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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

Vanille is reclaimed but three new dogs arrive.

Thanks to Facebook, the owner of the ten year old Yorkie was alerted to her arrival, so the afternoon got off to a good start, with this little dog leaving after just one night at the SPA. The owner has promised to get the details updated on the central database, as that way if Vanille ever goes wandering again, we will be able to get her home immediately!

I mentioned stalwart supporter Elinor yesterday, and by coincidence she features in tonight’s blog, too. Not with news of Renée (who was clean overnight and is fabulous, of course), but for another reason. Elinor nominated us in a Bank Holiday giveaway taking place in the UK, and we were chosen from dozens of overseas rescue organisations to receive a selection of leads designed to prevent dogs from pulling. These are now on their way to us thanks to Dave at Gentle Lead (http://www.gentleleads.com/ or www.facebook.com/pages/Gentlelead/326302347487811). A full report will be made in due course, but we are excited already. Anything that can make walking a dog more pleasurable has got to be good, providing the dog is happy with the arrangement, of course.

At the refuge we had the arrival of three dogs; two very young female puppies and a young male griffon. The two pups were very lucky, volunteer Marie-Pierre just happened to be at the SPA, and she went home with more than she bargained for! She will send us names to go with faces in due course, but in the meantime, here they are, 2 months old and cute as buttons!

The little griffon is lovely too, and I have a feeling he will appeal to more than a few of you. We have named him Tico.

So although it was not a great day, we  have had worse!

Puppy number one
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Puppy number two
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And today’s third arrival, Tico
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Just walk away, Renée

A mixed day at the SPA today. Someone left an empty cage in one of the exterior boxes, so we will never know what small animal escaped from it. The owners did not have the courage to walk in and hand the animal over to make sure it was safe. And no, they were not donating an empty cage, as there was food left inside, and sawdust. So some small creature (a kitten, a rat, a ferret?) is now lost in the middle of nowhere, or perhaps already dead. For every wonderful person out there, there is always someone who makes you despair at their idiocy and selfishness.

In better news, Ilda left the SPA. This is the little girl who was brought in on August 19th by the police of Limoux after being abandoned by her owner who no longer wanted her. Dog Rescue Carcassonne knew of her plight before she was brought in, but did not manage to find a “home to home” in time. However once she was at the SPA and we were able to meet her and take some better photos, Moira’s plotting came to fruition! Ilda has not left for her forever home, but is being fostered by Elinor, a great supporter of the SPA and adopter of Maddie (ex Malaga), who is going to give her loads of love and then deliver her to Scotland when she and her husband return home in a couple of weeks.

We will have an official adoption announcement when she reaches her final destination, and in the meantime we will have news and photos thanks to Elinor. The first one has arrived already. Ilda has been renamed Renée which of course means “reborn”. And she is already looking a lot happier, isn’t she? Great work Team!

Two dogs arrived today. Copernic is a lovely looking cross breed and we will have more information about him in due course. Who knows, perhaps his owner is looking for him……And then we had a tiny female yorkie brought in having been found in Palaja. She, unlike Copernic, is identified, but the details on her tattoo are not up to date. Let’s hope her owners think of contacting the SPA, otherwise she will be looking for a home at the age of ten years.

Ilda, now Renée – in foster before moving to Scotland!








Copernic – New arrival










And a ten year old female yorkie- another new arrival





A very special guest blog

Tonight we have a guest blog, so without further ado, I will hand over to Jane. Her words speak for themselves, so I will just say a very big “Thank you” to all concerned, and our sympathies once again.

For nearly ten years now I have had the good fortune to be a member of a very special online community of some sixty plus wonderful men and women. Brought together by our love of food and cookery, we stayed together via various forums and Facebook by our mutual respect and genuine friendship, despite the majority of us never having the opportunity to meet. Two weeks ago, one of our members died suddenly leaving us all grief-stricken. Darren was a gentle, sweet and generous soul who had an affinity with dogs. He once told me ‘I am almost embarrassed by how much I love my dog – almost…’

Once we had got over our initial shock we knew we had to do something meaningful to honour this incredible man, and asked his partner for suggestions. It was easy – Darren would have wanted to help a dog refuge and I was suggested as the person who might know of a suitable rescue centre. Well, I certainly did. I have been associated with the SPA for a few years now; I adopted my dear, quirky Rookie in March 2012, and try to do what I can to support fundraising events. I have seen first hand how hard the staff and volunteers work to care for their dogs, with all that this involves and well as lavish as much love on them as they can. They are miracle workers!

So my friends and I decided to sponsor an SPA dog in memory of Darren. Rowan helped us chose Gus, a beautiful laborador cross who was brought to the refuge because he had been badly mistreated. Left tied up on a short rope to starve, he arrived at the SPA in a very sorry state. Covered in fleas and ticks and half starved. Desperate to escape, he had rubbed his face and ear until it was raw and bleeding. When Rowan told me how gentle Gus is, despite all that he has been through, I knew that he would be the perfect dog for us; the word we have all used to describe our dear friend was ‘gentle’. It seemed fitting.

Sponsoring an SPA dog is incredibly easy; once we had decided all we had to do was inform them of our choice and they did the rest. The sponsorship turned from an idea (thank you Evie) to received funds in a matter of hours. The SPA (via DRC) are keeping our donations separate for Gus and we will decide how they are spent. The top of our list, once he is well enough, is to get him castrated.  This way he can be integrated with more dogs – his time spent at the refuge more enjoyable and he’ll be a more attractive prospect to potential adopters. It’s our great wish that this sweet boy is rehomed to a loving family, as all dogs deserve, and in the meantime we hope to help make his stay at the SPA as comfortable and happy as possible.

Sponsoring Gus has given us a purpose during our grief – we feel that we are doing something positive and worthwhile to remember our friend. We hope you are proud of us Darren; we miss you dreadfully but we will do our best to make a difference for Gus in your memory.

Darren Mann. 2nd December 1974 – 10th August 2014. Missed by all who knew him












Gus. A gentle soul












And Jane’s dog Rookie- just because Darren loved him


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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