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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

BTS Students shine; Charlot is adopted.

Today was a busy one at the SPA.

Firstly we were given a makeover! A group of BTS students have been working on a project for several months, coordinating this with Veronique and the other members of the SPA “Outreach Group”. The idea was to put up some new signs in the refuge to guide people round. They appeared at 14H00 with suitable equipment and got to work. Their creativity was evident; famous dogs were the theme, but we were all touched to see a photo of our very own King, former SPA mascot, now sadly deceased. Not only were his ashes distributed at the SPA when he died, he also has a plaque in his name as of today.

At the same time another group of students was busy at Leclerc in Carcassonne, with the most wonderful exhibition of photographs. As mentioned yesterday, this was designed to show off some of our animals and also encourage adoptions. Adoptions for life, that is!

Two dogs that thought they had a home for life were abandoned at the SPA today. First was two-year old Zelda, who was adopted from us (as Zizouille) about a year ago. She is on the “no longer wanted” pile, as is poor Kiss, who is not even one year old, and being male and mostly black, will have a hard time finding a new home.

Two other arrivals have a much better fate ahead of them. A poor young cocker spaniel was brought in with horrible scars on her face from a too-tight muzzle. Luckily for her the woman who brought her in has found her a new home. Assuming her owners don’t come to collect her, she will be off in ten days. And looking at her scars, are we happy to return her to her former owners? Hmmm….

The second to arrive was Jack, a 12 year old westie. His details were not up to date at Icad, but Carole managed to track his owners down, and he was very happy to leave.

There was one adoption, and although the dog had only recently arrived, it is a great example of how word of mouth works.

Everyone remembers Joy, the lovely Labrador/ Newfoundland cross who was recently fostered by Isa? Well a couple who had been interested in Joy stayed in touch with Isa. She and her family have just returned from a skiing holiday in the Ariège, and while they were there, they went to visit this family with a view to a potential adoption. Today the family came to the SPA to adopt a dog who had caught their fancy, and they left with him. Young Charlot has a home!

So a busy day but mostly a good one, despite the two new arrivals. Many thanks again to the students for their interest in the SPA. With any luck plenty of people will come along to see us tomorrow on our first Sunday of the month open day. And La Depeche is on our side, as ever!


The students hard at work










As were their colleagues at Leclerc










Zelda is abandoned










As is Kiss



















Charlot – ADOPTED


Chabal is reclaimed, Daisie arrives and another big donation!

No great news from the SPA today, except that Chabal was reclaimed. This was good news, as we were wondering what was going on. This beautiful dog was in great condition and was identified; furthermore the phone number was up to date. In any case, dog and owner are happily reunited!

We had one arrival, though (isn’t that always the case, no sooner does one dog leave than another takes its place). This dog will not stay long, though, I am sure. Daisie is a fauve de Bretagne cross and according to Carole she is absolutely adorable. I am looking forward to giving her a cuddle tomorrow; my fauve loving friends would not forgive me if I didn’t!

As well as my meeting Daisie, there are two other exciting events taking place tomorrow.

A group of young students have been busy creating and planning, and tomorrow is the culmination of all their efforts. First of all, there is a photographic exhibition and info-stand at Leclerc in Carcassonne which aims to inform the public about adoption, the trauma of abandoning an animal and also hopefully attract some visitors to the refuge. Of course donations of food etc will be welcome.

On Saturday afternoon another group will be at the SPA installing what our US cousins would refer to as “signage”. We are all looking forward to seeing what has been created! Please feel free to pop in and say hello; young people get a very bad press these days, come and see the other side of the story!

If you can’t make it on Saturday, you can come along on Sunday, of course, when we will be open for the first Sunday of the month.

Finally, further to yesterday’s wonderful donation, a big thank you to MaxiZoo, who as well as hosting us on collection days, also think of us in-between times, when they have a surplus of dog food. Look at this magnificent haul!












New arrival – Daisie













Saturday’s events












And a big thanks to MaxiZoo



A fabulous donation and talking to a brick wall.

I am sure many of you will have seen the article in the newspaper about the physiotherapist who has just donated 400kg of dog food to the SPA. His action was prompted by a mix up with the tax office, whereby he had underpaid (not his fault) to the tune of over €500. To atone for this, not only did the gentleman repay the tax due (which I hasten to add he had not deliberately avoided), he also donated dog food of the same value to the SPA. (http://www.ladepeche.fr/article/2015/02/25/2055531-vexe-kine-raille-secu-400-kg-croquettes.html)

British bankers, politicians etc could take a lesson from his book!

What an amazing gesture. Many many thanks to this kind man. We respect your desire for anonymity, but if we ever find out who you are, you can expect a damn good hugging!

