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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

Two puppies out, two adults in.

Well, today did not turn out to be a day of mass adoptions as I had hoped, but two dogs, both puppies, are now with their new families, which has got to be good. Plus the weather was great, so lots of dogs had a chance of a walk in the sunshine or a play in the park.

On the adoption front, the “Camelot litter” have only just been moved from the infirmary, where they have been since their arrival, to the outside kennels. They have had their second vaccination now, so are no longer at risk. And being outside, of course, they are far more visible to visitors. Both Karadoc and Guenievre left today; let’s hope it is not just the “cute factor” that has resulted in their adoptions; remember, even the cutest of pups turns into an adult dog, and we want these pups to be homed well and for ever.

One dog who is not having the best of luck on that front is Taser, who returned for the second time today. This lovely dog risks being stigmatised as being unhomeable, as he has had two failed adoptions in as many months. If you remember the first time he was brought back for “failure to integrate with the cats” after a whole 24 hours. This time it was due to marital breakdown. So it will be third time lucky for this dog, who is really just a victim in the whole scheme of things.

We had another arrival today. And just a bit of advice. If you find a dog and keep it for a week without telling anyone or even taking it to the vet to see if it identified, then you are not being fair on either the dog or his owners, who may well be searching high and low for their missing pet. Furthermore, if you do then decide to bring the dog to the SPA, please do not do so at 17H55. We shut at 18H00, and admitting a dog is not just a case of leaving it. There are forms to be filled in, the staff have to find a place for the dog. Have some respect for others please.

Not that the guilty party will read this or even admit that they have done wrong, but sometimes it feels good to let off steam.

So another Saturday is over, and numbers remain the same; two out and two in. Oh, and I promised you a photo of yesterday’s arrival, Springbock. No sign of his owners yet…
Guinievre – ADOPTED












Karadoc – ADOPTED












Taser – Back again. 










Today’s late arrival.

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And Springbock, who arrived yesterday

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Bernie is back and a new garden ornament is invented!

The afternoon did not get off to the best of starts, as we saw the return of Bernie. For people who are confident with dogs, he is not at all imposing, but apparently he is very particular about whom he likes. He likes me and everyone else at the refuge, but apparently he was not quite as happy out of the SPA. It did not take long for the mum to lose confidence in him (did I mention that he looks like a big strong dog, even though he isn’t?), and the situation escalated to the point where everyone except dad (and the cat) was afraid of Bernie. So this little dog is once again available; we are recommending that he go to a family without children next time, just to be safe.

Each failed adoption teaches us something about a dog, and at least Bernie didn’t spend so long away that coming back to us was too traumatic. And there is definitely someone out there for Bernie, we just know it!

So from one of my favourite dogs to another, but one who had far better luck with her adoption. Many of you will remember Callie, who was abandoned along with a pedigree chihuahua and adopted in January 2013. As with many other dogs we get pictures of their adventures and I just had to share this photo with you. Perhaps this is not a normal place where one would expect to find a dog, but I think it makes a fine addition to any garden! Thanks for the photo Sam, it brightened up our day.

In other SPA news we had the arrival of an identified dog, so we will see if his owners collect him, if not, you will be able to see photos of him soon, and believe me, he is a stunner!

Tomorrow is Saturday, so with any luck the refuge will be busy and we will have lots of adoptions. Fingers crossed!

Bernie – A bit “special”? 









Callie adopted in Jan 2013 and clearly well settled!





Tayson has some R+R and 4 dogs leave!

Okay, I have a confession to make. When I wrote yesterday’s blog I made the assumption that Tayson had arrived at the SPA. I knew he was on his way, which is why I had the photo, and I knew he was safe and well. Now I confess; at the time of going to press even tonight, Tayson is still not at the refuge. Muriel’s parents think he needs a bit of r+r at their place. I am saying nothing, except that they are truly wonderful people!

At the refuge today Di came along with a friend, who had been given strict instructions not to let her leave with a dog. However Anis, she of “we are going on holiday” fame, had other ideas, so Di left with a bundle of Maltese Bichon in her arms!

