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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

Open days are meant to result in fewer animals at the refuge, not more!

Well, the first of our two open days didn’t go quite as planned. I thought it was generally understood that the movement of animals on open days is meant to be out of the SPA, rather than in. Especially on the open weekend that is dedicated to St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Some people used the opportunity to dump their pets. One adult dog, one puppy and five kittens were waiting outside the gates this morning, and another puppy arrived this afternoon. For any animal found at the gates, there is an automatic 10 days pound time, so if you think your abandoned animal is going to leave the same day, you are WRONG.

We are at our wit’s end. What are we supposed to do with all these dogs and cats? The refuge walls are not made of elastic, you know!

On a far more positive note, the second day of dog and cat food collection at Geant was even more successful than yesterdays, with a further 8 trolley loads of goodies arriving at the refuge. Once again many many thanks to all of you who gave so generously (some of you brought food directly to the SPA, too), to all the volunteers who manned the stand and again to Geant for hosting the event.

In terms of adoptions, two lucky dogs left. First was Wallace, who caught the eye of a young couple. He was fine with their toddler and scared of cats, so he went off very happily. This picture does him no justice at all, he is a very handsome boy.

Second to leave was Djinn, mother of Galice who was adopted a couple of months ago. I like this story particularly because Collette and Dave came for a male dog under two and left with a female of five and a half. They let their heart be their guide, and Djinn is going to be a very happy girl!

Let’s  hope tomorrow brings more adoptions. If you are thinking of coming to see us, you are more than welcome, but not if you are planning on abandoning an animal. There is just no more room!

Poppins, just 6 weeks old









Lucky Wallace
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And Djinn leaves despite not being a young male!










The van arrives from Geant. Thank you everyone!


Dog food collection and Habbie leaves the SPA.

Today was day one of our dog and cat food collection which is taking place at Geant Cite 2 to coincide with the National SPA Open Days (tomorrow and Sunday).

Things got off to a slowish start, but by the end of the day we had seven shopping trolleys piled high with goodies. It was wonderful to see people’s generosity, despite the general lack of funds around. But for me the best bit was chatting to people who had adopted dogs and cats from us and were keen to give us news, and in most cases show us pictures of their beloved pets on their smart phones.

So we had news of Coco (formerly Sangria), although I must admit that her owners keep in close touch via Facebook already, and also of a spaniel/setter cross, Alex, who was adopted 2 years ago. Then the adopter of Prince came to see us; This lab/sharpei cross had been abandoned and spent all his time at the SPA crying. He readjustment to his new life was not easy as he had aggression issues, but his owner persevered and now this lucky boy goes everywhere with his mum, happily sitting by her side in crowded cafes. Take heed all you people who give up if your dog so much as growls at another dog.

Thank you to all the volunteers who came to man (or mostly again “woman”) the stand; thanks to everyone who gave so generously and thanks to Geant Cite 2 for offering to hold the collection. We are lucky enough to be placed opposite Rose and Michel’s bar, which happens to do the best cappuccino in Carcassonne, too!

Anyway, back to the topic of people who give up on dogs without making any effort…..Habbie left again today. She has another chocolate labrador to play with and owners who clearly know and love this breed.

I don’t want to speak too soon, but this time I think it is going to work out for her!

Don’t forget the open day this weekend. I know the weather was appalling today, but it is due to clear up. We don’t want our cakes all going soggy, do we?

Midway through the afternoon at Geant. It got better! 

In praise of cuddly toys!

Sometimes I feel as if I am banging my head against a brick wall. How many times do I have to say this before people will listen:

Do not take a puppy or a dog of any age, in fact, if you are not willing to put in any effort to its training. This applies whether you have bought a puppy from a breeder (grrr) or adopted a dog from the SPA or another refuge. If you are not willing to put in time and maybe even attend dog training school, then it is better for both you and the dog if you buy a cuddly toy.

To my huge disappointment, today saw the return of Habbie, the pedigree chocolate labrador who was adopted eleven days ago. The first and only indication that anything was wrong came by email two nights ago. Before I had time to reply to give advice (yes, even I like a couple of hours off if possible), another email had arrived to say that “the dog” was being returned today (between last night and this morning Habbie had lost her name). No advice (most notably to visit a dog trainer) was welcomed, despite my efforts to persuade them to contact a trainer (whose number I provided), for what are nothing other than usual puppy problems.

