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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

More new arrivals, but a “home to home” success and Canaille finds love!

By the time I arrived at the refuge at 14H05 we were already booking in dog number three. I felt like turning round and going home again!

Despite that bad start, Dog Rescue Carcassonne carried out another “home to home” adoption today, and we are very proud! This is when the SPA gets told of a dog whose owner needs to rehome, but who has the ideal qualities to go straight to a family, and where the current owners want to avoid their animal entering the refuge at all costs.

Doing a home to home involves a lot of work, good will and cooperation. Firstly we need photos and as much information about the dog as possible. We then post the dog on as many websites as we can, with as much character description as we can give. And people have to be honest. You can’t pretend that the dog is perfect if it is a snappy snarly creature, because obviously at some stage the prospective new family are going to see the dog!

Carole contacted DRC about Derek, an Irish setter cross who no longer had a happy home life due to losing his garden and long walks following his owners’ divorce and increased working hours. Derek had grown up with a child and appeared to be the perfect dog, whose owners just wanted him to be happy. They did not want to risk giving him away free on the internet, or even letting him spend time at the SPA, if it could be avoided.

A couple of weeks after first contact, DRC received an email from a family in Toulouse who had lost their 14 year old dog before leaving the UK and who wanted a new companion to share their new life in France. Moira got in touch and Carole helped arrange a meeting. Today the two families met and introductions were made. Derek seemed happy, and his new family were thrilled with this handsome gentle lad. His former owners were very emotional when they said goodbye, but knew that Derek now has the right home for him.

Home to home adoptions are a great way to avoid the trauma of a stay in the SPA. Of course it is not possible in every case, but when it works it is wonderful. Dogs must be vaccinated and identified and DRC ensures that they are castrated, as avoiding reproduction is one of our key goals, as you have probably realised!

We also have one bit of long-distance news.  Canaille has been adopted from Animal Trust. So all six dogs who left here less than a month ago have been adopted! A lot of us thought Canaille would be the first to leave, but sadly he tore a ligament and had to undergo an operation. He is still recuperating, but Eline of Animal Trust tells me that he will recover much quicker out of the refuge than in, as he is not allowed to go for walks, and gets very upset and excited when he sees the other dogs going out. In his new home he can recuperate properly; but don’t worry, they are well way that he is an active dog.

We at the SPA are delighted for all the dogs who have now got new homes thanks to Animal Trust. And we are happy to say that in two weeks, five more lucky dogs will be leaving; all of them have been at the SPA for way too long. Let’s hope they are adopted as quickly as the recent “batch”.

New arrival One

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New arrival Two

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New arrival Three – Bambi!

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Derek – today’s Home to Home

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And Canaille is adopted via Animal Trust. 6/6!

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Six more arrivals. We can’t go on!

I just don’t know what to say. Six more dogs arrived at the SPA today. We just cannot go on. One of them was a puppy when he was homed by us back in February. He is now back and by all accounts in a terrible state. Did we let him down when we let him leave with his new family in February? In a way yes. The family looked so convincing and whereas it would be nice to have enough volunteers to carry out a follow up of every adoption, this is just not possible, bearing in mind the number of dogs we home each year.

So who let him down? Well, obviously the people who adopted him, who signed a contract in which they promised to care from him, or in extremis, to contact the SPA. But someone else who let him down was the person who bred an unwanted litter. The root of the entire dog (and cat) overpopulation comes down to people not wanting to castrate or sterilise. Anyone who tells themselves otherwise is just in denial.

I am in despair, as are all the other volunteers and employees at the SPA.

We hold onto crumbs of comfort, like today’s two adoptions. First to leave was Jacqui, the little jadg terrier who arrived recently and was such a hit at the open day. Then we said farewell to Ratus, who, like Jacqui, has been with us so short a time that neither had been walked yet. The reason we have “out of kennel” photos of Jacqui is that someone with a camera was there when she arrived!

So another dreadful day and with no sign of this deluge of arrivals ceasing. We need another weekend like the last one, except this time with no arrivals at all.

Please, please, please sterilise your animals and stop inflicting this misery on all the unwanted dogs and cats, and on all the people who do their best to look after and rehome them. And please, if you are thinking of adopting make sure you really want to, and then go to a refuge and do not buy from backyard breeders. This  just encourages them to have more litters and makes our lives even harder.