And that was not the only bit of good news. Felicie, whose owner has been hospitalised, has found some friends to help her cope, and so Felicie was reclaimed. That is wonderful news; it was a very emotional reunion; even for those of us who were just spectators.

The next adoption of the day was one of my favourites. Little Bernie, who looks like a big dog until you see him up against an object of which you know the size. Look at him with this water bottle, for instance. No, the bottle is just one litre; Bernie looks likea big tough Rottweiler sized dog, whereas in fact he is just a little fellah! He and his Croatian microchip are starting a new life with a young mistress and her cat.

One big dog who did leave today was Halbus. This dog arrived chipped but owners untraceable in mid July. We knew it would not take this beautiful boy long to find a home, and sure enough a family fell for his charms just four weeks later.

As promised we managed to get photos of yesterday’s new arrivals, which are now on Facebook. Two “not quite pups” and a beautiful Brittany spaniel, whom we have named Ella. Let’s hope there are some Brittany-lovers out there; we have plenty of them right now, both male and female.

Tayson enjoying some rest and relaxation. There ARE angels.









Anis (now Alice) – ADOPTED

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Bernie – ADOPTED (form Croatia with love)

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And Halbus – ADOPTED













New arrival – Ella…..Please someone, choose me!


Tayson is back….plus three in and three out.

On August 17th DRC put out an urgent appeal for someone to collect former SPA resident Tayson from a refuge in Department 07, where he had arrived as a stray. Any dog adopted from the SPA Carcassonne will always have a home with us. I lose count of the number of dogs who “belong” to other refuges who refuse to take them back when they show up at the SPA Carcassonne. Pleading over-crowding is all well and good, but do you really think things are any easier for us?

In any case, within 30 minutes of the appeal, we had no fewer than three offers of help. Many thanks to Steve and Sue, Pauline and Wally (both couples have adopted at least one dog from the SPA Carcassonne) and mostly to Muriel’s parents, who were first to respond and so, based solely on that criteria, were the ones “chosen” to rescue Tayson. I am sure that the French network would have come up with a solution pretty quickly too, the SPA Carcassonne is blessed with fabulous supporters for whom animals are a priority.

You will all be relieved to know that Tayson is now back at the SPA, very thin and undernourished, but at least he is safe.

So how did this situation come to pass? Why was Tayson left to wander for we suspect several weeks with his owner failing to notify us? Had we known we could have put out appeals on Facebook for people to keep an eye out for this boy; after all he is a big dog and is friendly and approachable. I suppose the new owner did not wish to admit that he had lost Tayson. We know that Tayson likes to wander and we emphasised this when he was adopted; some people hate admitting they are wrong, even when a dog’s life is at stake!

We do not refuse to let dogs leave our department like some refuges, citing the difficulty of follow-up. We home dogs all over France and abroad, too. Quite often the further away the dog, the more news we have; look at the wonderful photos we have of the dogs in the UK and Belgium, sometimes years after they were adopted. So no, this experience will not change the way we rehome our dogs. But we perhaps need to emphasise to people that if there is a problem, keeping quiet about it is not an option. The appeal to collect Tayson proved that we can sort out most messes, even if in a perfect world every adoption would work out first time.

Shockingly this is Tayson’s fifth time at the SPA. His next home has to be the right one. When we say that a dog needs a well-enclosed garden, we are not saying it because we have shares in a fence company!

There were three adoptions at the SPA today, just to brighten things up. Guismo left after having been spotted yesterday by the adopters of Granite (now Whisky). They wanted an older dog to be company for Whisky, but he or she had to be housetrained and cat-friendly, which we knew to be the case with Guismo! The other lucky dogs were Yorkie and Stella.

Just to balance things out, though, three non-identified dogs were brought in. Photos of them to follow tomorrow, all being well.

Tayson looking for a lift home












And on his way, looking happier already with Muriel’s mum!










Guismo – ADOPTED









Yorkie – ADOPTED












Stella – ADOPTED



Yesterday’s adoption of Scampi and some new arrivals for you to meet!