So just like that, this dog who is under a year old and has already had several owners due to NO FAULT OF HER OWN (divorce, house move and lack of patience in that order) is back at the refuge.

Even before she had been dumped (that is the only word I can use), another dog was abandoned. This time it was one of the cocktail litter, Mojito who had been adopted two weeks ago, and whose brother, Bronx, left yesterday. He was adopted when he was ten weeks old, so his behaviour cannot be any different from that of any other puppy! The owner freely admitted that she was not watching her child when the puppy supposedly “bit” him, and of course puppies of all ages nibble (cos that is what this was) until they are taught not to. And in any case you should never ever leave a child and a dog together unsupervised.

There is a page on this site entitled “Adoption Guidelines”. This explains some of what you should expect when you adopt a dog. Please read this page before deciding to adopt. It causes dogs enormous upheaval to be adopted and brought back to the refuge. They don’t understand what they have done wrong (especially when they are just being dogs!). And I am fed up with this constant refrain of “but I am scared for my child’s safety”. Decent training and discipline of both children and dogs can stop the two coming into conflict. If you are not willing to put in any effort, get a teddy bear.

Finally remember that like people, all dogs are different. Don’t go online and decide that you want a dog of a certain breed because they are “always gentle and obedient”. Each dog has its own personality, a bit like children, in many respects.

And there are some lovely looking teddy bears out there.

Habbie is back
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So is Mojito










This may suit both families better. Meet Edward Bear!


Cocktails and Cupcakes!

This morning at (almost) the crack of dawn, Bronx went off to start his new life, courtesy of Moira, who took him halfway to his new home where he was handed over to his new family. They had contacted us via the internet and after much discussion; they chose Bronx, one of the “Cocktail litter”. This still leaves two females and a male from this litter looking for a home.

Although we know that the mum is a border collie, these pups really are remarkably calm, so if any of you were worried about crazily active dog behaviour, I think you can relax! But of course these are not the only pups looking for homes, as we have the eight dogs from the Egyptian Deities litter as well as lovely Moka, who is in foster with Val.

Why not come and meet them this weekend, when the SPA has its open days, so will be open on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The adopters of Bronx live very close to a relatively new but extremely committed SPA supporter, Jim. So they swung by his house and filled up their car with goodies that he had put by for the refuge. Cat boxes, dog baskets, leads and collars, not to mention 100 anti-flea treatments for dogs and 100 for cats! What a haul!

Many thanks to Moira for her dog-delivery, to Bronx’s family for adopting the little guy, and to Jim for his generosity.

However Bronx wasn’t the only lucky dog today. After just short of six months at the refuge Cupcake finally found a home. He is a little jagd terrier, and we have several dogs of this breed at the refuge right now (Mozart, Martin and Groove being three who are still waiting for a home). Cupcake had been waiting the longest, however, and it is great news for him.

Be happy, both of you!

Here is Bronx, meeting his new family!











And here he is, already settling in with his new pal, Hugo

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Cupcake found a home after 6 months








And look at this fabulous hall from SPA supporter, Jim.

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Third super adoption in a row!

Today is Tuesday. Let’s just ignore Sunday, when the refuge was shut, and just look at the last three days when the SPA was open. On Saturday we said goodbye to Lucky. Then on Monday we said goodbye to Dusty and then today we had yet another single adoption but again an excellent one.

Today we said goodbye to Cheyenne. I know I say the same about all of the dogs, but she really was one of my favourites! This beautiful young malinois arrived in early June, complete with a broken leg (which is presumably why she was discarded). She spent several weeks in the infirmary while she was recovering and was tied up during the day in the sunshine on a long lead to meet people (she was initially a bit unsure of herself). This is why so many of the employees and volunteers know her so well, we all had plenty of cuddles!

Once Cheyenne had recovered and been sterilised we moved her to the big kennels, where she shared with a male and got lots more chance to meet other dogs and people. But finding her the perfect home wasn’t going to be easy. This breed, despite its popularity in France, is not an easy option. Malinois are highly intelligent and require plenty of stimulation and exercise. Not a dog for lazing around the house with an occasional walk (another reason these dogs are so often found in refuges).

Finally today was the day. After getting in contact with Carole yesterday, what proved to be the perfect owner arrived today. Cheyenne will  have lots of company and exercise with this sporty lady and her two older children. Perfect! I am so happy for her!

