from the SPA. Two dogs arrived but one was identified and was reclaimed. The other is a light brown elderly female beauceron who is a bit overweight. She is not identified and was found in Limoux. This town, so close to Carcassonne, really is the bane of our lives. They bring in way more than their fair share of dogs and the animals are hardly ever identified.

In my opinion (which admittedly no one listens to), this town would be ripe for some kind of outreach programme about animal care. Specifically the wisdom of identification and above all castration and sterilisation of both cats and dogs. As more and more people refuse to accept their responsibilities towards their animals, a spiral effect is created, with the population of unwanted dogs and cats increasing all the time.

Of course the townspeople do not like having stray animals wandering around, so the easy solution is to phone the mairie, who brings them to the SPA. Thus the problem is “dealt with”. Except it hasn’t been dealt with! It is ongoing. And it is left up to us, the SPA to find a new home for all the animals who arrive.

It would be all well and good if our walls were made of elastic. But they are not. Wake up people, of Limoux and elsewhere; it is YOUR fault that we are getting ever fuller.

If you care about animals please help us by talking to your friends or neighbours, especially if you know their animal to not be identified or, as importantly, neutered. It is only this way that the cycle can be broken. And if you have a good idea for an outreach or education programme or a way of encouraging responsible ownership, we will be happy to hear from you. We cannot do this alone!

Logo – in foster with Isa


D Day for Diego

A puppy arrived this morning having been found in a box outside a local supermarket. Inside was a note saying “to whoever finds me, please look after me”. Well, they did, in as much as they brought the puppy to the SPA. This of course was the right thing to do. The original owner could have done the right thing. However they are obviously lacking in some way, and prefer to oblige someone else to do their work for them.

At the SPA the puppy will be vaccinated and identified before finding his new home. A much better start in life than the lottery of being left in a box on the off-chance that the person that finds you is one of the good guys. This puppy was lucky!

Should I mention sterilisation and castration again, or is everyone bored with that? I certainly am.

We had two adoptions today. One of them has no Facebook album as he arrived on a busy day, and before anyone got round to taking his picture he was spotted by his new family. Being volunteers we are always short of time and so no photo of this little dog before he went off for his new life. We hope it will be better than his last life, in which he was left to stray all day.

But the adoption of the day was that of Diego. This beautiful boxer arrived in mid-January and we were all very surprised that a) he was not reclaimed and b) that he was not adopted sooner. A gorgeous boy; slightly reactive with other dogs but fabulous on the lead. And his sponsor came regularly to walk him, so he has had plenty of exercise while he was with us. Many thanks to her. Anything that can be done to make a dog’s life more enjoyable while he is with us gets our vote, but if I were a dog (no rude comments, please!), a regular walk would be top of my list!

So not a bad day.


A good day at the office!

The SPA is not open in the mornings, as you know, but sometimes a volunteer can be persuaded to show up to help out, especially if it means seeing a dog off to a new home!

Sanders has been with us since September, and has not really been the happiest of dogs at the SPA. Who can blame him, a young active dog with boundless energy, locked up in a small pen with an occasional walk. The couple who adopted him just locked eyes with him and knew he was “the one”. They were very busy, toing and froing between the UK and Ireland and so could not take Sanders straight away, but the day finally came.

In the meantime Sanders had been “MagDogged” (this has become a verb!), where he was calm and well behaved, and as many volunteers can testify, out of the refuge Sanders is a wonderful dog. So this morning there was a quick and emotional farewell from employee Antoine, a lesson in fitting a harness from Melissa (thanks) and off went “Sandy” to his new home. We already have news; Sanders was perfectly well behaved in the car and is happily exploring his new home.

But he was not the only lucky dog today. I mentioned in Sunday’s blog that we had had two reservations during the open day. Well one of them was that of Gaston. Okay, he is not your typical labrador, as he is sort of half size, but we still chalk this up as great adoption. Any black dog leaving is good news; a male black dog doubly so, and one of Gaston’s age (seven) is even better.

But then came the adoption of the day. Another black dog, and not just any black dog. Today saw the adoption of Chips! He first entered the SPA in August 2012, and apart from a brief failed adoption (he couldn’t cope with being alone), he has been with us ever since. Today a young couple arrived at the refuge in the hunt for a third dog. They already had two females, two cats and two children, so we needed a dog who would be okay with all three (or all six, to be more precise.)

