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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

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
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Scooby Doo gets a cooling neck rub
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Balthazar enjoying a bath and a kiss from his God mummy

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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) 
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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!

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A change of life for Rafael

The weather was hot and humid today, but dog walking was possible, so dog walking was done. Thanks to those who came along, devoted as ever.

We did have one adoption, that of five year old German shepherd, Rafael. He had arrived in the refuge at the beginning of June, after a very unsettled life. SPA employee (and volunteer) Melanie finally brought him in after his narcotic addicted owner appeared to have abandoned him. Once he was at the SPA she phoned a couple of times to hurl abuse at Carole and to demand her dog back, but admitted that she had an upcoming prison sentence and did not know what she would do with her dog while she was “inside”.

So today’s adoption will definitely mean a big change for Rafael. His owners are not in the first flush of youth, but neither is he. And they have a friend who will be taking care of the dog, who will spend the most of his life in a huge enclosed garden and being petted. He was due to be welcomed to his new home with an ice cream, so he will be feeling a lot cooler now, after the heat of the SPA.

We had a new arrival, little Puppet, who was found in St Frichoux. The people who found her tried to trace her owners, but with no luck.  What a pint sized cutie she is! Puppet will have no trouble finding a home, I am sure!

Other than that it was a day for pictures. Michele is an excellent photographer, and we are hoping that her photos may encourage some people to adopt. Who knows there may even be a calendar in the offing….watch this space!

Rafael – ADOPTED











New arrival – three year old Puppet

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And look at Michele’s wonderful photo of recent arrival Brad


A sad farewell to foster dog, Alfi.

Today was a very sad one for the refuge and especially for two of our most devoted supporters. I blogged about Fred and Margaret in June 2013, saying the following: “Several months ago a couple arrived at the refuge to adopt a dog as a playmate for their own dog. I chatted to them briefly and told asked them to do the tour of the refuge to see who they liked the look of before making any introductions. They returned shortly afterwards to ask about a little old Yorkie who was cowering in his box, having recently arrived at the refuge. Fred and Margaret have a soft spot for Yorkies, having had them before. They left the refuge with heavy hearts, as adopting an old dog was not at all what they had planned. However the next day, unable to get Alfi (or Flamenco as he then was) off their minds, they came to the refuge to take him home to foster. This means that Alfi (who would have been extremely difficult to home, due to his age and the inevitable vets bills) has a loving home, and Fred and Margaret are to all intents and purposes his owners.”

Alfi / Flamenco arrived at the refuge in November 2012. His health had never been good, as he had a serious heart condition for which he was prescribed tablets (possibly the reason why he had been abandoned). He had regular check-ups at the SPA vets, with Fred and Margaret making long journeys each time to ensure that Alfi got the best of care. Fred is one of our most avid supporters, and is often to be seen at Vide Greniers, raising money for the SPA to cover Alfi’s vets bills.

Alfi’s health has deteriorated rapidly over the last week, with Fred and Margaret spending many nights awake with him as water started to fill his lungs. A series of visits to the vets concluded this morning, with Alfi being put gently to sleep before his suffering became too great.

So tonight I want to say a huge public thank you to Fred and Margaret and their devotion both to the SPA and to this little dog, who had 18 months of nothing but love and good care. Who knows what would have happened to him had he not been taken under their wing. Even though Alfi’s death is very sad, how much sadder for the old dogs who die in the SPA, rather than in a loving home.

Thank you to all our other foster families, and to everyone who is willing to adopt an elderly dog. You are all heroes.

Every day brings both rain and shine, and of course we have some good news to pass on. Bond, who left for the UK (thanks to Moira’s networking and James’s driving) along with five other lucky dogs, has found a home! It took six weeks, which may seem like a long time, but it was nothing compared to the 19 months that he had spent at the SPA Carcassonne. And while he was at the association he had some lovely adventures!  Needless to say Dominique cried. Honestly, there is no pleasing some people 😉

Margaret with Alfi last June. He was loved to his last breath. 