Of course as ever we have had some dogs brought in. Yesterday after the refuge was shut a small but strangely familiar dog was found tied to the gate, complete with harness and lead. Adopted from us in Summer  2011 having been seized from a dog trafficker, Poody, an Andelucian Podenco, born in 2007 has apparently been abandoned. The fact that her adopter’s phone number is no longer in service is a pretty clear sign that the dog is not lost. Shame on you.

And today a dog of at least 12 years old arrived, very sad looking and with mange. Her owners have had enough of her, too, it would seem.

The world is a very sad place for certain dogs. But for Cheyenne things have just got a whole lot better!

A very happy Cheyenne

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Poor Poody is back.













And we have just got this little girl, as yet unnamed.



Dusty’s SPA days are done!

Moira hinted yesterday that we are not exactly in the best of spirits at the SPA right now. A number of things have been affecting our mood, most notably people who don’t care for their dogs but are willing to go to any lengths to get them back so they can continue to ignore or mistreat them. I can’t say too much due to upcoming legal action, but you will hear about everything in good time. Or most likely with the SPA’s record of success in court, in BAD time. Still, it is hard to fight against a legal aid-funded barrister (yes, barrister, not solicitor) when you are a charity with limited resources.

Maybe this time….

Yesterday’s news and pictures of happy Scottish doggies cheered us up a bit. And for those of you who are wondering why YOUR dog hasn’t been featured, we have had so many lovely pictures and stories that we just couldn’t write about them all in one blog. We haven’t forgotten you, we just thought it would be nice to save some good news stories for another time.

Now to today: Mondays can be good or bad. Lost hunt dogs arrive, recently arrived hunt dogs are collected. It is generally a busy day and sometimes there is news that blows your socks off. Today was such a day….

Dusty was adopted!

He has been with us almost all his life, though in stints. He arrived at the age of about 8 months (yet another untrained and discarded overgrown puppy) only to be adopted by a couple who subsequently divorced and so brought him back. (For some reason there seems to be a belief that divorcees are unable to have dogs. Maybe it is a strange French Napleonic law). Dusty was then readopted and we thought all was going well, until he was brought in at the beginning of February by our cruelty inspector, having been found tied up in the back of a car guarding chickens.

Despite being abandoned three times, Dusty is just a big loveable lump and holds no malice against anyone. He initially pulled like crazy on the lead and was hard to take on walks. But once he had been castrated and mixed with a female, he was able to move to the bigger kennels, where he got more regular access to the parks.

Today the perfect couple came for him. Dusty has gone to live in a huge enclosed property, with a sporty couple who will keep him occupied. He knew it was his chance; and as with Lucky on Saturday, the adoption was a two way decision. Dusty did not pull on the lead at all! Maybe he has been saving himself for the right people!

So only one adoption, but one that will make lots of people smile, most of all Dusty himself, from the look of the photograph!

Look at this big boy’s smile!

Lucky’s lucky day!

As the dogs return from their walks, or while they are playing in the parks, we try to take photographs of them which we then upload to Facebook. It is quite interesting to go back and see the evolution of the dogs as they get used to life at the refuge. The early photos quite often show nervous, thin or sad animals, and it is rewarding to see them gradually gain weight and regain their will to live.

On Thursday I took a photo of which I was hugely proud. With the help of one of the employees, Melanie, I took a fabulous photo of Lucky, who arrived at the refuge in March 2012. Yesterday when Carole told me that someone had expressed an interest in him I assumed that this new picture had caught their eye.

They returned again today and it was a blow to my ego to hear that they had not even seen the latest photos, as whereas they follow this site (not being native French speakers), they had just liked the existing picture of the dog.

Pride suitably squashed, I chatted to them about Lucky and about the length of time he had been in the refuge. We agreed that 18 months is a very long time, and all of us expressed amazement that such a beautiful dog should have been overlooked for so long. But the fact remains that we are all attracted to different dogs and the heart goes where the heart goes.

Today was certainly Lucky’s lucky day.He left with a beautiful chocolate Doberman for company and will have a fabulous time with a couple very experienced in dog ownership. I still like my photo of him, though!

