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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

Three adoptions and a lovely day in the sun!

Today we had three adoptions!

First to leave (officially) was Pebble, who is now known as Desdemona. Why? Because she is now living with Othello (also ex of the SPA), with our good friend Edith. Desi has been there for a couple of weeks, but today the paperwork was signed, so everything is official.

Second to leave was Rizzla, who has hated every minute of his stay at the refuge. Luckily for him this was as short as possible, just the legal pound delay. When I met him for the first time earlier this week he just hid in his kennel. Luckily we had a photo of him (taken by the Mairie of Azille, where he was found), showing just how loving and friendly he was. Perhaps it was this photo that caught his new family’s eye; in any case they came along to meet him and it was love! Rizzla left today to live in a large enclosed garden.

The third adoption was that of Beauty, the little sheltie cross who had arrived relatively recently arrived but whose shyness prevented her from being snapped up sooner, I am sure.

Romeo, the old yellow lab who arrived yesterday found his owners too, so there is no hot concrete kennel for him!

I popped up to see the volunteers who were manning (or as usual, womanning) the SPA stall at an event in Caunes Minervois. Thanks to Jane and Rebecca for representing us, and to Cai and Gill for hosting us again. It was also great to see Ron and his wife Brenda. Ron is kind enough to publish a weekly blog for us on Anglo Info, which this week is dedicated to Rex, who is desperate for a new home.


If you love beautiful gardens and fancy a day out in the sun, why not pop along tomorrow. As well as the SPA stand (selling books and some fabulous silk scarves), there are plants and English groceries, as well as many other lovely discoveries to be made in this fabulous garden setting. Dogs are welcome! And why not pop along to the SPA afterwards to say hi to us, on our regular Sunday opening.


Desdemona enjoying an ear scratch with her pal Othello

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Rizzla – ADOPTED












Beauty – ADOPTED







Jane and Rebecca with their respective ex SPA dogs, Benson and Gretta.

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Cai and Gill’s beautiful garden in Caunes Minervois

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That Friday factor yet again

What is it about Fridays? We had yet another bumper day today, with no fewer than four adoptions and three reservations. As far as the reservations are concerned, you will have to wait, but I am happy to tell you about the adoptions. More than happy in fact!

Catherine, who was abandoned just a week ago was adopted! Fabulous for her, as she is just six months old and had been adopted as a puppy. When a dog is abandoned, we do not have to keep them for the usual ten days, so it was a quick in and out for her.

The second adoption was that of Bones. He arrived as a very young boy, and everyone fell in love with him. But of course he grew…and he grew….He was adopted, but he needed an enclosed garden, so back he came a week later. And then he grew some more. He left us today as a lovey but bouncy boy, but we are confident that it is the right home for him. At last.

We then said farewell to Hunter, a beautiful English setter whose owner lost him and his brother Barbour and refused to pay the fee to have them micro-chipped. Barbour left us a couple of months ago, but finally his brother has found a new home too.

And last but not least, we said goodbye to Faustino. His owner had given him away (un-identified) but when his new “owners” brought him to us, they claimed that they had found him. The original owner then contacted us to explain the situation, saying that he had rehomed the puppy “for his own good”, but he would now like to reclaim him. Why? To give him away again? As soon as he knew that money would be involved, things went quiet, and today Faustino found the home he deserves.

Sadly there were three new arrivals as well.  We had a call from a refuge in the middle of nowhere (Bonrepos sur Aussonnelle in Dept 31) to say that a dog adopted from us as a puppy four years ago had been abandoned there. Dedicated volunteer Dominique headed on up to collect this lad and bring him back to Carcassonne. He is a lovely Australian Shepherd, but we cannot find his owners. We will provide photos as soon as we can. Dominique then manned (or rather womanned) the fort as we were short staffed today. So huge thanks to her.

An old yellow lab, Romeo, was found and is now at the vets in the hope that his owner can be traced before he comes to the refuge. It is no place for a 14 year old dog, especially in this heat. And on her way home Carole found a lovely beagle who was dodging between the cars on the ring road. He too is at the vets, but will arrive at the SPA tomorrow.

