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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

Things can only get better…..

The refuge was open today and despite the foul weather, there were a fair few volunteers to help out. This was fortunate, as it is holiday time, and in terms of employees, only Melissa and Melanie were present. Not that there were many visitors, but we needed manpower (or actually woman-power) in any case.

The afternoon started with Bones being abandoned. Strangely enough this young dog does not like being left in a garden all day, so he escapes. And although he is fine indoors, his new owner would rather abandon him than leave him inside all day. The dog gets no vote, clearly.

He is now back with his old pal, Gary, and we hope better things await.

A small baby pinscher was found somewhere between Limoux and Carcassonne. He had spent the night at the home of the gentleman who had found him, and, thanks to this we know that Sputnik, as we have named him, is good with cats. We also know that he is fine with dogs, as he played with the two dogs in the infirmary and is now in the cat house playing with Latte.

The main excitement of the day resulted in our having to call the Police due to a rather aggressive visitor. I don’t want to mention any names at this point, not even that of the dog he was trying to abandon. However I would like to thank the two young guys who were looking to adopt a cat for wading in to help us, and I would like to apologise to the family with the young child, who heard some words that children of his age should not be exposed to. Please, if you are cross with us because a dog is not perfect, take a deep breath before you launch in with all guns blazing.

A few things you need to remember: Firstly it is you who has chosen the dog. We have not forced you to adopt him or her. Secondly, we cannot possibly know if the dog is a runner. Don’t tell us that we much know this because the dog “came from the Pound”. We ARE the pound, and we do not let our dogs off the leash. Thirdly, what difference does it make if a female has had a litter? All females leave us sterilised, and I can assure you that we do not mix males and females unless one or the other is sterilised. We do not breed puppies, we get enough brought in without adding to the problem.

Finally, we do not reimburse adoption fees. We are a charity and we survive on adoption fees and donations. An animal is not a piece of furniture; you don’t take it home to find out how it suits your life and then bring it back if it does not fit. Being aggressive with us will not change our minds.

And no, we will not let you swap one dog for another. Once you have shown your lack of patience with one dog, why should we let you do so on a new one? They are living creatures, and bringing them back must cause them no end of confusion.

Just so you all know, we have had 30 dogs brought in since December 15th. Admittedly some of them have been reclaimed, but forgive us if we don’t jump at the chance to accept back an animal because you have changed your mind. There is bound to be a period of adjustment, especially with all the additional stresses of Christmas time, so please make a bit of effort.

Bones is brought back











And Baby Sputnik arrives.


Xmas in the warm for Kalie, at least.

Well, another day of mainly bad news. Four more dogs arrived, and as the refuge is shut tomorrow, even if their owners are looking for them, they will have to wait till the 26th (or Boxing Day, as we Brits call it). So 24 more paws are in the cold tonight. Their photos are on Facebook, so perhaps some minds can be laid to rest. Or perhaps no one is looking!

However it was not all bad news. The elderly husky cross who was brought in yesterday but whose owners we could not track down was reclaimed today. This was thanks to a Facebook supporter of the SPA page, Veronique, to whom we sent the dogs identification details yesterday. Her research started  immediately and she sent us a phone number where we should be able to find the owner.

Melissa (who is standing in for Carole who in turn is having a well-earned break) made the call and 30 minutes later fifteen year old Kalie was on her way home. The refuge now has up to date details of the owner, so if Kalie arrives again, we will be able to call her straight away.

Many thanks to Veronique. This is not the first time she has helped us out.

Two dogs were reserved today, too, and news of their departures will be announced in due course. And we had some last minute Christmas goodies delivered by dogs’ sponsors.

I will not be blogging tomorrow, by the way. British people tend to celebrate with a huge  lunch on the 25th, as opposed to the evening of the 24th, and by this time tomorrow I plan to be relaxing in a chair and refusing all offers of “just another wafer thin mint”

Business as usual on Thursday, when the refuge reopens!

Happy Christmas everyone!

15 year old Kalie finds her owner!












And some last minute gifts arrive (thanks!)


Do they know it’s Christmas ?

Do the animals at the refuge know it is Christmas? What a ridiculous question; of course they don’t. The employees and volunteers certainly do, though.

Some of this is for positive reasons; the arrival of gifts, the donation of money, the purchase of treat filled baubles for the dogs and cats. Thanks to everyone who has donated, you have been incredibly generous.  However the clearest indication that it is the holidays is the arrival of large numbers of dogs.

Today we had four new arrivals (well, five, but one was reclaimed). I fear that the owners have gone on holiday and can’t (or won’t) pay for kennels, like the “gentleman” who left his dog, Kenpeh, on Saturday, so he could spend Christmas in Martinique.

