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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

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



Two more adoptions.

This is the third day in a row when two adoptions have taken place. It would be great if this trend could continue!

Today was the turn of puppy Jeena (now renamed Fudge), who has been in foster with volunteer Isabelle. This little girl arrived on January 2nd and is absolutely adorable, although her terrier traits are already evident. Luckily she is going to a very dog-savvy family. As well as having read Moira’s Sunday blog, they were able to chat to Isabelle today and get as much information about their new puppy as possible. Another great advantage of adopting a dog who has been in a home prior to adoption. Thanks Isabelle.

Fudge left with a sparkly new collar, lead and harness, all in pink! Her new family will keep her paws on the floor, though, never fear!

Second to leave and just before we shut, was Echo. This lovely griffon cross was abandoned in mid-July, as the family was moving house and didn’t think Echo would like it. Well, I am sure he would have liked it more than he enjoyed the SPA!  Sigh. We do our best but it is no holiday camp, you know.

This dog is now seven years old, and maturity is one thing that attracted his new owner. She has been busy dog-proofing her garden, just in case. Funnily enough the family who adopted Fudge also liked the look of Echo. Who could resist that ‘tache!

We had one arrival today, yet another malinois, this time a female of just over two years old. She is chipped, but the address is hundreds of miles away, and without wishing to stereotype, the fact that the dog is called Weed is probably indicative of her owner’s unsettled lifestyle. Let’s hope he is looking for her, if not, that will be yet another dog of this breed looking for a home.

Keep your fingers crossed for at least two more adoptions tomorrow!















G is for Go!

It occurred to me after the event that the names of both dogs adopted yesterday started with the letter B. Today it was the turn of letter G, with both puppy Gossip and Ghost finding new homes.

Gossip has been in foster with Carole since her arrival on January 3rd, getting accustomed to other dogs, cats and children. She is a lovely girl and is going to make her new family very happy. Carole shed a quick tear, but then it was time to get on with her secretarial duties and prepare the contract for the days second adoption.

Ghost arrived on 31st October, hence his name. This stunning setter has become a favourite with volunteers and employees alike; the video of him on Facebook playing fetch is a joy to watch. He caught the eye of a couple who “definitely” wanted a female, but just couldn’t resist Ghost. They were looking after a friend’s dog while he was in the UK for two months, but they have been in on numerous occasions to walk Ghost.

Today was THE day, however, and Ghost was jubilant when he realised he was being invited into the car at last!

Two other dogs arrived and departed thanks to being chipped, but to be honest in the case of one of them, I would prefer that she had stayed. Her owner is planning on having “just one more litter” before getting her sterilised. He will keep one of the pups as company for the bitch, one he will give to a friend, but he has no idea what he will do to the rest. Sigh.

In a similar vein, and bearing in mind this blog is very canine-centric, I have to tell you about a cat that was brought back to the SPA today having been adopted on Saturday. Her owner wanted to see if she was still allergic to cats. Instead of perhaps spending an afternoon in the cat house at the SPA, she adopted a cat. Lo and behold she was still allergic, so back comes the cat. A cat is a living being with feelings, not something to be cast off like a dirty sock.

Still, that aside the day was pretty good. As I said yesterday, let’s hope things continue along the same lines.

Gossip – ADOPTED











Ghost – ADOPTED (here with his friend Aime)


Two adoptions plus two more in Belgium, but farewell Milou.

Two dogs were homed today. One was expected but the other was a wonderful surprise as it concerns one more of our long termers.

Firstly we (or more precisely Joëlle) said farewell to puppy Bandit, another of the eight Belgian shepherd pups who arrive just before New Year. Many thanks to her and her family for giving this little lad such a good start in life.

Then out of the blue we had the adoption of Bill. He was rescued by the SPA several years ago from a nearby refuge when they had overcrowding issues (at the time we did not and were in a position to help). He was subsequently adopted and spent 16 months in a home before they brought him back due to that old chestnut, “a change in circumstances”.

One thing they did not do much of when they had Bill was walking, as he arrived back at the SPA absolutely enormous. However he has lost a lot of weight since his return in April last year and has become a very handsome fellow. Today he caught someone’s eye and off he went.

On the not so positive front, today Marie-Ange said goodbye to Milou, whom she adopted in January 2013. At the time he was one of our oldest dogs, and it is incredible that he lived for almost two years to the day since going to live with Marie- Ange. Many thanks to this aptly-named animal lover for Milou and for all the other animals she helps.