A very busy day all round! Let’s hope for more adoptions tomorrow and of course we are open on Sunday too, it being the first Sunday of the month.

Catherine- ADOPTED












Bones – ADOPTED (look at the size of those paws!)











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Faustino- ADOPTED












New arrival- Romeo. He is 14












And Carpet, who was found on the Ring Road


A word on our oldies and identification in action, again

On Saturday’s blog I mentioned that a gentleman had come to abandon his 9 year old golden retriever, and was asked to wait until this coming Saturday, the 31st. Well yesterday he phoned to say that he had found an alternative solution, and that a family member is going to take this elderly dog. That is great news all round. Especially as a dog of that age is not always easy to home. We have several dogs over 9 years old, and there is much celebration each time one is adopted. We all find it extremely upsetting when a dog ends his days at the SPA, rather than in the warmth of a family home. This is why dogs over 9 years old are just 80 euros to adopt. This includes vaccination, micro-chipping and castration/sterilisation as appropriate.

One of our volunteers and Committee member, Dominique, has made this poster to highlight our elderly dogs. Can you offer one of them a home, perhaps? Be aware that we are flexible regarding the date of birth, as in many cases it is a vet’s estimate. We would not refuse the reduced fee for the sake of a couple of months!

In SPA news, I had no photos of her, so I was unable to post photos of Candy, a little pinscher who arrived yesterday. In any case, I thought that with Candy the Rottweiler leaving it might have been confusing (although I might have had fun with the title). In any case, Candy number 2 was already identified and was reclaimed today.

Apart from that three other dogs arrived today; all three were already micro-chipped and so left straight away.

What is there to say except please identify your dog, if you haven’t already done so. If I had a euro for every time someone contacts us full of regret that they have not identified their dog and he or she has gone missing, I would be a very rich person. Actually I wouldn’t, cos I would donate the money to the SPA, but you get my point. Yes, a micro-chip costs about 60 euros, but what price peace of mind?

We had a couple of reservations today and perhaps more in the offing. Let’s hope things start to look up again soon.

Oh, and not that it is a competition, but here is another wonderful poster by a dog’s sponsor. This time it is for Taser, and just goes to show what talented and dedicated people there are out there! The poem even rhymes! Brilliant!

Here are our older dogs. Grab yourself a loving bargain!








And a publicity boost for Taser!

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Candy’s adoption is finalised.

Today we had both good and bad news. Which is pretty much the case every day, except we don’t always have good news!

Let’s start with the bad news. Lisbon came back to the refuge, 10 days after being adopted. This was not done with a light heart, and many tears were shed. Turns out that the mild mannered boy we knew at the SPA does not know the rules of the dog world, and he has major trouble accepting any sort of discipline. Now this would be fine if the family did not have young children, but when they are at risk of gnashing teeth, there is little to be done.

We now know that we perhaps homed Lisbon a little bit too soon. He arrived very nervy, and more work needs to be done before he is ready to be adopted. But that is what we are there for. We will get him used to being manipulated and will make sure he is really ready before he leaves us next time.

On the good news front, Candy our lovely Rottweiler was adopted. Of course we have known this was on the cards, but it takes some time to get the paperwork together. Today the final pieces slotted into place and so within just a little over two weeks Candy was off once again. This time as an only dog!

I nearly got my hands on a lovely beagle, but before he got out of the police car, his owners had phoned the refuge, so he was just delivered back home. And another identified dog arrived and will be off home too. Oh, yes, identification works, don’t ever doubt it.

We managed to get photos of several other dogs who have arrived over recent days but whose owners we have been thus far unable to trace; perhaps social networking will help!

Otherwise it was just thanks to everyone who came out to walk in the lovely sunshine. No bingo wings for us!

Lisbon- Back in the dog house











Candy – ADOPTED (again)








A new arrival- we are looking for her owner.

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Three out, two in.