Jacqui – ADOPTED

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And the sad reality of an unwanted litter. STERILISE and CASTRATE.



Old Lady finds her owner. Relief all round!

The day started with great news, even before the refuge had opened; the “old lady” who arrived yesterday was recognized on Facebook (how did we survive before social media?) and went back to her owner today. Several people had already contacted us to offer her a home; funny how the sight of the little oldies touches so many people. Thanks to everyone who came forward in “Mamie Nova’s” hour of need. In fact her real name is Anya and she is 17 years old and much loved. Not everyone discards their dogs as they get older, and we need to remind ourselves of this fact from time to time.

Thanks to Doglinks who were on the phone first thing this morning offering help, and also to Jane for nearly tipping over the edge into the realm of crazy dog-lady.

In other refuge news we had two arrivals, a lovely brown and white pointer-y looking dog who is a bit thin, but who will be just fine when he has put on some weight. Photos to follow, assuming his owner does not come to reclaim him, that is. And late in the day a scruffy female terrier whom we have named Gladys and looks a right character.

In terms of statistics, things are quite scary right now. Who remembers Moira’s blog of Sept 11th, when we were told that we had just hit the sad landmark of 400 dog arrivals since the start of 2014. Well today’s late arrival was number 489. Twenty-three dogs arrived during the last week alone. It is worrying and depressing and shows that our work will never end.

Finally and to cheer us up, here is a photo of Calie, recently rehomed via Animal Trust in Belgium. Unlike here in France, rottweilers are not a controlled breed, so Calie lives free as a bird. She is really happy and spends her days having short walks and her evenings being cuddled. Her owner said “ she behaves like a real lady when there are visitors and other dogs”. Fabulous that after so long at the SPA, Calie is living the life she deserves. We rally cannot thank Animal Trust enough.

A short blog from me tonight, but that is no bad thing. I bore even myself sometimes!

Anya – 17 years old and safely back at home







One of today’s new arrivals, Gladys












And Calie- Free as a bird in Belgium




One adoption, four dogs reclaimed.

There we all were wondering why little Berry / Fifine was still at the refuge, little knowing that in fact a family had been to see her on Sunday and just needed Dad’s approval before adopting her. He came along today and after a quick test in the cat house (which Berry passed with flying colours), off she went. Thanks Dad!

She was not the only dog to leave today. The lovely border collie who was found at the gates on Sunday afternoon was reclaimed. Her name was Guana, which may seem a bit odd to those of you who know anything about bats, but maybe it sounds better in French. In any case, she was delighted to see her mum and we are all very happy for her. Borders tend not to do well  in refuges, as many of you know.

The SPA was also able to serve as meeting point for a non-refuge dog, namely Maiko, a lovely black male who was signaled as missing by his distraught owners on the site chien-perdu.org. Of course as usual his photo was spread far and wide via Facebook etc. A couple found the dog, contacted the owners, and all of them met up at the SPA. The owner is now going to get his dog castrated as he knows for sure that he ran off in pursuit of a female. No one has told Maiko the news yet, clearly, as he is looking very happy on the photo!

I mentioned yesterday that Baker had been reclaimed. Well I now know who he is. He was brought in on Sunday, and with Sunday’s other two arrivals also being reclaimed today, that makes the whole weekend far more positive. And certainly makes this Tuesday better than the one we had last week!

Finally a lovely picture of Renee, who left for Scotland last week.  Her new family had a couple of social commitments which they felt may have prevented them from starting off as being the devoted dog owners they clearly are. And as Elinor and her family were not exactly in a hurry to say goodbye, they all agreed to leave Renee where she was for another week. Apparently it was all very emotional (no surprises there), but here is Renee with her new family and their dogs, as well as with her foster dad and two canine pals. Thanks again Elinor and Dave. Job well done!

Fifine (Berry) – ADOPTED
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Maiko  – still with his family jewels, but not for long!

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And Renee with friends old and new. Apparently she is now on “her” new sofa



Leika back, but two adoptions!

Okay, make that nine adoptions during the weekend. Leika was returned today. Before she was adopted we advised the woman to bring her own dog to the refuge to make sure the two dogs got on. We were told that it was not necessary, as her dog was a bit dominant but was fine with other dogs. Guess what? We know people often have good intentions, but when we give advice, it is not just for the fun of it.

