Home / Author Archives: Darcey Dyson (page 120)

Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

New display on Sunday open day.

Today was the regular first Sunday of the month open day, and as ever, a devoted team of volunteers was there to show people around, introduce prospective adopters to both dogs and cats, and of course take some lucky dogs out for a walk.. Several of them were washed too, although with the massive hail storm that finished the afternoon, I would not be surprised in many of the volunteers did not get a good soaking too!

Of course an open day is always a good time to do some sorting out and tidying up, and today’s great leap forward was the installation of a new display unit for the leads and collars. This arrived thanks to Ve Ro, whose pharmacist no longer required it. So, as Ve Ro put it, “I picked it up from the bin”. Well, as people say, ones man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure. The amount of time volunteers and staff spend trying to untangle leads and collars, this stand will pay for itself in no time. Especially as it was free!  😀

Other than that we had a visit from Julia, the recently adopted staffie cross, whose fur now feels soft as a teddy bear’s and who cannot stop smiling. And neither can her owners!

Both dogs and cats had a photo shoot, thanks to Tiffany. And as usual some generous people came by with gifts in the form of treats or collars for their favourite refuge “inmates”.

The reservation was finalised for one lucky dog who will be leaving tomorrow, and other introductions were made, which I am pretty sure will result in an adoption. More excitingly, final arrangements were made for a stupendous adoption that is due to take place later this week. I want to tell you more, but I want to make you wait too. I have a sadistic streak, I know. However I promise that you will not be disappointed!

Thanks to everyone who came along today. Rain or shine (and we had both, not to mention hailstones the size of marbles), the volunteers (and some employees) are there!

A visit from Julia, soft as a teddy bear!
2014-07-06 14.46.58








The new display stand, thanks to Ve Ro. No more playing with knots!

2014-07-06 15.44.14

Sven leaves and photos of new arrivals.

Today, as with most Thursdays, it was British day, with Anglophone volunteers busy taking dogs out on walks. We had been planning on doing some dog-bathing, but as it was not too hot, we took the opportunity to get some dogs out for a stroll or a play in the parks.

We also took pictures of the recent arrivals, two yesterday and three today. Two of today’s are identified, and are real breeds, (one is even a pedigree), so with any luck both Choice and Chabal will be reclaimed. The same is not so of today’s other newbie, who arrived just before closing, a Brittany spaniel who is not identified. Yesterday’s two are not identified either, but both of them are lovely and gentle, so with any luck they will soon find a home. Although with summer approaching adoptions are slow slow slow. And arrivals are filling up the SPA faster than any of us would like.

A couple did tour the refuge with a view to adopting a small dog for an apartment. And guess who they chose? None other than Allyah! So that is six people who wanted this little girl. They left disappointed, sadly for them. I have no doubt that today’s arrival, Tibetan spaniel Choice, will have the same appeal should his owners not come to claim him.

In other news Sven’s owners finally came to collect him. I can’t understand why anyone would wait a week before coming to collect their dog, but it takes all sorts. At least he is now identified.

So a typical refuge day in many ways, with a brief moment of happiness for the relatively few dogs who were walked or played in the park, and frustration for the others who were waiting their turn. With the number of dogs we have relative to the number of walkers, it is a miracle if a dog gets a walk once every two weeks. We keep a list of who has been out when, but it is a never ending task. We need more boots on the ground, so if you can possibly spare some time to help us out, you would be most welcome. It is best to come along when there are other volunteers there at first (so Tuesdays or Thursdays), then when you have got the hang of things you can come along whenever you like, especially if you speak (or ARE) French. Walking dogs makes them happy, and it enables us to get to know them better, which means we are able to find them the right home.

Let’s hope for some positive news this weekend, and with a Sunday opening, the chances are good.

New arrival DJ
2014-07-03 15.12.20







New arrival Darwin

2014-07-03 13.19.17











New arrival (identified) Chabal

2014-07-03 14.41.12












New arrival pedigree Tibetan spaniel Choice, also identified.

2014-07-03 15.56.22







Sven – Reclaimed at last


The tennis ball as lethal weapon…..