Some of you will have seen the newspaper articles about a dog who was rescued by the Gendarmerie from its owner who had tied it to a lamp post and was systematically kicking it. The poor dog is now at the SPA and although he is not as badly injured as one might expect, it is still tragic that this seems to happen again and again. The owner will be prosecuted for animal cruelty, but as we know this is rarely enough to deter a recurrence. And a fine is always too small and is unlikely to be enforced. It makes me want to cry.

Another puppy arrived, deposited at the home of one of the SPA employees by a neighbour whom he had followed through town. Needless to say he is not identified.  A third dog arrived identified, so he was able to be reunited with his owner immediately.

There were even two adoptions believe it or not. After two and a half long months, Alana, our lovely female border collie cross finally found a home. This was another internet romance, with her new owner having unashamedly fallen in love via Facebook and agreeing to adopt Alana, providing the feeling was mutual. Which it was. Hooray!

The other adoption was that of Michigan, who left as soon as possible after his “pound time” was over. The best thing about this adoption is that his new owner is one of the guys who is helping to build the extension to the cat house at the SPA. Perhaps it will start a trend amongst his colleagues!

Finally, look at this amazing poster which was made to publicise a SPA dog. Gordon’s “sponsor” is obviously a very talented woman and hopes that this eye-catching picture will encourage someone to come and adopt her favourite dog!  All our sponsors do an amazing job, by either coming to walk “their” dogs, by sending gifts of anti-tick collars, for example, or as in this case by being incredibly creative!








Michigan- ADOPTED












New arrival –  FLAMBO












And a boost for Gordon’s adoption chances!



Discrimination both animal and human

As many of you will have noticed, the blogger alternates on an informal and irregular basis between Moira and me, depending on our commitments. During my recent absence I was in the UK, where amongst other things, I visited my closest friend, who is a military officer. She has been the proud and loving owner of two terriers for about 16 months now, but talking to her made me a little bit angry, so I thought I would share her experience with you.

When Debbie looked into getting a dog, she was very keen to rescue. She knows me well and agrees wholeheartedly with my views on bad breeders and the immorality of making money from selling puppies (here I exclude good breeders, again). However when she contacted the various rescue organisations in the UK, she was  instantly rejected on the grounds that she was a single person in the military, and therefore would undoubtedly dump the dog at the first hint of inconvenience.

There are several points to make here. Firstly Debbie is a very senior officer and although she could be posted abroad, she has done more than her fair share of war zones recently, and is now in a position to pick and choose where she goes. Also people making such rules just have no idea about how close the military “family” is. Living on a “patch” (a group of military houses), there is always someone to walk and feed dogs if a meeting goes on too long. Hardly anyone even locks their doors, so access is never a problem.

Debbie did get her dogs, brother and sister lakeland/ border terrier crosses called Rosie and Hatchi. And they have the life of riley. But instead of being able to rescue her dogs, she was obliged to pay for them. And although they came from a working farm at the age of 10 weeks (and yes, she saw both mum and dad), her paying for the pups may encourage the owners to breed again, just as buying from a puppy farm or pet shop just encourages the breeding of more unwanted dogs. I emphasise here that although there are good breeders out there, this was very much a back yard breeder, not a responsible one.

It is true that soldiers can be sent abroad with relatively little notice, but this does not mean that they will abandon their dogs. I am sure the people that rejected Debbie as a suitable adopter did so on the basis of experience, but not everybody should be tarred with the same brush. I spent 20 years in the MOD and neither I nor my husband (who was “in” for 32 years) ever abandoned a dog.

My experience at the SPA has showed me that what looks like the perfect home can often prove not to be, and military families are no more or less likely to abandon their animals than civilians. It is a form of discrimination and should be stopped.

At the SPA we ask the obvious questions about back up plans etc, but we do not have any kind of blanket ban on letting military personnel adopt. If we single out a particular category (or indeed nationality) of people as unsuitable adopters, then we are no better than the ridiculous laws that classify some dogs as being “dangerous” because they are of a certain breed.