As is common after blogs such as yesterday’s, we were flooded with people trying to lift our spirits with photos of their ex- SPA dogs and stories about how happy they are. Thanks to you all. It is true, we get very down in the dumps when dogs come back. In fact I often feel that we are more upset than the former owners. And to those of you who criticize our choice of owner, yes, we do ask the obvious questions, but no, we do not have time to do home-checks. And if we turn down every adoption where we are not 100% sure, then many dogs would never have a chance of a new home.

No system is perfect, but post adoption advice is always available.

Sadly there was no incredible news today to cheer us up. Yesterday’s beauceron arrival was reclaimed, and Alizeé took some wonderful photos of yesterday’s other arrival, the black lab, Ėbène. Isn’t he fabulous?

We had another arrival; a beautiful dog who was found in Limoux over two weeks ago. Okay, he is not identified, but the people who found him did not let the SPA know that they had found the dog. In fact they were planning on keeping him. They have now changed their minds, so they have brought him to the SPA. Who knows, had they contacted us sooner, perhaps we could have found his owners immediately.

I have come to the conclusion that this topic is like neutering and identification of animals. No matter how many times we blog about the importance of informing the authorities when a dog has been found, we may as well be talking to a brick wall.

Look at all this dog food! Thank you, Mr Mystery Man!










Yesterday’s arrival,  five year old Ėbène












A brick wall (is this you?)

02 - 1740 Swedish brick wall

The sad return of Pato.

Today we saw the sad return of Pato. We all celebrated when he was adopted at the end of January at the age of 10 years, and after 15 months at the SPA. We smiled with joy at all the pictures we received from his new owners, along with news of how wonderful he was. Then BOOF, the honeymoon was over. With no warning or no request for help, Pato is back at the SPA, having experienced a month of freedom and love. He does not like being left alone when his owner goes to work. Has she tried to solve this in any way? No, of course not.

A dog of ten and a half years old who has spent 15 months in a kennel has every right to suffer from attachment to the person who has “saved” him. Unless he is very lucky, Pato will now surely die at the SPA. He certainly cannot wait another 15 months for a home. Is he happier now than he was before, now he has been shown love and lost it again? Or would he have been better off had he never been adopted? Who knows what goes on in a dog’s head.

I know what is going on in mine, though, and it is not suitable for publication!

One thing that was clearly missing here sufficient reflection on the part of Pato’s adopter. Do not come to the SPA and expect to find the perfect dog. You may well do so, we have lots who are perfect. But think about your lifestyle; think about how much effort you are willing to make to ensure that you and your dog are happy; talk to the staff and the volunteers; take the dog for a walk. Don’t just go off with the first dog who takes your fancy. And if things go wrong, ask for advice!

Perhaps one problem with our “senior dog’s price” is that it means that your “toy” is even cheaper, and you are even less likely to put any effort in. The idea is to give our elderly dogs a chance, but maybe it encourages irresponsible ownership and ill-thought-out adoptions.

Something to think about, perhaps….

In other ways too, it was a day we could have all done without. Two new arrivals, one of whom, a black lab, was brought in by the cruelty inspector, plus a second, although he is identified and will probably be reclaimed.

I don’t like leaving everyone feeling down, so here is today’s “good news picture”. Look at beautiful Snow, less than a week after he left the refuge after over a month as a stray. What a difference and what better motivation for the SPA employees and volunteers to never give up the fight, even after days like this.

Pato is back. This photo was not taken today.












Look at Snow. Life after the refuge can be beautiful if you have the right owners!



Adoption of two new arrivals!

Today saw the adoption of Choco, aka Kaiseki. He, you may remember, was one of the sushi litter and he was brought back to the refuge at the start of February following a change in family circumstances. This was terrible, as he had been the cutest pup of the litter, the only chocolate one, and we could have homed him ten times over when he was a puppy. Instead he was just dumped when he was no longer wanted.

Luckily before things “went wrong”, Choco had been well looked after, and had even been to puppy school. So we were hopeful that he would find a home before too long. Three weeks is all it took. He went home today with his new family and news is awaited eagerly. I am sure this dog will be a star, though.

And he was not the only lucky dog today. Little Balzac had been with us only just slightly longer than Choco, and he too found his new home today. In fact fate played a hand here; a family had reserved him but failed to show up as agreed. So another couple who had seen Balzac on Saturday and were disappointed to find out that he was “spoken for”, had a surprise phone call today! They were very happy, as I am sure will be little Balzac!

We had one arrival today, a beautiful border collie called Chabal. We are sure his owners are looking after him. Everything is up to date on the database and the phone number is ringing as it should. Your boy is safe and well at the SPA!