I am quite active on Facebook and people draw my attention to certain (usually dog-related) stories very often this way. Today I was shocked to read about a German shepherd who was in rescue and about to go to his forever home this Friday when a tennis ball thrown for him in play lodged straight in his throat, causing him to die within seconds.

I wish to emphasise that Murphy has no connection with the SPA Carcassonne; all this happened in the UK. However I reposted the story on my wall and I have been surprised at the number of people who have responded to tell me about similar stories or near-misses that they have had with their own pets.

I knew that sticks can cause problems, as dogs can sometimes carry them end on, like cigars, and run into something, piercing the back of their throats. But I have never thought about balls as being a problem. Even supervised play can be a problem, as in Murphy’s case there was nothing his owners could do.

I will not stop throwing balls for Nero, despite this tragedy, but I think I may be a bit more cautious and roll them for him to chase, rather than let him catch them. He is a dog of simple pleasures, fortunately, and is easily amused.

The refuge was quite again until just before we closed, with one dog arriving and departing due to the fact that he was micro-chipped. However just as the gates were shutting two more arrived with no identification, so the numbers are creeping up bit by bit.

The appeal for lever-arch files has proved very successful, with lots of you being kind enough to deliver them to us! Thank you so much.

I hate to leave people with bad news, so to cheer you all up, here is a photo of Junior, one of our “old men”, who was rehomed last week. Looking much happier and clearly loving life.

Please everyone don’t forget that we are open this Sunday, as it is the first Sunday of the month. The gates will open at 2pm; come along to meet the dog or cat of your dreams, or if, like me, there is no room at the inn, why not come to walk a dog or sit with the cats for a while. Let’s show the SPA animals that they are loved, even if they cannot all be as lucky as Junior!

Looks innocent but can be lethal…..








Junior happy with Sparrow (ex Polochon, also from the SPA)










We are open on Sunday! Please spread the word.


When size matters!

The weather was quite a bit cooler today, so the volunteers made the most of it and took as many dogs as possible out for walks or played with others in the parks.

Michele was there with her trusty camera, and she took photos of the dogs, which will hopefully give their adoption chances a bit of a boost.

On the subject of which, since yesterday’s blog, a further three people have tried to adopt Allyah. So I was wondering what makes some dogs more appealing than others. Clearly size has a lot to do with it, but being the owner of four dogs myself, I know that despite their cute favour, some small dogs have an attitude problem. Scout is the smallest of my dogs, but by far the most dominant, and I certainly couldn’t trust him alone with children. Nero, my lab, on the other hand is the most gentle of souls. Not the brightest of creatures, but incredibly good natured.

Of course if space is limited, a smaller dog may be more practical, and if you want a dog to sit on your knee at night, having a labrador is maybe not the perfect solution. Assuming that size was the reason for her popularity, I thought that in tonight’s blog I would introduce you to another tiny female whom we have at the SPA. Michele took some photos of her today, so perhaps Puppet, too, will find a home soon

At three years old and weighing just 6 kg, this little dog must appeal to someone out there. Perhaps one of the disappointed potential adopters of Allyah will see her and fall in love!

Otherwise at the refuge there was a bit of dog and cat juggling amongst foster families. Introducing an as yet unsocialised kitten to a household wiht a dog who is not 100% okay with cats was not an option (Vixen just wants to play, but playing with a scared kitten can be dangerous). So the kitten went home to a surprised Moira, Martine kept Vixen and Pip moved from Dominique’s to Isa’s (via Lisa, Geoffrey and Martine). You have to be good at chess to work all this out, but a bit of gentle negotiation and everything was sorted. Thanks to everyone for their willingness to compromise!

No news at the refuge apart from the arrival and departure of a little (identified) Yorkie. Small dogs have a much easier time of things, in general.

Lovely Puppet- Better photos on the way. Will someone love me? 











And a great cartoon from the excellent site Off the Leash
I swear that Nero follows that site!


Adopters are like buses…..

As we all know, the Internet never sleeps. Those of us who help administer the SPA Facebook pages (both dogs and cats; the pages are separate), know this only too well. Equally many of us liaise with potential adopters via our own websites, such as this one, its French version, or other sites, forums or just with friends. It is a never-ending task, uploading photos and answering questions posed by potential adopters.