All discrimination is wrong. Be it against people or animals.

Rosie and Hatchi,  just after a game of swing-ball 😉







And a poster to try and discourage adopting from backyard breeders.



A terrible couple of days

Well, I promised a catch up on refuge news today, but in a way I wish I hadn’t. Nine dogs arrived yesterday. This is a complete disaster, and just shows that however hard we work, however optimistic we are, something always happens to burst out bubble.

Two dogs were identified and left immediately, but that left seven more, including three abandoned dogs plus a mum and her pup. It is all incredibly depressing and the good news is far too little to compensate. One of the abandoned dogs was adopted very recently from us as a puppy. Who remembers Catherine? Well, she is now six months old now, and is back at the refuge. We know that she is good with other dogs, because yesterday night she was in a kennel alone, and this morning she had joined Niagara and Dusty in theirs! All three are getting along fine, so we thought we would just leave them!

Good news: Wasabi was adopted yesterday. This young dog arrived at the end of November last year, and he is  black so we knew it would be hard to find him a home. He nearly left to the UK a couple of months ago, but there was a question concerning an old fracture in one of his back legs, so he was left behind. His turn finally arrived, though, and he left the SPA yesterday for his new life.

And one of yesterday’s dogs (Blandine, who we don’t even have a photo of) was adopted today by a friend of the former owner. So that was another bright spot in what has been a pretty awful couple of days, especially as another dog arrived today. Furthermore a dog who was adopted two years ago as a tiny puppy, is now on the list to be abandoned as being unmanageable. Hmmm. Wonder whose fault that is. Plus a golden retriever of 9 years old, who has been passed between family members for the past two and a half years. He would have been much easier to home at 6 and a half….

In other news the AGM did not go well, with us running out of time and hence unable to conclude proceedings. But on the positive side we have seven new members of the CA, including my fellow blogger, Moira, and six other very active and committed volunteers, which bodes well for the refuge.

One of yesterday’s many arrivals, Catherine, adopted as a puppy, now 6 months old.










Aïda and Bambino, who also arrived yesterday










Another of yesterday’s arrivals, poodle cross Filou













Yukotan who arrived today










But lucky Wasabi has been ADOPTED!


SPA Annual General Meeting!

This blog is being posted early tonight, because I have to leave for the SPA Annual General Meeting. I mentioned this to a couple of dog walkers yesterday, and they knew nothing about it, so I thought it might be a good idea to explain to you all how the SPA functions.

The SPA Carcassonne is a non-profit making Association according to law no. 1901. We have charitable status, but are independent financially. We are not part of the Paris SPA group, as I have explained in a previous blog. Rather we are part of the Confederation of SPAs, which is based in Lyon. http://www.lesspadefrance.org/

The SPA Carcassonne invites all its supporters to become members of the Association. To be an active member costs 26 euros per year. That is a minimum, clearly 😉 . You can also become a non-active member for 16 euros and 85 euros will make you a benefactor. Membership entitles you to vote at meetings and after one year, you will be eligible to join the Conseil d’Admininstration (CA) or Committee, which elects the “Bureau” (Board) and is where all the decisions are made.

At tonight’s meeting we will be reviewing what happened at the SPA in 2013, but also looking forward to 2014 (easy as we are almost halfway through it!). We will discuss refuge policies, manning, fundraising, and most importantly the AGM will elect new members to the CA.

Many people are members without living in Carcassonne, and they are invited to vote by proxy. My parents are both members (no pressure from me there!) and pass on their votes as they are in the UK. Geography is no barrier to taking an active interest in the SPA.

It is in everyone’s interests to have the refuge well run. Active, intelligent and motivated people in the CA ensure that the right decisions are made. The CA decides how money is spent; it makes decisions on things such as sterilisation, adoption fees and much more.