So Leika, ten years old and missing an eye, is back at the SPA. Luckily we had not deleted her photos; sometimes you just know, although you hope to be proved wrong.

Or maybe we can say that there were ten adoptions after all, because had he already been micro-chipped, Guizmo would certainly have left yesterday. As it was he had to wait for a quick trip to the vet today before leaving. His adopters saw him in his kennel and were doubtless attracted to (or perhaps astounded by) the size of his ears, which we have tried many a time to capture in photographs. Now Guizmo has a new home, and this picture received on Facebook this afternoon shows his ears in all their glory! What a fabulous looking dog!

The weekend’s open days were covered by two local newspapers, and we hope that the open day effect will continue for a little while longer. Animals being adopted, that is, not people assuming that we have space to take their unwanted pets. When the two dogs arrived late yesterday they took up the last two empty boxes, so no doubt the employees will have been busy “mixing” dogs today, to see who can live with whom and thus make some much needed space.

Lovely little boy Tan/ Cheyenne was adopted, which was no surprise, as he was young and small and really sweet. In fact I am surprised that his female counterpart, Berry has not been snapped up. She is just adorable and is sterilised and all ready to leave. Oh, and a dog called Baker found his owner. Not quite sure who he is right now, perhaps we gave him another name!

One dog arrived, which wasn’t bad for a Monday. But I hope tomorrow is not a repeat of last Tuesday, which was a catastrophe.

Leika – returned after two days










Guizmo – ADOPTED (photo courtesy of his new dad)










Tan (Cheyenne) – ADOPTED

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Little Berry – Still waiting




Open Weekend Day Two!

Day two of the open weekend was even busier than day one, with even more visitors, even more walkers and delicious sustenance from our friends at Dog Park 11 who came along to give us a helping hand.

The day started badly, with the arrival of a young female border collie. She may well have an owner, but for now she is alone and trembling with fear in her box. As you can see from the photo, though, she is very affectionate, and she will be just fine, whether she goes back to her old home or finds a new one.

Then things picked up! First to leave was puppy Maki, one of last two of the Japanese litter. This sadly left Sashimi all alone, but more of that later.

Dog Park were busy putting dogs into the parks (well, it is logical!) playing with them and checking out their levels of education, with lots of sitting, staying and fetching going on (by the dogs, that is). Meanwhile just about all the dogs who did not get out yesterday had their turn for a walk today

A lovely family came looking for a puppy, but after discussion with volunteer Joelle, realised that perhaps they would prefer an adult, especially one whom we knew to be house trained, good with children and cats. Ha, easy, said Joelle, and shortly afterwards she was saying a happy but tearful goodbye to Springbok, who has had a pretty horrible life up to now.

I mentioned that one puppy was left after the adoption of Maki. Dany from Dog Park decided to see if anyone would fall for this boy out of his kennel, and pretty soon thereafter he left with a fabulous family. Great work Dany! I was delighted, as I hate to see a lone pup when all his brothers and sisters have left.

Then just before the official closing time, we had another fabulous adoption, that of Chinah, a brindle “not quite pup” who is extremely dominant. The family who have adopted her have a female dog already, and the two dogs were busy deciding who is boss, but in a very nice way. Chinah will need a lot of exercise and stimulation, and lucky for her she will be with her new “dad” all day, as he works outside and will take her everywhere with him.

So four great adoptions, one reservation, and loads of fun, cake and walks.

However as usual there was a downside. Apart from the border three other dogs arrive, one abandoned and two unlikely to be reclaimed.

Sometimes we feel we are running to stand still, but I tell myself that the dogs who arrived would have done so anyway, and thanks to this weekend ten dogs have new homes.

Thanks to everyone for a great weekend!

New arrival a lovely (but unidentified) border collie

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Joelle with Springbok and his new family

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Sashimi  – ADOPTED

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Chinah – ADOPTED

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Our friends from Dog Park 11 leaving after a hard day’s work!

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And one of several cakes that they brought to keep us motivated!

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Open Day Saturday – six adoptions

Today was day one of the two open days which take place each year to honour St Francis of Assisi. We are open the first Sunday of the month (tomorrow) in any case, so we were expecting today to be just a normal Saturday. But it wasn’t.