However this work is crucial and simply cannot be neglected. Many refuges have internet sites or Facebook pages, and if questions are not answered promptly, we often find that another refuge has been quicker off the mark, and the adopter (who may have his eye on more than one dog or cat) has gone elsewhere.

Sunday is no different to any other day. Moira was hard at it, answering questions, initially by email and then on the phone and a deal was struck. Only problem was that Carole was busy doing exactly the same thing, and for the same dog! So instead of having one set of adopters, little Allyah had two! Carole’s contacts were slightly ahead of the game, so it was a case of wait and see if they liked the dog as much in the flesh as in pictures. I am sure that the fabulous photos taken by Michele helped, as until that point my pathetic efforts had not shown just how tiny and cute this dog was.

As things turned out, though, the first family was a “no show”, and as they didn’t phone to warn Carole, “Moira’s” family has now reserved Allayah. Maybe that is just how things were meant to work out!

Otherwise at the refuge it was a reasonably calm day, one dog arrived and was reclaimed, as he was identified.

Which brings me to my final point of the day, and which knits the two subjects together nicely. The internet is crucial, but so is identification.

To the person who posted onto our Facebook page today trying to home their unwanted but also non-vaccinated and non-identified spaniel, we have spent years building up our 8,000 “likes”, and we did not do so in order for you to give away your unwanted pet. Get him identified and vaccinated at least, before you rehome him, but in any case, our Facebook page is not there for your convenience.

Lovely Allayah – RESERVED 

A happy visit and an appeal.

Yesterday I mentioned that Dominique and I had been to visit a couple of old friends and that I would tell you more tomorrow. Well, here we go.

When I said “old friends”, only one of them is old. The other is just a puppy and they have been homed together. The fact that Dominique went to visit may be the final clue to enable you to guess about whom I am talking…..Got it yet?

Tom and Jazz!

Tom has been with the family for 3 weeks, and Jazz for two, and they, together with the family’s other male, golden lab, Miel, are now well settled in and enjoying their new life. Isa, who looked after Jazz in foster, was worried that “her” little pup would miss her dog, Luna, who had acted as a surrogate mum for Jazz. Well, despite the fact that Tom is a male, Jazz seems to regard him as his new mum, and the two of them are very close, with Tom teaching Jazz good doggy manners, like how hard to bite and when enough is enough.

It was a lovely visit, and much to my surprise, Dominique didn’t cry!

We have started running out of certain things at the refuge, and so rather than buy them new, we are wondering if anyone can help us out. Here is the Facebook album of what we need



  • But for those of you who don’t have Facebook, we are after the following items
    Hand sanitising gel (I know that some health facilities have to throw opened bottles away after 30 days, regardless of how much is left. We would be grateful for any left-overs)
  • A wipe off notice board and marker pens
  • Lever arch files, either blue or red (doesn’t matter if they are a bit battered)
  • Worming tablets (Milbemax or similar)
  • Almo Nature dog food (available from Zooplus and deliverable to the refuge)

The SPA no longer has a Paypal account, by the way, so please do not send money that way. Far better to send us the items via post if possible or if you are in the area and can pop in, even better!

Thank you as ever for your support and solidarity.

Jazz tries out his teeth on Tom the Tolerant









Look how big he is getting












Dominique has a cuddle. No tears!










This is the dog food we would like, please










And hand gel is needed too!


The return of Eduard and bath day for Balthazar!

Not every day can be like yesterday, with its two fabulous adoptions. But there is always something to be happy about, if you look hard enough.

After a couple of days, Sven’s owners have been in touch, so this dog should be leaving us next week. I don’t have the full story, but the main thing is that they were looking for him and he will soon be home where he belongs.

Things were not so good for Eduard (from the Twilight litter), who was abandoned today. The woman who adopted him when he was a puppy, has found it totally impossible to look after a young puppy as well as her children. She stated on the abandonment form that it was not the dog’s fault, but that she was unable to stop her kids pestering him, and he was not enjoying life at all. So we are looking for a new home for this handsome young lad, who is okay with other dogs and cats, but not with children. I think he needs some time off from them!