Bond at the UK Association Many Tears – ready to leave!

















Water sports!


Midsummer’s Day brings freedom to Junior!

Today was a scorcher, and walking the dogs was quite amusing. Several of them ran from tree to tree, where they would lie down enjoying some shade before moving on to the next oasis! It is a tough call as to whether to walk them at all, but bearing in mind they get so few chances to exercise, it is a shame to deny them this pleasure, just because it is hot. Walks are kept short and we make sure that there is plenty of cool water and shade for when they return to their kennels.

Of course another option is to put dogs in the parks. But we learned something today (or at least I did). At about 16H00 Kaira was rushed to the vet, with suspected bloat. Kaira is a dogue de Bordeaux, and they are susceptible to this condition and in fact we nearly lost Kaira earlier this year when she had an emergency operation. Since this time she has had fewer, smaller meals a day.

Today her condition looked very similar, but it turned out to be due to having drunk too much water. So we now know not to put obese or deep chested dogs in the parks when it is hot. They run around and drink too much and get a kind of heat stroke.

Kaira will be fine, and we have learned a valuable lesson.

So what other news? Well, yet another amazing adoption took place today. At the age of nearly eleven, and after over nine months at the SPA, Junior found a home! He stole a young couple’s heart thanks to the (French language) SPA website http://spa-carcassonne.wifeo.com/ and when they visited him, it just confirmed their choice. Junior will have a huge area to play in, and is going to be a very happy dog indeed.

Kaira – too hot, too much to drink. (anyone else guilty?) 😉







Junior- (who is a senior) – ADOPTED

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Arrival of strange looking beastie, and dog beater let off virtually scot-free

Yesterday’s blog was quite rightly devoted to Braquou and the efforts that have been made (thanks to Moira) to get him out of the SPA. I can tell you that he (and James) arrived safe and sound, and that Braquou is now settling in. More photos will arrive. Thanks to Benedicte for his Adaptil collar. If you don’t know about these, they are said to emit the same pheromones as the mother, so help the dog to relax in a new environment. I have never needed them (for my dogs, I mean), but I am told they are very effective.

I was at the refuge today when a new little chap arrived. We have called him Berny, but that is not his real name. We haven’t been able to find that out, as although he is identified, it is a foreign microchip, so it takes a bit more work to find out where this dog came from (Croatia, we think), and more importantly, where he should go! It is possible that his owners may see his photo either here or on Facebook, but in any case, I wanted to show you his photo, as Berny is yet another mystery mix.

What do you reckon? Obviously some teckel (look at his paws), but surely that head belongs to a much bigger dog? Is it possible to have a rhodesian ridgeback/ teckel cross? In any case, with his curly tail and stumpy size, Berny is quite something to look at!

In other catch-up news, Sultan who went missing yesterday (and volunteer Anna was involved in the drama when she bumped into the distraught owner) was reunited with his mum via the SPA. Wally, the spitz (who arrived on Thursday where we named him Cliff) was reclaimed too!

In worse news, today was the date of the court case of the man who was found beating his dog, Phoenix, in the centre of Carcassonne. He was saved by a brave woman, Audrey, who subsequently adopted him via the SPA. So what punishment was meted out to this man? A 2 month suspended sentence, that is all he got, along with a 300 euro fine (which he is unlikely to ever pay), and a ban on owning animals for five years, which of course will not be controlled or enforced.

This is simply disgraceful and shows yet again why those of us who love animals must never give up, even when it appears that the justice system does nothing to help our cause. For French speakers amongst you, here is the article:

Hey ho, onward and upward!

Berny arrives – but what is he?



















News from Rudy and for once a new arrival cheers us up!

Like most days at the SPA, today was good and bad.

We had a wonderful email from the adopters of Rudy, the Rottweiler, who are just thrilled with him and are busy regaling us with his adventures. A bit like Tom, it is just a shame that this elderly dog spent so long in the refuge before finding his home. But I bet we are a distant memory to him now. Looking at this photograph it is hard to believe that a mere 8 days ago he was in a refuge.