For a start the place was packed. Many people were obliged to park outside the gates, as the parking area was full. Plus there were masses of volunteers to walk dogs and play with the cats. The sun shone and we had no fewer than six adoptions, plus two dogs were reclaimed.

So to start off , Dyson and Hoover (whose real name is Caramel) found their owner. The reunion was lovely to see. But that was not the only reunion of the day. Till had been abandoned in May, described by his tearful family as the perfect dog, whom they were unable to keep due to their child’s allergy. In the five months since then their child has been properly diagnosed, and his illness has nothing to do with dogs at all. So they came back to collect Till. Thankfully he had not been adopted in the meantime (despite his impeccable references) as he could not be happier than with this family, nor they with him, I am sure.

Another lucky dog today was Sushi, one of our lab cross puppies. Just two left now, both boys. Then came another amazing adoption, that of Leika, the little one-eyed fox terrier who was abandoned at the age of ten years. She is lively for her age, but she is still incredibly fortunate to have been chosen so soon after her arrival. There are some great people out there.

Boxer Lecsi left too, she is gradually putting on weight and will be beautiful in no time now she is in a family home. A proper one, that is!

One dog whom I have loved walking ever since she arrived in April is Misty. Incredibly beautiful as well as distinctive, this girl was listed as being missing on the excellent website “chien perdu”. However when we contacted the owners to say that she was at the SPA, they said “Oh,that is okay then” and never came to collect her! Today she left with a family with three young children. A fabulous life awaits her, I am sure.

The adoption of the day has to be that of Whiska, who has been waiting not so patiently for almost two years. She arrived in a terrible state, thin and exhausted. She has blossomed over time and has become a fun loving and playful dog. Her adoption today was great news and we wish her loads of happiness in her new home.

It was not all positive, however. Sadly Peps has been returned after a week; he needs a strong owner to bring him into line, and he had this. However Peps’s bounciness and general enthusiasm for life will have to be dealt with in a home without small children. He is not at all bitey, but he is large, and with bruises all round, it was best that this boy come back before any serious harm is done. The adopter was extremely upset, and we hope that he and his family do not feel bleak for too long. They are great dog lovers and are welcome to come and see us again when they are ready. Sometimes you can only do so much.  Peps is the one that is to blame here; silly boy!

We had a couple of other new arrivals, but I will deal with those in due course; it is possible that they are just lost. Let’s keep positive for today; eight dogs leaving is not a bad total! And tomorrow is another day, to quote Scarlett O’Hara.

Till – READOPTED by his own family!

























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And last but not least Whiska – ADOPTED after 2 years (here with godmother Dominique)








And how she was when she arrived

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How Roadie became Brody

Both of the DRC bloggers are busy this evening on SPA business, and so tonight’s blog comes courtesy of Rob, fellow dog-walker and adopter of a dog who touched the hearts of many people at the SPA during his (fortunately) brief time there.

We promise a proper update tomorrow, and are hoping to see lots of you over the weekend, as it is Open Day Sunday!

Now over to Rob:

Roadie arrived at SPA Carcassonne in very poor shape, having been abandoned on a main road (hence the name), and found seriously injured. He spent several weeks in the refuge’s infirmary and staff were not sure that he would pull through.  It’s too distressing to give details of his injuries. After lots of patient care he was released from intensive care and came out for a walk in the February sunshine before being assigned a kennel.  I walk dogs at SPA and was one of the first people he saw when he came out and, timid as he was, he came up for a cuddle.

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight for either of us but I decided to foster him that same day so that he didn’t have to be kenneled. My partner and I had been considering a second dog as company for our eight-year old Alsatian-Boxer cross, Flora. Roadie and I travelled home to meet the family.  He was very wary of his new surroundings and of his new big sister. Flora, for her part, was miffed at not having been consulted, but tolerated the newcomer on the understanding that we’d be taking him back to where he came from asap. It took a long time for her to accept him, afterall, she’d been an only child for eight years but she’s great with him now, so long as he remembers who is top dog.

Roadie was a difficult name for our French-speaking neighbours to pronounce and a name with a harder consonant at the beginning is easier to call. We wanted his new name to be similar in sound for the sake of familiarity. Brody was the name of the hero of a TV series back in 2013 so Brody it was. For the first month or two, he was referred to, in a lilting Scots accent, as “Wee Brody” until he got used to the house rules after which, we were able to drop the “wee”.