It was incredibly hot today, so walking dogs was not really a good idea. I did manage a quick walk with Rex, because we took him out of his kennel with the intention of bathing him, only to see that he was clean and shiny. I have since found out that Isabelle had washed him two weeks ago, which explains that. It would have been cruel to have put him straight back in his box, though, so we went to the nearest shady tree and had a cuddle.

Meanwhile both Scooby Doo and Balthazar were getting a nice cooling bath. Or actually Scooby preferred to just be rubbed down with a wet towel (and I learnt something from Carole; water on the back of a dog’s neck is the most effective way to lower their body temperature). But Balthazar got the full treatment. We could have knitted a new dog with all the fur that came off him, and he loved the attention. Being a labrador it was clear that he would love the water, though! I think he thought we needed a wash too, as I think we all got about as wet as he did!

As ever, thanks to everyone who came along. Oh, Dominique and I paid a visit to a couple of old friends, but I will tell you more about that tomorrow!

Eduard – Back at the SPA
2014-06-28 13.40.35






Scooby Doo gets a cooling neck rub
2014-06-28 14.42.39







Balthazar enjoying a bath and a kiss from his God mummy

2014-06-28 15.01.21

A miracle for Julia.

I promised some good news tonight, and have I got news for you!

Today saw the adoption of Julia. Yes, Julia, the staffie cross. Category one, dangerous dog, blah blah blah. Julia had been brought to the SPA in November 2012 by our cruelty inspector. She had been found in a cellar and doubtless used to breed puppies. At the time she was three years old and a fabulous looking dog. Her owners made an attempt to reclaim her (this was when there was a hoo-ha in the press about Kitty, with her owners trying to claim financial damages, so I think Julia’s owners thought they may be in for a cash bonanza). We stood firm, and in any case, with Julia being a “dangerous dog” they were unable to take her without going through the required process.

Julia had been at the refuge for 19 months when, at June’s Sunday open day, a couple arrived at the SPA looking for a pet. They hadn’t decided if they wanted a dog or a cat, so we just advised them to have a look round. They returned to the reception having fallen in love with Julia. Oops. Problem. But they were not put off by Carole’s detailed explanations as to the steps needed to adopt a category one dog. On the contrary, in fact. They just got down to business, contacting the association with whom we work (the excellent El Rancho les Canailles http://www.erlc13.fr/) and visiting Julia on a regular basis.

Carole gave up some of her precious spare time to do a home check on the couple, which went well, and yesterday they finally received permission from the Mairie to take Julia home. Final hoop cleared!

Homing even a category two dog (a Rottweiler or pedigree staff) is cause for celebration. But a category one dog? Virtually unheard of. Notwithstanding the fact that Julia, like our other cat 1 dogs is sociable and affectionate. In fact one of the “hoops” is a character assessment, which involves a series of manipulations to see the reaction of the dog and here Julia got top marks, as we knew she would.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Julia at the SPA. She had to undergo a major operation for a damaged cruciate ligament. How do we justify that kind of an expense on a dog who is not homeable? We justify it because every single dog is worth saving, if at all possible, regardless of how the law views certain breeds.

So well done to everyone, thanks to El Rancho, thanks to Carole and Melanie in particular for all the work they put in, and thanks to this fabulous couple for not being deterred by paperwork. Love is love. Julia will reward your kindness a thousand fold.

There was another lucky boy, young Zephyr was adopted. He had officially been found and brought in as a stray, but you don’t have to be a genius to be able to tell when someone is abandoning their own dog. This time, though, he is with people who really want him, and as with Julia, we expect to have news and pictures as this young dog grows up!

Finally and on a more negative note, if you bring your dog to the SPA claiming you have found it, make sure you delete the advert you have placed on leboncoin or other websites where you have been trying to give him or her away. The owners of Jeena, yesterday’s puppy, forgot to do so (thank you to a Facebook follower who sent us the advert). Now we all know that giving away a non-identified animal is illegal, so according to the advert Jeena is both tattooed and vaccinated. Yeah, right. I understand that it is impossible for leboncoin to police every advert, of course, but Jeena’s owners lied in the advert and again to us when they abandoned their dog. They are not people I would want to have as my friends, that’s for sure.