They went off to have a look, and I went to consult with the employees. Each group drew up a list of “possibles”, and we met up to see if there were any matches. The first name on their list, their real “coup de coeur” was Chips. And he was on my list too!

A walk followed, then lots and lots of cuddles and a final trip to the cat house just to recheck. Chips will soon be leaving for Germany and we look forward to hearing all about his new life! Mum works from home, by the way, so Chips will always have someone to show him love!

Little Gemma was reclaimed (and is now identified) but her spot was soon taken by a new arrival (unidentified at present) who was found in Limoux.

But four dogs out and only one in is a great day’s work!

Sanders – ADOPTED













Gaston – ADOPTED












Chips – ADOPTED (after two and a half years)




















And new arrival found in Limoux



Looking for the bright side…..

Well, what can you say about an open weekend when you end up with more dogs than you started with? Somewhat sub-optimal, perhaps.

Today started in glorious fashion, with the Police bringing us four dogs. Thanks guys, just what we need when we have so few dogs and so many empty kennels in which to put new arrivals, says she sarcastically. Especially frustrating when it is “La Justice” who has brought them in, and so officially there is nothing we can do, apart from wait for the law to run its course. This can take a long time, believe me.

So, what else happened? A couple of people arrived in a state of “excitation”, shall we say, determined to reclaim their dogs today. I think they assumed that as we were “just” volunteers, we would not know the rules, and would just give their dogs back, identified or not. Nice try. Come back on Tuesday, if you can be bothered. After all, you haven’t bothered since your dogs arrived (in one case 11 days ago), so why the rush?

There were loads of dog walkers, which was wonderful. Several people came along with a view to adopting, and we had a couple of reservations, which helped brighten what was a pretty depressing day.

Other good things were the visit paid to us by Belone (ex Praline), who is simply magnificent. And Dastan came to see us, too, but I missed that, sadly. I must also say thanks to Sharon from Chateau Miaou for the cat cages, and also yet again to MaxiZoo for yet more dog and cat food. Oh, and we had cake and chocolate eggs, thanks to Anna (and my freezer) and Lucie.

See, there is always something to be happy about if you look hard enough!

Oh, and the stiff upper lip award goes to Suzy, who came along with Tracy yesterday to walk dogs. She was caught wrong-footed and slipped, breaking her wrist, but managed to type an email this morning to thank all the employees and volunteers for their kindness and to say that she will be back when she is better. Makes you proud!

Praline came to say hello!











And Bisou (ex Dastan)










Huge thanks to MaxiZoo

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And to Lucie (volunteers need love, too!)



A disappointingly quiet Saturday

Today was bright but windy, and although we are open every Saturday, we always have high hopes for the first Saturday of the month. Not only because for many it has just been pay day, but also because we are open on the first Sunday of the month, so in our minds it becomes a two day event.

Sadly today it was not to be. Not a single adoption took place. True, many people are away on holiday for the long Easter weekend, but equally many people find this an ideal time to adopt, as they have an extra day to settle their dog or cat into his new home before returning to work.

In fact numbers went up, with the “scheduled” abandon of a female setter cross. I don’t have the story on her, nor any photos, but I will try to rectify this tomorrow when the SPA is open from 14H00-18H00.

There was just one reservation, which is not much for all the volunteer hours that were put in today. However we would all much prefer one GOOD adoption than a whole bunch of ill-thought out adoptions that only last until the dog makes his first “mistake”.

A friend of DRC said recently that dogs are like toddlers. They need to be taught what to do when and sometimes it can be a slow process. We sometimes despair of people and say that perhaps they would have been better off buying a cuddly toy, but this is often the case. Yes, the SPA is full, but good adoptions only, please.

Many of us are giving up Easter with our families in the hope that the SPA will be busy tomorrow, so please come and show your support! Let’s get those animals out of there, even if it is just for a short walk and a roll in the grass, and together let’s try to get April off to a good start!

No adoptions today, but we did get a visit from Freddy. Now that was a GOOD adoption! They brought us a donation of dog food, too!











Thanks to the  Trèbes Sports Canins, always great supporters of our open days







The SPA is open tomorrow afternoon from 14H00-18H00


Two adoptions!!

Moira mentioned the dangers of Piroplasmosis on yesterday’s blog, and I arrived at the SPA today just as the employees were putting Scalibor collars on the dogs in the lower kennels. These kennels face the parks and the dogs are more prone to pick up ticks hiding in the grass, so they were the first priority.