Brody and Flora now spend all day in each other’s company, begging treats from neighbours, messing in the river and harassing the Roe deer which live in our forested valley. In the summer months they spend lazy afternoons soaking up the sun on the church steps, scratching round with our chickens in the back garden or squeezing through the rosemary hedge into the potager to steal cherry tomatoes. Brody’s a happy lad, very much at home and enjoying a life which is rich and varied in every season.  He’s loved and responds in kind with an enthusiastic and generous affection.  We’re all happy to have found each other.


Brody 3









And with his sister Flora



Two adoptions but two arrivals.

There is a poster that circulates on the internet from time to time stating that only one dog in 9 will spend its whole life with one family. This is a sad statistic, and reflects many aspects of modern life; we are far more mobile than in the past; we are in a recession and we regard animals as being effectively disposable.

When an identified dog arrives at the SPA it is very common to hear that the owner on the iCAD document has in fact given the dog away, sometimes many years earlier. This is where our team of amateur sleuths enters, and the hunt for the current owner begins. Sometimes during this process you come across someone who looked after the dog temporarily, while a “permanent” home was found.

Such was the case with Jimmy, who had passed through several homes before arriving at the SPA. The lady who looked after him before his “real” owners found him a new home was devastated to see that he was at the SPA. She got in touch with the Vide Grenier team on Sunday and Julie was able to reclaim Jimmy on the lady’s behalf. He was already castrated and fully up to date with his vaccinations, and his iCAD paperwork has been tracked down. No point in keeping this lovely boy at the refuge any longer than necessary!

Jimmy is well known to just about everyone in Quillan (I think the entire village has taken a turn looking after him), so it is great to know that he is going back to familiar ground, but this time to a stable home!

In other SPA news, yesterday’s spaniel was reclaimed (phew) as was a young shepherd cross who was brought in this morning. And Kaiseki, the chocolate brown puppy was adopted.

However two dogs were brought in, Dyson, who is a former SPA dog, and a lovely lab cross who has been provisionally named Hoover. Let’s hope their owners come to get them, otherwise we are back to square on in terms of numbers.

Jimmy sees Julie “Boy, am I  pleased to see YOU”

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And even happier to be in the car on my way home!

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Kaiseki – ADOPTED












New arrival – Dyson

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And a dog that may have the same owners, whom we have called Hoover

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Adoption of Ewa!

Today was better than yesterday, in that only one dog arrived! This was a five year old female spaniel, who may just be lost. Let’s hope her owners are looking for her, and that she does not become yet another spaniel looking for a home; the SPA is not short of them; we have no fewer than eight spaniel or spaniel crosses at the moment! They make wonderful pets and should really not be dismissed as hunt dogs, despite their superhuman sense of smell!

Today also saw the adoption of one dog who was lost and, despite his microchip and our best efforts to find his owners, he was never reclaimed.

Like so many of our dogs, Ewa is nothing much to look at. Another shepherd cross, nothing to distinguish him from the other dogs of this “breed” at the SPA.

And this is where the expertise and experience of both volunteers and employees comes in. Some people wonder why we volunteers spend so much time walking dogs. We could spend our time doing other things, there is always plenty to do at the SPA and elsewhere. However walking dogs helps us get to know them. On returning from a walk, we invariably speak to the staff, with comments like “he pulls like a tractor” or “she loves rolling around in puddles”. The staff know the dogs well too, but seldom have the time to spend with them outside their kennels or the parks. All the information helps build up a picture of a dog’s character and manageability, and makes it easier to match a dog with a potential new owner. Not forgetting the fact that walking dogs is great fun for all, and we save a fortune on gym membership!

When someone arrives looking for a dog with specific qualities, we have a mental check list. So and so is no good with cats, so and so pulls on the lead etc. And sometimes a dog just ticks all the boxes! Such was the case with Ewa. Fine on the lead, fine with cats, calm, mature, good with other dogs…..BINGO!

Lovely Ewa left today after four and a half months at the SPA. He is a fabulous dog, and at eight and a half years old, he is lucky to be given a second chance. His original owners lost a gem of a dog, and we will never know why they didn’t want him any longer!

So one out and one in….More adoptions required, but not a bad day!













Seven year old Gisele, one of our lovely spaniels looking for a home