Apart from that there were no other adoptions, and the arrival of just a couple of (identified) chasse dogs, whom we hope will be reclaimed. If not, they will be up for adoption, and one of them is a fabulous griffon khortal, so watch this space!

My Lucky photo!

One dog Friday

Sometimes we look at numbers, and our occasional Four or Five Dog Fridays have been a cause of much celebration. However in my bleaker moments (and there are plenty, believe me), I tell myself that each dog homed is a dog happy. So the adoption of one single dog is still cause for celebration. How does the saying go? Saving one dog will not change the world, but for that dog the world will change.

Today was the turn of Katya. She arrived not long ago, on August 10th, to be precise, and immediately won hearts. She is very small and lively and completely adorable. Sharing her box with a much bigger dog, Katya risked not being seen,  but she was very clever at ducking between Balthazar’s huge paws to make sure she got her share of attention.

Today she left for her new home, fresh from being sterilised. I am delighted for her! We wish her well in her new life with her new family.

Meanwhile we have news and even a photo of Gafarot, who is gaining confidence by the day thanks to his foster family. It is a case of lots of reassurance and patience for this little chap. If only we knew what has happened to him. I wish I could get my hands on the people who had him before he arrived at the SPA.


Katya finds a home













Gaffa starts to come out of his shell ( a little bit, at least!)

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Adoption refused!

The SPA was very quiet today in terms of visitors, but not in terms of volunteers, so plenty of dogs were either walked or spent time in the parks. I even got out on a couple of walks myself, which is not always possible.

One lucky dog was found by his owner thanks to his microchip, but other than that there was no movement either in or out. No arrivals is clearly good, but as I spent time playing with some of the dogs in the parks, I wondered why there are so many unwanted dogs.

I guess the answer is that there are thousands of unwanted puppies, and that is what unwanted dogs once were. This was illustrated by the “almost” adoption of the day. Rex, our beautiful six year old German Shepherd who belongs (or rather belonged) to a homeless person. He could have been lucky today. He got on well with the family’s female dog, but when the question was asked as to whether or not she is sterilised, it all went wrong.

These people had actually come to the SPA to look for breeding stock. Adoption refused. A huge shame for Rex. But It is not by accident that we sterilise all our females before they leave. We are the ones who get dumped with all the puppies, after all. And as for people who claim to have found “good homes” for their litters, how do you know it is a good home? Unless you keep track of the animal all its life, how do you know that he or she hasn’t ended up in a refuge? Or worse? And that goes for kittens too.

I am constantly being contacted by people with unwanted litters and being told that “accidents happen”. Not with unsterilised animals they don’t!

Do I sound cross? That is probably because I am cross. Were we wrong to refuse the adoption of Rex? Not in my opinion we weren’t. Think about the consequences of having a litter and think about all the dogs and cats who are already in refuges. Then ask yourself whether the money you make (and there is usually money involved) is worth all the suffering. If your answer is yes, then you need to look deep inside your heart and reconsider.

 Rex Stays







And this is why!



Pollux finds a home!

The headline I never thought I would write! While Moira was blogging, she mentioned that despite both of us being on the road, we had managed to organise a super reservation. We are loath to announce reservations before the dogs actually leave, so what she did not mention was that the reservation was that of Pollux!

A firm favourite with employees and volunteers alike, Pollux’s extended stay at the refuge has been something of a mystery. I can only put it down to his jumping at the bars of his cage, which puts some people off. But out of his cage he is a completely different dog. Calm and discreet, but playful at the same time. When Sandra clipped his fur a few weeks ago, Pollux stayed still for over two hours, even when we got rather close to his nether regions. There is trust for you! And he is dream to take on walks.

In any case, today was the day. Pollux’s new mum and dad came to collect him (they had reserved him sight unseen) and were enchanted by what they saw. It really was love at first sight, and he is going to be a very happy dog. A few tears were shed by the volunteers as we said goodbye, but we will have news and photos!

Apart from that, the couple who came to the refuge with a view to fostering Gafarot took him home with them for “rehabilitation”. They have a very outgoing springer spaniel who will give timid little Gafarot some much needed confidence. He is going to be called Gaffa, which is slang for “boss” in the some British workplaces. We are looking forward to news of his progress.

Rox also found a home, as did Fido (minus his “family jewels”). So all in all not too bad a day at the SPA!

Pollux leaves at last









Rox finds a home












And Fido leaves us too.