However bearing in mind that three of today’s four arrivals are very old, it is also possible that money has played a role. The fifteen year old dog may well be on medication, and this may be an unwanted expense when there are presents and luxury food to be bought. Of course as the dogs were found straying, we do not know if /what medicines are required, so let’s just hope that we find out in time to stop the dog suffering.  I know it is the season of giving, but at the moment all I am being given are sleepless nights.

The other two oldies are between ten and fifteen, too, and I am sure they are not happy at being in a concrete box.

Our jubilation of last week has well and truly ended.

One bit of good news, though. Gold, the beautiful pedigree spaniel found his owners. Their phone number had changed, so we were not able to contact them immediately, however we always follow up with a letter, and this time it paid off.

In terms of numbers, though, things are not looking good.

Gold- reclaimed thanks to being identified.


One name two SPA organisations (take two)

This is the first Sunday for three weeks that the volunteers have not been busy at the refuge, or at Christmas markets various, so there is nothing new to report from the SPA. The very young puppies were bottle fed this morning and again this afternoon (thanks to Patricia and Anne-Marie) and the good news is that all three are eating the starter food that is essential if they are to survive. Thanks to those of you who have donated to help them. We really appreciate your support.

But on to other matters.

This is not the first time that I have written about this topic, but for reasons that will become obvious I am tackling it again.

There are two separate SPA organisations. There is the Paris group and there is the Lyon group. Each has a separate website and they are different in many ways. The SPA Carcassonne belongs to the Lyon group, which is a federation of independent SPAs, established in 1926. We have no connection at all with the Paris group, apart from sharing the same initials.

The French equivalent of Private Eye, Le Canard Enchaîné, recently did an exposure about the Paris SPA group, the number of euthanasias they carry out and the amount of money that is not accounted for. The Lyon group put out a stark defence, explaining that our hands are clean, and we at Carcassonne agree 100% with their position. We would like to state the following:

“The SPA of Carcassonne is not part of the Paris group of SPAs.

Thanks to its high media profile, the Paris SPA group is able to flood France with publicity and appeals for donations. Many people want to help their local SPA and so they respond to these requests. There are numerous key-rings and other nick-nacks on sale in shops and pharmacies in Carcassonne and signs say that the money raised will go to the SPA. In fact all the money will be sent to Paris”.

And after that who knows where it goes, but any organisation that pays high salaries to people doing jobs that are done by volunteers in other refuges needs to have a good look at itself and what it is trying to achieve and for whose benefit.

Here is the link to the Lyon Group, where you can see recent articles and news.

On the subject of euthanasia, someone contacted me yesterday following my blog about Karting/ Spike to say what a good thing it is that we are a “no kill” shelter. I have got so used to this state of affairs, that it hadn’t even occurred to me that in many other refuges, Karting may well have been put to sleep. After all, he was an elderly dog who had little chance of being adopted. My main thought when he was collected was not “Thank heavens we hadn’t put him to sleep” but rather “Thank heavens we hadn’t castrated him”. Not that I am anti-castration, far from it (as many of you, including my dogs, know), but it is interesting that I was worried about his owners being upset about Karting’s family jewels, whereas in fact far, far worse could have happened!

Please get your dog micro-chipped if he/she isn’t already, and keep your details up to date on the central registry. That way you can be contacted if your dog arrives at a SPA (be it part of the Paris or Lyon group) Fewer unidentified dogs means far fewer dogs to rehome! Karting’s lost seven months could easily have been avoided.

Hand in hand for life.

Three more dogs leave….BUT

This afternoon got off to one of the best and most emotional starts ever. After having spent 7 months at the refuge, Karting was reclaimed by his owners today. He was found thanks to Facebook, and in fact until today they were not sure that Karting really was their dog (who incidentally is called Spike). He had been found 25 kms away from the family’s house, and they had just recently moved. They hadn’t given up hope, though, but were not expecting to find Spike/Karting so far from home.

It was an emotional reunion, to say the least, with this lovely elderly German Shepherd crying with delight to see his family and also giving kisses to all the employees and volunteers who had been walking and looking after him. Lovely way to start the afternoon.

Nady had left this morning for her new family, thanks to Doglinks. Organising dog transport is one of the hardest things there is, but on this occasion it was a doddle. A Facebook appeal resulted in an immediate offer of a lift and the driver was put in touch with the adopter and everyone just got on with it, despite the worries about a language barrier. Brilliant and stress free for us!

Apart from the adoption of Portos, the third of the three Muskateers, the rest of the afternoon was nothing but disaster after disaster. Two dogs were abandoned (but we knew about them, as they had been pre-booked, as it were). What we were not expecting were the two other dogs who were brought in having been found straying. And we certainly were not expecting the three puppies who had been found in a bag at the town dump. Well, four arrived, but the fourth, a beautiful female, did not pull through.