At the end of July a tiny pup arrived at the refuge. He was scared, anxious but most of all, like all very young pups, he was at risk. Although the refuge is a safe haven for lost dogs, when it comes to tiny pups who are not vaccinated it can be a very dangerous place. Sometimes we are able to isolate pups in the infirmary, but a litter of six had arrived the day before, and the cat house was full too.

Luckily, despite the fact that she was already looking after Vixen till her new mum had moved to France, Martine offered Scampi a foster home.  As well as avoiding the risks of infection pups are much better off in foster homes for many reasons: Puppies have a window for socialisation when they need to be exposed to different people, surfaces, sounds, toys and of course other dogs and animals. This is achieved in a much safer way in a good foster home rather than at the refuge. Scampi proved to be a very happy little chap who loved Martine’s dog and cats and was delighted to meet new people.

It’s always difficult as a foster mum to decide when is the best time for a pup to come back to the SPA. On one hand if the pup is at the SPA, the chances of adoption are much higher as potential adopters can see him, but on the other its heart-breaking to leave a dog at the SPA once you have become attached to it. At Carole’s suggestion, Martine intended to do as Carole had done so successfully with Jeena,  that is bring Scampi to the refuge at 14H00 and collect him at 18H00.  This way he could be seen by potential adopters but go ‘home’ in the evening.

As luck would have it this wasn’t necessary as Scampi was reserved on Saturday and adopted on Monday!  He left with his new family who already have a young Labrador so will have a super playmate. Many thanks to Martine, who has already had news, and so knows that Scampi is safe and well in his new home.

In other refuge news, Team Brit was out walking today, as it wasn’t too hot. And I got to meet three of our new dogs. First there is nine year old Anis,a Bichon Maltese, who was abandoned on Saturday for the best reason I have ever heard….wait for it: “We are going on holiday”! At least they were honest, even if it didn’t get them much sympathy!

Then there is Felicie, a tiny four year old shih-tzu/ teckel cross, whose owner has been hospitalised (now there is a proper  excuse). And finally we have Ilda, a tiny basset fauve de Bretagne, whom we have been trying to place directly to another home, in an attempt to avoid the SPA. We failed, sadly, but hopefully it won’t be too long till she is adopted!

Scampi – ADOPTED










Anis – Abandoned because holidays are the most important thing in the world.












Felicie- new arrival (owner hospitalised)












Ilda – Abandoned at one year old







Adoption of Rex after 15 months!

In May 2013 a dog was brought to the SPA who was already well known to us. Like many other of our regular visitors, we knew Rex’s owner and were expecting him to come and reclaim his dog, as he had done on previous occasions. Actually to be fair, the previous time it was employee Melissa who had delivered Rex to a location convenient to his owner, who does not own a car. Or a house. Having a dog when you are homeless is not easy, but there is usually such a strong bond that somehow things work out.

Rex was always in great condition when he arrived at the refuge, and was micro chipped we had no reason to suspect that this time he would not be collected. Attempts were made to contact his owner via organisations such as the Resto de Coeur, but after the days stretched into weeks then months, we realised that Rex was now truly homeless.

Bear in mind that this is a dog who was used to living on the street. He knew little about leads, and certainly was not happy at being deprived of his liberty. Hugely affectionate, it was difficult to leave Rex in his kennel after a walk, as he would do his best to keep you with him just to have human contact. Very sad.

Rex had been with us for over 15 months with no one, apart from volunteers and employees paying him any attention. Then last week thanks to volunteer Laurène, his plight was highlighted in The Independent. And BINGO!

Rex left the SPA today to live in a huge garden of 1700 m2 somewhere near Paris with a couple who were holidaying in Carcassonne and decided to take a wonderful souvenir home with them. Lucky, lucky Rex.

So although there was only one adoption today, it was a goodie!

Rex with his new mum and dad











And this is probably my favourite photo of him, with volunteer Isabelle, who is on holiday so was not able to say goodbye to her favourite dog.


Two adoptions and two reservations, Plus four dogs are reclaimed!