The dogs in the other kennels will be given Scalibors as available. When we walk dogs they love to roll in the grass of the surrounding fields, so it is important that they are all protected. Sponsors have been bringing Scalibors in for “their” dogs, and we have received several by post. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.

On the subject of walks, I took lovely Gun out for the first time today (now he has his two vaccinations). And what a delight this boy is. On the way we crossed paths with a dog-loving elderly gentleman, and Gun showed what a good dog he is by approaching gently and nuzzling his hand. I was proud of him! Imagine a chocolate labrador with a moustache; that is Gun!

Today is the third of the month; and it is also the start of the second quarter of the year. Time to start a new album of “Adoptees” on Facebook. We divide the quarters like this so we can compare each “term” to the previous one, and each year to that prior. But who would be the first dog to be adopted and hence be the “poster boy” for the album?

None other than Skype, that’s who! He was adopted by a young couple who already have a border puppy, and although they tested their girl with several dogs, the chemistry between the two borders was the best. A quick snip later (sorry, Skype!) and this young lad left for his new home today.

And another adoption quickly followed. The lucky dog was none other than Black Beauty, who has not been with us for long; jut six weeks or so. I am sure that it felt like a long time to him, having said that. And he is very lucky, as black dogs tend to stay longer than those of other colours. This boy was a bit special, though, it must be said. Who doesn’t like a big cuddly bear, after all?

Another good thing about today was that there were no arrivals. How often have we been able to say that lately?

Lovely Gun had his first walk.























Black Beauty – ADOPTED


Another Amazing Adoption

Following yesterday’s adoption of Gordon, the rottweiler, we were not expecting good news so soon. Compared to last Tuesday, with its seven arrivals, today was a breeze.

There were just two arrivals, one a beautiful female golden labrador who is identified and should leave tomorrow (so no photos of her for now) and the other a tiny puppy, who has been called Limbo. He may well turn out to be a harlequin beauceron, and although we would like him to be in a foster home (and we did have offers to take him), we are not quite sure if he has a touch of mange on his ears. Not worth the risk of infecting a foster family’s animals, so Limbo is stuck with us for a while.

Then came the adoption of the day. And maybe of the week. Yes, even including the adoption of Gordon yesterday.

Panais arrived at the end of December 2014 and immediately let it be known that he was not happy at the SPA. He rubbed his ears on the side of his cage, resulting in his needing a bandage round his head (a bit like when people have mumps in cartoons). And he was not the most sociable of dogs. Lucky for him, though, he had a sponsor mum, who has been to walk him several times a week. Thanks to her, Panais has had lots of exercise and affection, despite his rather strong character.

But his sponsor was unable to adopt him, as she already has two dogs, and Panais does not like other animals. In fact he is not all that fond of most people. However today, out of the blue, and despite numerous “shares” on the internet, it was just a random visitor who fell for this little chap.

So today to resounding cheers, we bid farewell to Panais. Watching him in his new dad’s arms licking his face was amazing.

Oh, one final word, despite the fact that this is DOG Rescue Carcassonne, we like to help out the cat side of things when we can. The SPA is desperately short of cat transport boxes, if anyone has any lounging around unneeded. Ones with metal doors preferably. Many thanks in advance!

New arrival – LIMBO












Panais – ADOPTED













And we would like some of these please!



What, no Rott?

Whoever thought this day would come? Certainly not me. And the situation may not last long, but for now we are proud to announce that the SPA Carcassonne has no rottweilers in residence!

This is no small achievement. As most of you know, in France rottweilers are category two dogs. This means that permits are required, which are both time-consuming and costly. This puts some people off, and in any case, not everyone is a fan of this breed. At one stage we had five in residence, and there has always been at least one there since I have been volunteering some five years ago. I am sure there are very few volunteers or even employees who can recall a time without a single rottweiler.

Our final rottie, Gordon, was adopted today. He was not the easiest of dogs, either, but he was lucky enough to find a family who were experienced with the breed. They felt at ease with him, so he was good as gold with them.

And we had a second adoption! Many of you, particularly those who follow the SPA Cats Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/SPA-Carcassonne-Chats/184347501612210?fref=ts will be aware that a couple of weeks ago we had a mass arrival of felines following the death of a couple in a nearby village. Well, in amongst all the cats there was a tiny little dog, and today she was adopted!

At ten years old, Missy is a very lucky lady. One thing we know about her, she is okay with cats!

We only had one arrival, so it was not the worst start to the week. But remember what happened last Tuesday…..

Gordon – ADOPTED