No arrivals today.  A VERY good day!

Julie – ADOPTED. Not a dry eye in the house!











Zephyr – ADOPTED


Arrival of another puppy……

The fourth of yesterday’s arrivals found her owner today, which was good news. What was not such good news was the fact that the message Carole left on the answerphone of the official owners did not reach the dog’s current owners straight away. Fifi had been given away and the change had not been notified to the central database in Paris. However as long as they can find  the time, the new owners will come and collect her tomorrow and we will encourage them to make the change so that if Fifi ever goes missing again, they can find out straight away, rather than leave their dog in a concrete kennel for 2 days.

Thanks to the girls who came along to walk the dogs; I think we had a great time, and there was just enough breeze to keep us and our canine charges cool. And thanks to whoever it was (I suspect Belinda) who left 6 duck eggs on my car. Don’t worry, I did find them before I drove away!

In other news there was an arrival of another puppy. This one is going to be BIG! The vet says Pyrenean Mountain dog, or mostly, so if you are looking for a puppy who is going to grow a lot, this could be the girl for you. Guess where she was found? All together now…one…two…three….LIMOUX!

She is in foster with Carole (thanks) and is called Jeena. Three months old and 15 kg. Yikes!

The SPA was in court today for yet another cruelty case, but no sooner had the Air Traffic Control strike finished than the lawyers’ strike begun. So that is on hold.

I know that things may seem a bit quiet on the adoption front, but I promise that there is big news on the way. Tomorrow will be a blog not to miss!

Fifi- details not up to date on the database so she is waiting for her new owners to come and collect her. (They know she is at the SPA) 
2014-06-26 15.51.13







New arrival Jeena. Looking for a puppy who will be big, anyone?


Four arrivals and more animal cruelty

Today was not the best of days at the SPA, with four new canine arrivals, only one of whom was identified and one of whom had to go through hell before reaching our door

There was one reservation, but news of that will emerge when the lucky dog leaves. So for tonight I will just introduce you to the new arrivals.

Olaff, who is a handsome young border collie, was in the process of being thrown from a bridge by his owner when a passer by and then the police intervened (http://www.lindependant.fr/2014/06/20/limoux-il-voulait-jeter-son-chien-dans-l-aude,1897128.php)

No idea why, as this is a lovely dog who is well behaved and sociable with other dogs. Having said that, it has been quite some time since I have even pretended to understand people. Without wishing to denigrate the other residents of the town, many of you will not be surprised to know that this event took place in (wait for it) Limoux! Naturally the SPA will be taking legal action. Having said that, the owner of Phoenix was given a 2 month suspended sentence, so we cannot hope for much of a punishment for this act of cruelty either. If I ruled the world things would be very different, I can tell you. I would be looking for a very high bridge at this very moment! Old Testament stuff for me!

Second we have Sven, who looks enormous in this photo, but in fact he weighs around 20 kg, about the same as a cocker spaniel. I like the picture though, as he is looking big and majestic. He seems to have been wandering lost and alone for some time, but I bet he will look great once he has had a cut and blow-dry!

And then there is little Yoko. No, unlike John Lennon’s wife, this Yoko is a boy. He is a shepherd cross and is just adorable. But aren’t all pups?

So four new arrivals and at least three of them probably better off than where they were before. The SPA is but a stepping stone to a better life.

And just to prove it, here is what life CAN be like after the SPA. Here is Clara, with her pal Jackson (he is the jack russell, in case you hadn’t guessed) sailing happily along the Canal du Midi, without a care in the world!

By the way, here are no pictures of arrival number four, but we will take some if Carole cannot track down his owners tomorrow.

Olaff –  lucky escape!










Sven- Not as big as he looks!












Yoko –  O No, I’m a BOY! 😀










And Clara with pal Jackson- It’s a dog’s life!

10374154_643336672424582_1890494884_n (1)