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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

A quick in and out for an identified old dog!

We had a sad arrival today, and initially we were worried that after the elation of Tom’s adoption yesterday, we had a replacement, but this time even older and blind to boot. Bobby is 14 years old and is blind. He is tattooed and despite his age, the tattoo is still legible. Only problem was that the owner’s details were out of date and the phone number was no longer in service. Luckily Bobby’s owners were looking for him, and he spent just a few hours at the SPA before leaving us for cooler climes! They left happily and have promised to get things put right on the database. But in any case, once a dog has been to us, we have a record of his id number and so we can contact his owners again should their dog make a return visit. In fact quite often when the Police Municipal show up with a dog, there is a chorus from the employees or volunteers of “Oh, it is So and So”, and Carole just calls the owners without even checking the chip. No one is on speed dial to the best of my knowledge, but almost!

At the SPA we are reminded every day why identification of animals is important. In fact I had coffee with a volunteer this morning and even her house-rabbit was identified. Peace of mind! But the arrival of Bobby shows that if your details are not up to date, identification does not save your dog or cat (or indeed rabbit) from being, to all intents and purposes, lost.

When a dog or cat leaves the SPA, they are initially identified in our name, as is the law. We send the paperwork to Paris, and once we receive this back, we change the ownership details to those of the adopter. During this “in-between time”, should your animal go missing, we are the ones who will be contacted (as it is our details on the date base). But of course we know where to find the new owners, and so the circle is closed. Once the final transfer of ownership is complete, we will no longer be the middle man; you will be contacted directly by the vet or SPA, or whoever has custody of your dog.

This is why in addition to micro-chipping, a collar with your phone number on it is invaluable. No need for the person finding the animal to trek to the vet to borrow a micro-chip reader; he can just call you directly. As someone helpfully wrote last time I mentioned the importance of identification (even in the form of tags), the little medals can be ordered on line for just a couple of euros. Again, not much to pay for peace of mind.

By the way, as of about the last six months an owner has the right to change the name and address of their dog. However there is a field that is closed to the public, that of “name at birth”. It is here that Carole notes the dog’s reference number and writes “SPA Carcassonne”. This way, even a dog found years later and miles away from the SPA can be traced back to us. If his owners do not want him, he will always have a home at the SPA Carcassonne until a better one comes along.

We did have a new arrival today, unidentified. Meet Zephyr, a young male who is fine with other dogs and we hope will soon be on the way to a new home, complete with micro-chip, of course!

Bobby – 14 years old and blind, but identified and reclaimed











New arrival- Zephyr


Tom is adopted!

As some of you may have noticed I have been absent for a week or so. Thus apart from a few log-ins in between meetings, I like you, have been following the goings on at the refuge via the blog. Like you, I noticed the large number of adoptions. Like many of you, I have been wondering how many dogs had arrived during this period. The SPA Facebook page is normally pretty up to date, but of course if no one is there to take the photos, then it falls behind.

So although I was looking forward to going to the SPA this afternoon, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Was Moira hiding the inconvenient truth? Was the place fuller than when I left it? You, like me, will be pleased to hear that things have not been too bad on the arrivals front. While I was away the total number of dogs went up by just two! But I seem to have brought bad luck, as two more arrived today.

First was Praline, who was adopted from us in January. He was given away by his adopters several months ago (which is clearly against the terms of the contract), and apparently even the new owners didn’t want him. They went on holiday leaving the dog outside, and the children inside. No comment. We contacted the original owners, who sent us an email to say they no longer want the dog. So Praline, whom we have renamed Iron, is available for adoption. He is eight months old today. It makes me sad, because his brother, Cacao (renamed Kobi) was adopted by volunteer Rosa and is having a wonderful life. Still, let’s hope Iron has more luck next time around. If you like lurcher-y types, he could be for you!

The other of today’s arrivals is a lovely girl whose owner died. She is called Dali and we know that she is not good with cats, which is why the people who took her on after her owner’s death are unable to keep her.

But there was some good news, too. And I am talking good news with a capital G!

This is fabulous news, and I know that Dominique will be crying as she reads this. She has sponsored Tom since he arrived and walked him religiously every time she came to the SPA. It is a huge relief to all of us that this lovely old boy has found a home, and better news still that it is with neighbours of mine, and I can pop in at any time to see him. If she is good I may even invite Dominique along!

So two dogs out, and one in. The place was in good hands while I was away. Ever felt dispensable? 🙂

New arrival – IRON (ex Praline). Found in a rubbish dump, adopted as a puppy, given away and now back at the SPA, all by the age of 8 months.
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But guaranteed to raise morale – Tom, adopted at the age of 11 and a half

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Fundraising and prizewinning!

The refuge was shut today, as it was Pentecost. This means that apart from the staff cleaning, feeding and giving medicines in the morning, the dogs were on their own. Maybe just as well bearing in mind how hot it was today! Any volunteers coming to walk dogs from now on are well advised to bring water and hats, as it is pretty exposed countryside, and we don’t want any sunburn casualties!

On the subject of sunburn, two of our dedicated volunteers, Di and Fred, did separate Vide Greniers in their respective villages yesterday. Di says she looks like a beetroot, but I am sure she has cooled down by now. In any case, despite the searing heat, which affected the number of visitors, a total of over €150 was raised, which is great. We have lots of new fundraising ideas following our team meeting last week, and for some of them some “seed money” is required, so this could be enough to get us going.

I usually use “quiet days” to show pictures of former SPA dogs in their new homes, and as luck would have it, we received a perfect picture yesterday. Here is Maddie (ex Malaga) who was adopted in September 2013 by our great supporter Elinor. She lives in Bonnie Scotland where she is having a life that many dogs can only dream of.

