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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

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.


Carlos leaves, four dogs arrive and leave and we visit Tom!

My day started off in a joyous manner ! I said in yesterday’s blog that puppy Jazz had been adopted on paper but that he had not yet joined his family. Well this morning I was invited along by Isa, his foster mum, when he went to his new home. Isa quite naturally wanted to see where Jazz would be living, but of course there was another motive. The new owners of Jazz are the same people who adopted Tom from us earlier this week.

Not only that, Elena, formerly of the Twilight litter, was there too, as she is owned by friends of the family. Everyone made friends and we stayed for about 20 minutes watching the dogs interact. It was lovely to see Tom looking so settled and little Jazz seemed very happy, although he is bound to miss Isa and her dogs, who have been his friends for the past 12 days. I left with a smile on my face, Isa left with tears in her eyes. The life of a foster family is not easy.

I saw Isa again during the afternoon, as not only did she come to walk dogs, but she also brought us a dog whom she had found lost yesterday (just before the huge thunderstorm) and who had spent the night at her house. Yes, that was five dogs under the same roof. Good to see I am not the only crazy one around! In any case, the dog was tattooed, but the tattoo was illegible and so there was no option but to bring her to the SPA and let Carole do her magic (using question marks in the place of the illegible letters). BINGO!

The dog was a Shiba Inu called Akira, and her owners came to collect her straight away, also asking for advice on how to stop her straying. They may even take up the suggestion of getting a second dog, so watch this space.

It was a great end to the day, too, as we had a wonderful adoption.

Carlos arrived with us at the age of seven in November 2013 and until coming to us he had seen little joy. He used to guard a garage, and when this went bust, he was no longer required and was dumped at the SPA. I will never forget the heartbreaking scene of him clinging to his master’s legs as he was being abandoned. Nor will I forget our fury when the man who had just dumped Carlos started to tour the kennels to look for a puppy.

While he was with us Carlos probably had more love than in his whole life. And that is set to continue, as he left today with a lovely family and their Carlos look-a-like, Gypsy. Yes, he is going back to live a garage, but one look at the family’s other dog and you know that this is a completely different situation. He will have company all day and a huge park to play in. He has a lot of time to make up for.

Three other dogs arrived and left with their owners (all being identified). A good day at the SPA!

First contact- Isa introduces Jazz to his new canine family

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Tom, all proud and happy!

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Akira  at the SPA before being reclaimed. (she was IDENTIFIED)

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This boy popped in but left ( he was IDENTIFIED)

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And Carlos was adopted after 7 months.

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Three dogs leave, including an oldie :)

When Zoey arrived at the refuge we were sure someone would come looking for her. Firstly she was tattooed, (details no longer up to date and no trace of the people, despite our usual efforts). Not only this, but she had undergone a major operation to put a metal plate in her leg. This would have been very costly, so clearly someone loved this dog. Or used to.

Carole contacted all the local vets capable of carrying out such an operation, plus those further afield, but it was impossible to find anyone who knew this dog. So what do we do? Do we keep the dog (who is already 12 years old) indefinitely, or do we do what we are meant to do, ie give the owners 10 days to claim her then do our best to find her a new home, despite her age.

The latter of course. The refuge is hot and after all, Zoey arrived on May 24th. We cannot keep her for ever. Especially when thanks to Facebook, someone offers her a home! Yippee! Zoey left us today; another oldie safe and happy!

The young labrador who arrived yesterday after having seen straying for weeks in Carcassonne turned out to be micro-chipped. Moreover, his owner, who lives in Ille sur Têt in Department 66, has been actively searching for him since April 10th. She came to collect Boudha today and yet again we see the importance of identification. We will never know how he came to be so far from home, but the main thing is that dog and owner are happily reunited.

In other news we know that Atlas (now Sam) has arrived safe and sound and has slotted in with his new family and 2 female doggy friends (plus cats and chickens) without a hitch. Already off the lead and jumping into the family’s lake, like a normal labrador! “Papi” Tom is also a very happy boy. It made me a bit sad to hear that his owners’ only regret is that they did not adopt him a year ago, which would have saved him all that wasted time. Still, better late than never, and he, like Zoey, will not be a dog who dies of old age in a refuge.

We have several more oldies; they, especially the bigger ones, are the hardest to home. Open your heart! I know many people hesitate, as they know that they may soon be grieving, but this is not necessarily the case; even big dogs can surprise you in terms of longevity when they have a reason to live. And what better reason than a loving home?

At the other end of the age spectrum, puppy Jazz was adopted today too, on paper at least. Isabelle, who has been looking after him in foster, is delivering him to his new home tomorrow. Many thanks to her for saving this puppy from the heat and confusion of the SPA.

So three dogs have homes and we had no arrivals. A good day!

Zoey, aged 12 – ADOPTED









Boudha- missing for 2 months, Identified so reunited with his owner













And Jazz is adopted too!


Atlas travels to his new home, Speedy is adopted too!

Today was a very happy day for two dogs. First there was Atlas, a dog that I just love, and in fact Moira and Karen love him so much that they fight for the right to take him on walks!

Atlas arrived at the refuge for the first time in 2011, when he was found tied to a tree in the middle of nowhere, presumably expected to die. Luckily for him, his frantic barking attracted someone’s attention and he came to the SPA, where he spent several months before being adopted. Although he was young he suffered from black dog syndrome, by which I mean that a non-black dog as beautiful and well-behaved would probably have been adopted quicker.

All went well until Atlas was brought back to the SPA by his family who said he had become difficult. He didn’t seem particularly difficult to us, just a bit bigger. That was in November 2013 and Atlas has been waiting ever since. As I say, he has been very popular with the volunteers, and of late also with his female kennel mate, Pocahontas.

Today he left for his new home, thanks to Doglinks, our sister site. He left via a hastily but efficiently arranged co-voiturage to Limoges. Thanks to Dominique and Melanie for arranging this, and to the drivers, Marie-Pierre and David, each of whom did a stretch of the journey. I await news of Atlas’s arrival and will pass on photos.

There was another wonderful adoption today, that of Speedy. This little dog has been at the refuge since October 2013, and it must have felt like a lifetime for this little ball of energy. The lady who adopted him says she has another dog who is equally lively, so she is hoping they will wear each other out! Speedy will adore the freedom of being out of the refuge and already seemed to know that his life is about to change.

Sadly there were some new arrivals. A young black dog who has been wondering stray in Carcassonne for weeks was finally brought in. And we had two arrivals from Quillan, whom we have named Quirk and Quincy. Quincy is likely to leave us quickly (assuming the person to whom he is micro-chipped does not want to reclaim him), but I have taken a bit of a shine to Quirk, who is nervous at first, but sticks to you like glue once he knows you mean him no harm. He has gentle eyes, and I have promised we will find him a lovely home, as I do to all the new arrivals.

I say goodbye to Atlas. Note kiss-mark on leg 🙂

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Speedy – ADOPTED

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New arrival  Quincy

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And his pal Quirk

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