Whoever dumped the puppies deserves a special place in hell, if you ask me.

If you include the three puppies who arrived yesterday, that is 10 new dogs in two days. And how many dogs were adopted at the open days? Ten. Ever feel like you are running to stand still?

However we have to be happy for Karting/Spike and all the other dogs who have found new homes this week. And in a strange way, we have to be happy for the dogs who have arrived; at least they will be loved and cared for until they find a new home.

And I mustn’t forget to thank the donations of food that we received today. Thank you for not forgetting our four-legged friends at this time of year.

Karting (Spike) found after 7 months at the SPA







Nady on her journey








Portos leaves











Kenpeh arrives- his owners are going to Martinique for Xmas and don’t want to pay for kennels.










And Kopo arrives because he is “no longer required”

You won’t believe this, but….

I know this sounds too much of a coincidence, but today we had two more adoptions! The first was that of Linda. Linda means “beautiful” and it seemed an appropriate name for this stunning German shepherd.

No sooner were her photos on Facebook than we were contacted by a woman who asked for information about the dog. True to her word, she arrived at the refuge the following day to meet Linda. The link was instant and it was clear that the two of them had found a soul mate. Linda had seemed nervous in her cage but when she saw her potential owner, she changed completely. Today she went to be sterilised, but in fact this had already been done by her former owner. Someone had lost this girl, but as she was unidentified, we had no way of contacting them.

This is sad in a way, but as identification by either micro-chip or tattoo is compulsory, they only have themselves to blame.

Second to leave was Milady. The female puppy of the three Musketeers left for her new home. I am always happy when a puppy finds a home, rather than growing up in the refuge. And female pups tend to be more difficult to home, because rather than leaving sterilised, as do our adult females, the female puppies have to be sterilised at the owner’s expense. We insist on this, as there are already way too many puppies being born, and far too many of them arrive at the refuge.

Yesterday’s arrival, for instance, Latte, was the last of an unwanted litter that the irresponsible owner was unable to give away. We know this thanks to an anonymous phone call made to the refuge. Yes, but rather than bring him in whilst we were open, this woman left him tied up to the gate all night. Nice, eh?

And three more pups arrived today, no doubt for similar reasons. They are probably shih-tzu crosses and are likely to remain small, so it should be easy for them to find homes, but of course I always wonder if this is at the expense of our adults.

Still, all in all I have to say, another good day!

Linda- adopted!











Milady- Adopted












 A new puppy arrives 🙁



At the risk of repeating myself….

Believe it or not, two more dogs left the refuge today! Are you getting bored with the continuing good news? We aren’t!

First to leave on stage one of her no doubt amazing journey was Molly. She was adopted briefly a month or so ago by a lady who was unable to cope with Molly’s energy levels, so team Brit got into action and thanks to Elinor (proud mum of Malaga, ex of Carcassonne now of Scotland),  a home was found in the UK. But how to get her there? Answer: thanks to Veronique, the adopter of Megan, the sharpei cross. Wheels within wheels!

In any case, after being washed yesterday, Moira took Molly to meet Megan in Montpelier! Tomorrow she will leave for the UK and no doubt news will follow. Her new owner is experienced with this breed and she will have a lovely life.

Many thanks to Moira and Veronique and her husband Andrew for their help with the journey. Don’t forget, we have a lift going to UK in mid-January, so if you would like one of our dogs, he or she will need to be vaccinated for rabies soon in order to be ready in time!

Second to leave today was Bubble, a lovely girl who is 50% cavalier King Charles, and 50% sausage, but 100% adorable! She was sterilised today and left with her proud new mum. She, too, is going to be very happy.

Now I know what you are thinking. You think that I am protecting you from the bad news. But to be honest, we are having a very positive time right now. A dog did arrive and was reclaimed (thanks to his micro-chip). And one puppy did arrive (Latte, below), but the other albums that I will add to our Facebook page are dogs who have been at the refuge for a few days but who had not had their photos taken before. The numbers really are going down!

Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow; it is possible that we will have a week with adoptions every day!

Molly’s journey begins
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Bubble (now Kimmy-Bubble) is adopted






Latte arrives


And another two!

Two more dogs left the refuge today, so the sun is still shining on us!

Remember little Dylan? Arrived at the refuge complete with ringworm with his brother and sister, Dougal and Florence who all went to live with Lisa and Andrew as The Magic Roundabout Litter. Dougal and Florence were adopted successfully but Dylan was brought back after a week, as his puppyish behaviour was disturbing the family’s very timid dog. I will never forget the contract of abandon, which ended with the words “WE WERE TOLD HE WAS HOUSE-TRAINED. HE IS NOT” . No you weren’t told that, he is a puppy and accidents will happen. Sorry, I am still a bit angry with these selfish, thoughtless people.