On the negative side, Coffee was returned to us. Not because he had done anything wrong, but because the gentleman’s other dog just will not accept him. Compatibility testing of the dogs was carried out at the refuge, where the two dogs got on fine. However once Coffee was on the other dog’s territory, it was war. Sometimes there is nothing to be done. For Coffee’s safety the only solution was to bring him back. I have seen people crying when bringing dogs to the refuge and it always makes me weepy. I was not there today, but apparently it was very distressing to see a dignified gentleman in tears. Poor Coffee, but also in this case, poor owner. And poor Carole who had to try and comfort him.

This blog is dedicated to dogs, as you know. But occasionally other animals are mentioned, like the beautiful cat, Cheewies, whose photo appeared yesterday. Today we are talking humans! As of yesterday we have a new member of the SPA family, and I am sure you will all want to join me in wishing congratulations to employee Melissa, who gave birth to a baby girl, Maëlya. Although we have seen photos of her baby, Melissa has requested that none are put on the internet, which I quite understand. However, I can assure you that despite Melissa’s preferences in dogs, Maëlya bears no resemblance to a staff!

Coffee- returned for his own safety 🙁










Rudy contemplates life outside the SPA












And Melissa’s dogs. Her daughter is much prettier than this lot!


Home comforts, paddling pools and photographs!

Now here is something a bit different for a Sunday. A British couple has been in touch to offer their services. They have a website http://www.furnitureforfrance.co.uk/, which, as you would imagine, enables you to order furniture for delivery to France. However they are planning a trip soon dedicated to other items, such as groceries, paint, DIY good etc and 100% of their charges will be donated to the SPA!

The last day on which goods can be delivered to Alistair and Eva’s home address is July 12th. So if there is anything you are after, why not get in touch with them. They will be delivering to Quillan, Mirepoix and Carcassonne at the end of July (and you just know that one of Team Quillan will deliver anything to the SPA if you ask them nicely).

What a kind offer from them, and what an innovative way to raise funds! They are also planning on bringing back a couple of doggie swimming pools for the SPA. That will be great, as in this weather there is nothing nicer for our dogs than a relaxing dip. Zina, one of our category 1 dogs is a big fan of her pool (she lives in the park with Tiger so can take a dip whenever she likes). She has lost a bit of weight recently as at one stage the Archimedes principle was working against her! Zina in; water out!

If you have any old, unwanted paddling pools, please think of us. Some people have an old child’s sand pit lying around, they can be just as good. It really does make a huge difference to the dogs. The parks do not have much shade (trees have been planted recently, but they take time to grow) so a pool is one way of really making the most of the parks.

Today was a landmark day for the SPA Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SPA.CARCASSONNE), which has just received its 8500 “like”. We have a lot of followers, which is great news. We work hard at keeping things up to date, so thanks to everyone for their help. Each time a dog is either reclaimed or homed thanks to Facebook, or a donation made, all the hard work is vindicated. Taking photos of the dogs as they arrive is time consuming, but it is very important, as without this, people may assume that their dog has not been found, and may well not bother contacting us.

Not only that, but it is good to keep taking photos of dogs who have been with us for a while. Sometimes we have a new Facebook “fan” who may notice a dog who has been there for ages, or just occasionally a photo of a dog taken from a different angle will attract the attention of someone who would perhaps have never noticed that dog otherwise.

So to all you photographers out there: if you are walking a SPA dog, old or new, and happen to have your camera with you, please don’t hesitate to send a copy either by pm or just directly onto the page. One of the administrators will add it to the dog’s album, with pleasure. Photos of cats are needed too, of course, and as in this weather they tend to move less, now is a great time for some super shots!

Zina cools off









A wonderful recent photo of Taser by new volunteer, Mish








And here is chilled out cat, Cheewies, also by Mish.