To cheer us up again, we had some great news from our friends at Animal Trust in Belgium yesterday. Not one but two adoptions are underway. Yesterday Todd went home with his new family, where he has no fewer than seven cats for company! This is very much a trial period for Todd, as no one will know how he will behave in a family home, but Eline would not have left him leave if she were not reasonably confident that all would be well. Todd was very happy at Animal Trust and has made huge progress, so fingers crossed for him.

And that bundle of energy called Mylord has been chosen by a forester, so he will be spending most of his time outdoors. This sounds like the perfect home for this dog. Only Goonis is left, now, and in many ways he seemed to be the easiest of the three to home. No doubt his time will come soon.

Many thanks again to Eline and everyone at Animal Trust, particularly Sarah, whom we hope to see sometime soon for a refill!

Unusually for a Monday there were no arrivals. Let’s hope it stays that way for the whole week!

Bandit – ADOPTED























Todd – ADOPTED thanks to Animal Trust










And Mylord is going to have the whole forest to jump around in










RIP Milou and thanks to Marie-Ange for his two last wonderful years



Minor puppy exodus and Wall-E finds a home

Tonight’s blog covers two days’ news, and it is generally good, as overall numbers have gone down a bit. However as three of the four adoptions concerned puppies, the number of dogs at the refuge is actually up.
Okay, starting at the beginning; yesterday saw the adoption of Wall-E, a beautiful golden lab of just one year old who had arrived at the SPA unidentified a few days before Christmas. I hope his former owners have not just swapped him for a new puppy, or if they have, I hope they put more effort into their new dog than they did to Wall-E, who was completely untrained. Lucky for him he is very handsome, and his new family have a large enclosed garden, where this young lad can burn off some energy!

Then it was puppies all the way; two yesterday and one today. Yesterday Alizee and Val each said goodbye to one puppy, and today it was Joëlle’s turn. Michel-Ange, Romeo and Brigand all found their forever homes, and I know three houses which will be a bit quieter today. All three pups were from the litter of eight who arrived on December 30th. They are turning out to be fabulous pups, so much so that one of our foster families has decided to keep one, but if you hurry you may be lucky!

Many thanks to the foster homes, thanks to them none of these puppies ever knew life at the SPA.

The SPA had two new arrivals, however, both adults. I do not have any information on them as yet, but pictures will be posted on Facebook as soon as they are available. With any luck the owners can be traced, and if not we will do our best to find them new homes soon, so that they can be as happy as the four dogs who were homed this weekend.












Michel-Ange – ADOPTED













Romeo (on the botttom, feeding his paw to sister Juliet)- ADOPTED













Brigand – ADOPTED


The SPA PUParazzi in action!

This evening there is an SPA Board meeting which means that both Moira and I are busy, so SPA news will have to wait till tomorrow. But of course there is always something worth blogging about, even in the absence of up to the minute news.

When paying a visit to one of our dogs who will be leaving next week, his future family mentioned the wonderful photographs on our Facebook page.

People like me, who have a simple “point and shoot” camera do our best to capture the personality of the animals at the SPA by either a snapshot or a video. Other people have digital SLRs and of course the standard of their photos is far higher. Whatever the equipment used, uploading all these images to Facebook and other websites can be quite time consuming, but it is definitely worthwhile.

A basic photograph can help find an owner if the dog or cat is lost, and the value of such images should not be discounted. The websites chien-perdu and Pet Alert 11 are far more effective when a photograph is available. Such images can also attract adopters, of course, but for that, we also have our team of “Star Photographers”.

A couple of volunteers have bought expensive cameras with the main goal being taking decent photos of the dogs and cats. They then upload these to a sharing site, from which they are migrated to our Facebook pages (cat and dog) and of course to DRC.

Photographing animals is not easy, particularly when we are talking about some of the more lively dogs. Puppies move a lot, too, and as they are often in foster families, photographs are the key to “marketing” them. Last week a foster mum apologised on our sharing site for the poor quality of her photos, and immediately volunteer Audrey offered to come over and help, using her expensive camera. This is the kind of solidarity that makes us so effective as a team.

We have several regular volunteers who are often to be seen at the refuge, either in the cat house or waiting for dogs to return from walks in order to take their pictures. And of course we must not forget the excellent work done by volunteer Mish last year before she returned to work in the UK.

Other volunteers and indeed several sponsors have the right software and capability to make individual posters for diffusion on the internet, as seen in the recent competition run by Dominique. The winning poster was done in honour of Copernic and we all know how that ended: The adoption of Copernic!

So tonight we would like to thank all the photographers, whether they are “point and shoot” snappers or committed paparazzi. If you would like to come along and join us you are more than welcome to become part of this team, who play such a key role at the SPA.

A fabulous photo of Taser, who is still waiting for a home









As is 11 year old Tanguy











And beautiful Connord