In any case, Dylan went back to live with Lisa and Andrew, but they left at the weekend for a Christmas break, and so little Dylan changed home yet again. He went to live with volunteer Estelle. She was coerced into taking home a training cage (she is one of the people who believed caging a dog is cruel), so we were surprised to receive a photo of one of Estelle’s own dogs (whom she normally has to separate from any other males, as he is not known for his tolerance), in Dylan’s cage having a nap with his new baby brother!

In any case, Dylan came along to the open day, and on Sunday he found his family at last. He left today and this time, fingers crossed, it is for good. He has understandably started to suffer from hyper-attachment, but his new family have lots of love and patience and the wife is at home all day to reassure this young lad who has had such a disrupted life up till now.

The other adoption was one of our three musketeers, Athos. He arrived with his brother and sister at the age of just six weeks and has been living in the infirmary with them ever since, until we were sure they were strong enough to leave. All three of them were reserved very quickly but Athos is the first to be adopted.

So two more dogs in the warm. I am running out of wood to touch; we are having a good patch!

Virus, who hates other dogs, having a nap with Dylan, who loves his cage. Please note, the door is OPEN! No cruelty was used in the taking of this photo!










Athos – adopted


And the good news just keeps on coming!

Well yet another day with good news!

A few weeks ago Moira blogged about how Khensit, the last of the Egyptian Deities litter went on her first ever walk. Well, today she left the refuge for the final time. She didn’t actually leave on her own two feet; she had just been sterilised and was still a bit dozy, so she left in the arms of her new owner. Khensit had arrived as a tiny puppy of two months and now she is six months old, however thanks to the volunteers and employees, she is happy and well socialised.

Interestingly enough, her adopters had been to the puppy sale which took place this weekend (deliberately to coincide with the SPA open weekend, without doubt) and had found the experience really upsetting, with lorries full of screaming puppies parked up and tiny dogs stuffed into cages. So they came to the SPA and got a fabulous young dog for a fraction of the price knowing the adoption of whom was not going to the pocket of an unscrupulous breeder.

And we had another adoption today, that of Bones, our young Beacueron, who much to everyone’s surprise has spent about 10 weeks at the refuge. I thought he would have been snapped up. However today was his turn; a lady who had visited us on Sunday without her dog returned today to make sure they were compatible (which we recommend whenever possible). The two dogs got on like a house on fire, so it was time to say goodbye to Bones. I am not sure how effective he will be as a guard dog, but he could do an impression of a fierce beast if you asked nicely, I expect!

So another good day. Let’s hope it continues like this!

Khensit leaves at last











Bye-Bye Bones 





Solo is alone no more!

I can almost not believe that I am writing these words, but today, Solo was adopted! His story is in many ways typical of a refuge dog. He was found and brought in by the police; very nervous almost to the point of appearing aggressive, clearly as the result of mistreatment. Solo arrived when he was out of the cute puppy phase and he has spent 18 months at the refuge, as being black he looks like so many other dogs and had nothing to draw the eye.

However to people who took the trouble to look, Solo had a certain something. I have always been a huge fan of his, mostly because he looked so much like my lab, Nero, when he was abandoned at the same age. I have watched Solo grow up in the refuge, he has changed kennel mates several times; like Kayser and Bond, he has seen his pals being adopted many times. He has learned everything he knows from the employees and volunteers; he has never known the love of a home.

In May this year, a couple who live in Limoges and who had already adopted a dog from us, came to a village close to Carcassonne on holiday. I have been friends with them on Facebook since their adoption of Stitch, and so they came along to the SPA to say hello (Stitch was delivered to them, we had never met) and also to do some dog-walking. One of the dogs they walked was Solo, and they have never forgotten him; buying him a bauble for the Christmas tree and sending him gifts from time to time.

They have finally cracked, and decided to add this marvellous dog to their pack. One of our fab foster families, Lucie, drove Solo part of the way today, and Linda and Dean met their already beloved dog. Eighteen months of refuge life are over for Solo. I will really miss him; he has always been one of my favourites, but I know he has a great life ahead of him. The first photos are certainly promising!
And if that wasn’t enough good news, Galia and Galaxy left TOGETHER! A family was trying to choose between these 2 puppies at the refuge yesterday. They finally opted for Galaxy, only to phone up later on in the afternoon to say that they would like to take the girl too. Just fabulous!

Sadly I have no photos of Galaxy to show you, but I am sure we will have news of him in due course and he is certain to be happy with his new family.

Morale remains high….for now!

Solo starts his journey








Aaah, that’s better!










Galia leaves with Galaxy, whose photos never even made it onto Facebook!