Before the refuge had opened and before many of the staff had even arrived for work this morning, we had our first adoption! Little Vixen, one of our Golden Oldies, had left on the long journey to Brittany to meet her new mum, who had fallen in love with her on the Internet. This was not Elaine’s first adoption from us, she gave a wonderful new home to arthritis-sufferer Ebene (now Ebony) over two years ago. She is now getting the best of care, and the same will undoubtedly be true of Vixen.

Many many thanks to Martine for being “foster mum” for so long and for keeping Vixen, who is about 13 years old, out of the heat of the refuge. It was not easy going at first, as Vixen wanted to “play” with the cats, but a bit of patience and understanding sorted that out, and Vixen had a lovely time until she was able to travel to her new home. Thanks also to Doglinks who sent Elaine our way, just as they did for Ebony. Martine’s house must be quite quiet, were it not for puppy Scampi and all the cats, that is!

That was not the only adoption of the day. Lovely Olaff, who has been with us since being rescued from being thrown off a bridge in Limoux went to his new home! What a wonderful turn his life is about to take, from the abused dog of a violent man, to a beloved family pet, all in the space of six weeks! Olaff is only 18 months old, so very soon the horrors of his past will be forgotten.

There were two more reservations, and believe it or not, four of the five of the dogs who arrived yesterday (I know, I didn’t tell you, because I didn’t want to worry you!) were reclaimed!

Not such a bad day, all in all.

Vixen  – 13 years old and ADOPTED







Olaff- from abuse to happiness in six weeks

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Isa and Canelle on tour, plus four adoptions!

While the majority of us have been going about our normal day to day lives and maybe relaxing in the sun, one of our volunteers has doing quite the opposite!

Isa, together with her ex-SPA Carcassonne dog Canelle, has been taking part in the Trophée Des Montagnes, a ten day cani-cross event, in the Alps. We have been following their progress on Facebook, and yesterday was the final day. It has not been an easy course. Isa suffered from a bad ankle and at one stage it looked like she may have to pull out of the event completely. But she stuck with it, despite some very rocky looking terrain and even unlit night runs! Canelle caught heat stroke on two occasions, and Isa had to run with other dogs. This meant that she was not able to be placed in the general classification, but she finished, nonetheless, and with a smile on her face, as usual. Best of all, Canelle had recovered enough to Join Isa for the final photo shoot. She has since had a full doggy MOT and has been given a clean bill of health, so at the end of September she and Isa will be taking part in the French championships.  We will tell you all about that in due course.

Everyone at the SPA loves following Canelle’s adventures with Isa. And we adore the fact that Isa is proud to tell everyone that Canelle came from the SPA Carcassonne. What better advertising can you get than that?

On the subject of “advertising”, from time to time one of our volunteers, Laurène, writes an article for the press in order to publicise a SPA dog, and sometimes it pays off. Such is the case with this week’s chosen dog. I am so excited that I am nearly bursting at the seams. Those of you who read the l’Independant will know who the dog of the week was, so it will be no surprise to you when he leaves, but for the rest of you, a bit of patience is needed.

But never fear, there is more news! Two dogs who arrived today were reclaimed, and we had four further adoptions, including Puppy Percival and DRC sponsor dogs Gallopin and Chavanel, plus a German Shepherd who was adopted by the people who had found him and brought him in.

An excellent day!

Isa and Canelle at the finish line! Stars!












Gallopin – ADOPTED

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Chavanel – ADOPTED












Percival – ADOPTED












And the people who brought this dog in came to adopt him. Lucky boy!




Help, my dog has bitten, what should I do?

This is a question that has been asked many times at the SPA, and I think it is an important one for those of us living in France. What should we do if the unthinkable happens and our dog bites someone, be it a stranger or a family member.

There is a French law that relates to this. Decree of 21 April 1997 concerning animals who have scratched or bitten relative to article 232-1 of the rural code, and law number 2008-582 of 20th June 2008 modifying the rural code, just in case you ever need to quote these to anyone.

The law states that the fact that the dog has bitten should be reported to the mayor. After this, the dog should undergo 3 visits to a vets for blood tests (even if he is vaccinated against rabies) and for an assessment of character. The first visit should be made within 48 hours of the bite, and then at weekly intervals. If the dog gets a clean bill of health, (both in terms of rabies and behaviour) then that is normally the end of the matter. But of course it depends very much on whom your dog has bitten, and how hard!