Without wishing to bore you all to death about TRACES, last night’s blog should act as a word of warning to anyone trying to take any dogs other than their own (regardless of how recently adopted) to the UK. Our great friends Phil and Anita (who have 3 dogs from the SPA Carcassonne, plus one more) wrote to say that they were stopped yesterday at the Eurotunnel for the first time ever. After Passport Control all the dog passports were double checked and their details recorded. This also happened to another friend of the SPA’s, this time in Hull as she came off the ferry from Zeebrugge. Of course they were all allowed through fine. But don’t think you can just sneak dogs in, regardless or not of whether you are on the side of righteousness!












Balzac – ADOPTED












Chabal – Please come and get me!


Lucky day for two dogs.

The day was showery so although walkers were numerous, the walks themselves were sometimes short. However quite a few dogs got out, and so many thanks as always to oyur team of loyal volunteers.

When I arrived at the refuge Carole was trying to track down the owners of a 17 (yes, seventeen) year old dog who had been found wandering. He was tattooed (great), but there was no response to her phone calls. However Doudou’s owner phoned us later and came in immediately to get her beloved dog.

This old man had gone wandering because there is a female on heatt in his village. Those of you who are against castration, think about that, will you? In any case, Doudou and his mum are now happily reunited, to everyone’s relief.

The second lucky dog was Lucky himself! Yes, after sixteen months at the SPA, this lovely shepherd cross has finally found a home. Some of you may remember that he was homed briefly, but he came back, as his adopters did not believe us when we said that he needed an enclosed garden. He now has a 3 meter high wall round his play area. That should do the trick!

It is funny, we quite often have these non-descript looking shepherd crosses at the refuge. Lucky was not too dissimilar in looks to lovely Quirk, who left last week. Lots of volunteers are drawn to these dogs, but all too often they seem to go unnoticed when people come to adopt. We are all delighted for Lucky!

Apart from Doudou who left again, there were no arrivals. It was a good day!

Doudou – still chasing the ladies at seventeen years old!










Lucky – ADOPTED after sixteen months (not to mention the time before his previous failed adoption)


Adoption of Capucine and Border puppy!

Border collie pups or crosses seem to be everywhere right now.  I have no idea why this should be, but I do know why so many adult border collies are abandoned at refuges. People simply underestimate the amount of activity these dogs require and how intelligent they are. I speak from experience (not that I have ever abandoned a dog, of course). My husband and I looked after my brother in law’s border collie for 7 months while he was serving in Sierra Leone. The dog was more intelligent than the two of us put together. It was a lot of fun, but having a border collie is no picnic, unless you are prepared to put in some work.

So we are delighted to say that today, after the minimum amount of time at the SPA, Dark Angel has been adopted. In fact he did not spend any time at the refuge; he spent his ten days pound time in foster care. But he was lucky enough to have been spotted by the assistant vet when he went for his first vaccination, and it is she and her husband who have adopted this boy today. And yes, before you ask, they are experienced border owners!

We had another adoption today; that of Capucine. She is a lovely girl who has been with us since the end of September last year. When she arrived she looked sleek and lovely and the photos of her on Facebook attracted several people.  Unfortunately we fed her too well, and Capucine put on weight, so people were disappointed when they saw her in real life.

So it was diet time for her! This seems to have paid off, because she was looking lovely enough to attract a new family today. Sadly that leaves Tanguy alone yet again. When will it be his turn?

A lovely looking boy, Kirikou, arrived and left straight away, thanks to the fact that he was micro-chipped (YAY!), but sadly we had the arrival of yet another pup. Not a border collie this time, but a shepherd cross. He is lucky enough to have been taken home by Val, who has named him Loulou. Thanks yet again to Val and all our other foster families who look after our pups so well. It would be much nicer not to have puppies arriving, of course but we are a long way from that.

February 24th is world spay day, though, so watch out for yet more on the subject of sterilisation!

Black Angel- ADOPTED











Capucine – ADOPTED












Kirikou- reclaimed (thanks to being micro-chipped)













New arrival ten week old  puppy Loulou 


Fairy-tale ending for Snow

Once upon a time there was a very scared dog, who was lost and lonely and had no one to love him. Several people saw him. Some of them hated dogs and wanted him to be locked up or at least not be anywhere near them, as he was a big dog, and big dogs must be dangerous. Others saw him and wanted to help him. Because there are two types of people in this world.

They called him Snow, because the weather was very cold.

Now, the dog was so used to being shouted at by the nasty people, that he was unable to trust the nice people, and he kept running away. But the nice people did not give up. They left food and they whispered quiet gentle words to the dog. And after any days they were able to catch him. At first he was very scared, and he was nervous at being in a cage, when he was so used to being free.

But then he realised that the same nice people were there. Plus even MORE nice people. In fact now everyone was nice! He was given good food, he went to visit a doggie doctor and someone even took him for a walk. He panicked a bit and ran off, but then he remembered how kind people were at that place, and he came back all by himself.

Then some of the nice people who had helped to bring him to this safe place decided that they liked him so much that they wanted him to live with them. And today Snow went home with his new owners, and they all lived happily ever after!