Joining before the end of 2014 will mean you are invited to next year’s AGM. But why wait to the end of the year? Act now and you are less likely to forget! If you make a donation of 26 euros (either as a gift or from fundraising), and unless you state otherwise, we would like you to become a member. Membership makes us strong and all opinions are welcome. Together we have made the SPA a better place and can continue to do so!

One example of the decisions made by the AGM is to extend the cat house (which will benefit both dogs and cats). Here is a photo taken yesterday, which shows the progress that has been made so far!

Refuge news will have to wait till tomorrow!

Join us! 







Building work continues


None out, one in, but a sense of optimism!

Today was a day of dog walking and cat testing. No dogs left and only one dog arrived. She is absolutely beautiful  and although initially a bit nervous, soon responded when she was given her first cuddle.

A couple of dogs were reserved, and although I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder, all I will say is that there is a trip to the UK in the offing at the end of June. So if you are following this blog from there and think that you have found the dog of your dreams but are worried about the logistics, this could be the time for you to book a spot. Remember that we need three weeks’ notice because of the Rabies vaccination requirements.

I was very pleased to take Stivell out for a walk today. This young spaniel arrived in the middle of March in an appalling state, skeletal and with horrid scars from where he had been muzzled constantly since being a puppy. Just look at him now, just 2 months later. Although all dogs (and cats) want is a home, there are often worse places to be than at a refuge.

And we have news of one dog who waited a very long time to have the perfect home, but I am sure he agrees it was worth it. Gun was adopted a week or so ago, after having waited almost exactly two years at the SPA. He had been adopted as a tiny puppy and was abandoned when he was an unruly adolescent. One of the volunteers who adored him and who walked him often at the refuge went to see him on Monday. She found a beloved pet, who spends every minute of every day with his owners; he even goes shopping with them.

We want more happy stories like this! And tonight’s closing news (for which you will have to wait as it is very much thanks to Moira’s efforts) makes me think that everything is possible!

Today’s arrival, Fabergé. Because she is fabulous!













And I promised you a picture of yesterday’s arrival, whom we have named Cola












Here is Stivell when he arrived in March









And today The scars on his nose will remain for ever, sadly.










And look at Gun! Home at last!


Woody is homed and Gryphon’s ex-owners come to call.

I very much regret mentioning cats on the blog yesterday.  I won’t be doing it again. It is not our fault that the law is the way it is, and if we took in all the wild cats that people told us about, the refuge would soon be full of unadoptable cats and we would have no room for those that are easily homed. Yes, it is lovely to think that we could spend our time socialising the wild cats and their kittens to make them homeable. Anyone who thinks that is possible is welcome to try and do it. We have neither the time nor the resources to do so. Please do not think that we don’t care about the cats, wild or otherwise; there are just limits as to what we can achieve.

Subject closed as far as this blog is concerned.

Onto the real subject area of this blog: DOGS!

News from the UK; Woody has been adopted, which is wonderful for this boy who arrived at the refuge all skin and bone and absolutely terrified. Six months at the refuge and he was happy, sociable and ready for a new home. Except no one here looked at him twice. Thanks to a pointer rescue organisation he now has the home he deserves.

And news from the SPA: Remember lovely Oscar (renamed Gryphon) who was homed nearly 2 weeks ago, having arrived (unidentified) at the refuge on April 22nd? Well today his former owners came to see if he was with us. Who waits over a month to look for their dog? In any case, he now has a wonderful new home, and so it is too late for them to reclaim him. We never divulge details of new owners, so Gryphon is safe.

I think of the times when my dog was missing (I used to have a very excitable and Houdini-esque beagle). I hardly slept a wink when he was AWOL, which was a frequent occurrence. I just can’t imagine not doing anything for a month! However, the fact that he was a family pet does explain why Gryphon was (and is) so well behaved.

Other than that, we had one dog brought in this morning, a black and tan female shepherd cross (I will post a picture tomorrow) and an EXCELLENT reservation. So watch this space.

Woody is rehomed via a pointer rescue association in the UK. Thanks to Linda who put us in touch with them!
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Gryphon- his former owners looked for him too late- He was homed 11 days ago.