In practice, if your dog is vaccinated against rabies, the person who has been bitten (the “bitee”) may be suitably mollified. But this is not always the case.

A friend of mine’s dog bit someone on the rear end, not very hard, but enough to draw blood. The woman’s doctor requested that the dog go for the three vet’s visits, but no report was made to the mayor, as the “bitee” was very good humoured about it, and just wanted to be sure that she was not at risk of rabies. If a bite is serious, things are very different, and sadly if a vet determines that a dog risks re-offending, then the dog may have to be put to sleep.

Of my four dogs, only one, Bella, risks nipping. She came from the SPA, and had been badly beaten beforehand. However her biting is directed solely against things that move quickly. She loathes joggers and cyclists, and although I do my very best to avoid places where they are likely to be, about once a fortnight we come across some intrepid soul on a mountain bike. If Bella is not on the lead, she will fly after them with bared teeth. If they stop, she will let herself be patted, but as soon as the movement starts, she is off again. I try and get her on the lead as soon as possible, but I do not keep her on all the time, as meeting a sportsman is so rare that it is a shame to never let my dog off “just in case”.

If she does ever bite (so far touch wood she has not done so, apart from her first time at dog school and Carole has forgiven her!), I will keep her on the lead at all times for her own protection. At the vets she is placid and calm, so there is no way she would be classed as dangerous. Unless you are a cyclist or jogger, that is!

Of course the best thing is to avoid letting your dog bite. If you know he or she has triggers, avoid them as much as possible, and it is worth giving him a rabies injection as this may reassure people should disaster strike. Bella has been vaccinated against rabies, my other dogs have not.

If a “biter” is brought to the SPA, we need to know all about the circumstances of the bite. It is not always the dog’s fault, and a classic is an unsupervised dog with a child. Who knows if the dog was provoked and was merely trying to defend itself? However I understand completely why a family would lose confidence in the dog and no longer wish to keep it. It does not make the dog unhomeable, however. We just need to make sure that his new owners are aware and that the dog is either not homed with children, or that he is not given the opportunity to bite again.

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Four adoptions including a long- termer!

Four adoptions today, one of which concerns one of our long termers! So despite the number of dogs arriving, when you consider the fact that within the last week we have seen no fewer than four of our long timers leave (by long timers I mean dogs who have been with us for over a year), you will understand that we are quite upbeat overall.

Today was the big day for Kaira, a beautiful dogue de Bordeaux, who had been with us since March 2013. She was abandoned due to a change in family circumstances, and has not had the best time at the SPA. For one thing she really missed her family so would pace round her kennel with a toy in her mouth praying that someone would throw it for her. Secondly, she has a tendency to gobble her food, and several months ago we thought we had lost her when she nearly died from a twisted gut. She pulled through but has to be watched while she is eating. Kaira is not the most lady-like of dogs when it comes to food, it must be said!

Her kennel mate, Chico is now alone, but not for long, we will soon find him a new pal, as he is great with other dogs. Who knows, perhaps he will be the next long termer to find a home!

More good news too. Puppy Jeena was adopted and now has a home of her own. She will leave a big hole in the home of her foster family, who have looked after her since she arrived at the refuge. Our border cross, Emie, was adopted too and a life of activity awaits; perfect for her breed.

Arthur, one of Camelot puppies was adopted yesterday too. He was one of the pups you saw in the bath tub a couple of days ago and was the first of this litter to find a home. Still five left, plus Scampi who is in foster, as well as several “not quite pups”, who sadly tend to get forgotten about when there is something younger and cuter at the SPA.

Finally Coffee found a home. I am a bit annoyed as a UK based website is about to feature him as their dog of the week. But of course, their goal, as ours, was to find him a home, and he has one now, so I will contact them with another dog for their site.

A great day all in all.

Kaira- ADOPTED after nearly 18 months

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Arthur – ADOPTED












Coffee – ADOPTED

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