Thank you to everyone who helped save Snow, the team of volunteers who brought him to the SPA, plus his new owner who helped so much, first by feeding this lovely dog for a month, and now by the ultimate kindness of adopting him. What a magical story!

And there was more magic in the air with the adoption of Linotte. We knew this fabulous girl would not have long to wait; Just five weeks, in fact. To be honest I am surprised it took even that long.

So two happy dogs tonight and no new arrivals.











Linotte – ADOPTED


Sausage is reclaimed and a word or two about fees.

Well, no one had a chance to rename Sausage, because he already had a name. Igor’s owners saw his photo on Facebook last night and came to collect him today. And as for his breed, he was, as many of you suggested, a staffy jack Russell cross. No, this does not mean that he is a “dangerous” dog requiring permits, as clearly he does not fall within the morphological parameters. All he needed was a quick visit to the vet for a micro-chip and off he went.

I cannot stress how important identification of your animal is. One of our Facebook followers has just had a very worrying few days, having lost his beloved dog Jackson. We shared his photo and of course were hoping for a happy outcome. Thankfully today Jackson returned, without coming to the SPA. Had he done so, we would have insisted that he be micro-chipped (because I will say it once again, IT IS THE LAW). However the first thing Jackson’s owner did (after making sure his dog was okay, of course), was take him to the vet and get him identified. Far too many people just thank their lucky stars that their dog has returned and hope that they never run off again.

We salute you, Sir.

Okay, now without criticising any other refuges or citing any particular cases, can I make it quite clear that when (or rather if) you collect your own dog from the SPA Carcassonne, you will be obliged to pay only for him or her to be micro-chipped, if he is not already identified.  And this is paid directly to the vet, not the SPA. We do not charge any “release fees” for your dog or cat to cover its stay at the SPA. It is very nice when people offer to give a donation and if we have vaccinated your animal we do request that you refund this, but we are usually just happy that dog and owner have been reunited (providing the animal is not mistreated, of course).

Just last month we had the arrival of a young, small dog, whom we named Plumeau. He was reserved almost immediately, but while the new family was awaiting the end of the ten day pound time, his real owners came to reclaim him. They paid the vet to have their dog micro-chipped and that was the end of that. Of course the new family was sad, but that is the whole point of the pound; it gives people time to find their lost dogs.

Recent events at a local refuge have caused some people to state that they will now never adopt as they would always be haunted by visions of sad owners who were not permitted to reclaim their dogs for financial reasons. Each refuge has the right to decide its own policies, but please do not be put off adopting from the SPA Carcassonne. If a dog is for adoption it is because we really cannot find its owner, not because its real owner is unable to pay for the dogs board and lodging.

Igor (aka Sausage) – Reclaimed (I  just wanted to show you another picture! Isn’t he great?!)










Jackson was found and his owner had him micro-chipped straight away. THANK YOU!


Three arrivals, but two great adoptions, including Cactus!

I drive poor Hélène, our translator, crazy with my attempted puns, so tonight there will be no more of that nonsense, I promise!

Today at the SPA was very mixed.  We had some excellent news, some good news and some bad.

Firstly the good news: Yesterday’s Italian dog was reclaimed. Her owner was looking for her, and had already contacted the Facebook before the SPA had opened. So it was a very brief stay with us for lovely Keyla. Two other dogs who were identified arrived and left again.

Now for the bad news. We had three arrivals. One is a fabulous long haired shepherd cross, who smells of horses (the man who found and brought him in has a stable, so this is not surprising). We have named him Black Beauty, in honour of everyone’s favourite childhood TV programme (that is me showing my age here)!

Arrival number two is a beagle who is still at the vet’s as he needs an operation on his ear. No photos of him for now.

And number three arrived just as I was leaving. He looks like a teckel with a staffie’s head. Is it wrong to call him Sausage?

So that was a bit glum. But the day was brightened considerably by two adoptions. First to go was Snoop, who had been with us for just two weeks. He had been adopted from us as a puppy and abandoned, but we all knew that despite his size, this was one special dog. He is going to be very happy in his new home.

And finally the adoption of the day…….After two years and a couple of weeks, today we said goodbye to Cactus! Yes, Cactus! Not everyone’s cup of tea in the looks department, or even in the character department, but a dog who was the coup de coeur for a visitor today! Let’s all cross our fingers and hope that this adoption works out. Cactus certainly deserves it.

Despite the new arrivals, the adoptions and reclaimed dogs have made the day a happy one! Especially as the volunteers were out in force, as was the sunshine!

Keyla – Parlo Italiano!











New arrival – Black Beauty












New arrival – Sausage (probably due to be renamed)










Snoop (ex Athos) – ADOPTED













And Cactus – ADOPTED after two long years!