Yesterday Maddie took part in the Mugdock family dog show, and she won first prize in her class. Apparently the judges adored her. It is true that they probably don’t see many examples of this breed (a griffon blue de Gascogne), and Maddie attracted a lot of attention. Especially when she decided to sit on top of a staffie as the grass was too ticklish! Bear in mind that in the UK (and further to yesterday’s post) staffies are quite rightly regarded as perfect family pets (when in the right hands). This boy certainly showed the breed’s tolerant side!

Also further to yesterday’s post and the restrictions on the rehoming of so called “dangerous” dogs in France, should you decide to take the plunge, we are there to help you through all the paperwork. Please don’t be put off, we just wanted you to be aware.

Maybe some of you follow us on Twitter, where we now have over 1300 followers. Our tweets are done by Veronique, who is bilingual, so posts appear in both languages. We use our twitter feed to highlight the plight of certain dogs, or to publicise upcoming events, but also to link to other articles of interest to dog lovers.

Please follow us on @spacarcassonne. ( https://twitter.com/SPACarcassonne ) And please retweet for us. Help us build up our following which will help get more dogs and cats adopted and more money raised.

Di at a Vide Grenier yesterday. Now nicely broiled.









Maddie finds a comfortable place to sit…..











…..before winning her rosette. First prize, no less!

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Good news Tuesday

Today was a happy, sunny day, with a good team of volunteers walking, as well as some good news.

One of the other visitors who came on Sunday spent a long time sitting in front of one of the cages, obviously transfixed by the dog inside. I knew that the dog had already been reserved, and was hoping that I was not going to have to be the bearer of bad tidings. No, this was in fact the woman who had reserved the dog, and just wanted to look at her new pal, who was waiting for today to be sterilised.

So today Mafalda left, after just 2 weeks at the SPA. She is a fabulous looking dog. On the photos she looks big, because she looks like a pure bred German Shepherd. Only difference is that she is full adult size but weighs just 17kg! So cute! We are delighted that she has found a home so soon, especially as someone put her on chien-perdu as being lost, but when Carole called the owner she was very cross that we had tracked her down.  It wasn’t her that was looking for the dog, by all accounts!  Mafalda will surely be better off in her new home, where she is very much wanted.

There was another adoption today, that of little Truffaut, who was found on a recent bank holiday in the cinema at Limoux (hence his name). Today a family came to us straight from the vets, where they had just said a sad goodbye to their dog of 15 years, who had died of terminal cancer. They could not imagine life without a dog, and the vet suggested that they pop to the SPA. I didn’t know this when I took newly adopted Truffaut to the vets to be chipped less than an hour later! The vet was as delighted as I was. There is no right or wrong time or “suitable delay” after the death of a dog, it is very much how the people feel. I think it is wonderful that this family was able to open their hearts again so soon, although to be fair they steered clear of any SPA  dogs who looked like their recently departed friend.

More good news: Willy was reclaimed! His owner had not informed her (adult) son of her plans to abandon the dog,  and so he came in to take the dog home. He is the one who looks after the dog most of the time in any case!

And a lovely girl arrived but left straight away because (all together now) SHE WAS MICRO-CHIPPED!

A good day! 🙂

Mafalda – ADOPTED









Truffaut – ADOPTED












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And a lovely girl leaves thanks to her microchip

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Arrivals, adoptees, and little jack finds his home.

In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that quite often an open day is the best (or sometimes only) chance for a whole  family to visit the SPA and that sometimes a reservation takes place later. Well, such was the case, with a dog who caught a family’s eye being reserved today. Makes it all worthwhile, somehow.  Much as the volunteers enjoy spending our time with the SPA dogs and cats, we have our own lives (and animals) too. So even though just walking the dogs and giving them company is reward in itself, a reservation is even better!

Also when I blogged last night I had not heard from Rebecca and Jane, who were at Caunes Minervois (see Saturday’s blog). They raised a massive 175 euros, and considering that was just in donations plus the selling of a few books, it is an incredible amount. Many thanks to them both.

The British fundraising team is meeting tomorrow and no doubt there will be more exciting events coming up. We are full of ideas, so watch this space. And if you follow Anglo Info, it is worth keeping an eye out there, too, as Ron is going to help us publicise future events.

It is great to hear about happy adoptions, and we already have news and photos of two very recently adopted dogs, Bones and Beauty. And here is one of lovely Megan, adopted last summer and now looking very relaxed.

We had two arrivals today, a puppy who is in foster with Isabelle, one of our volunteers. For the time being I have no information at all, except that he (or she) is not identified, but that should surprise no one. The second arrival was that of a two year old dog who was adopted from us as a puppy and is now unmanageable. Let’s see if we can get Willy (ex Hutch) back on track and find him a better home!

And the little jack who was found yesterday was reunited with his owners today, so many thanks to the lovely couple who looked after him and avoided him coming to the refuge.

As Mondays go it was pretty quiet. I know that will change as the week progresses. Let’s just hope it is in a positive direction!

Bones at home. Possibly chewing a bone!
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Beauty- already off the lead












Megan with her toy












Yesterday’s visitor, finds his home.

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And hot off the press, the puppy who arrived today. It is a boy!


Open Sunday brings smiles.

Today was the first Sunday of the month, so as usual the refuge was open. The sun shone, and we had a team of volunteers to walk dogs and introduce people to the dogs and cats (and vice versa). We don’t necessarily expect adoptions or even reservations to take place on these days, but for many people it is the only time they have as a family to come and visit the SPA, and quite often reservations follow once everyone has had time to reflect and discuss. One family came to walk dogs, saying that it was an opportunity for the whole family to do something outdoorsy together, and it kept the kids away from the TV and video games. Much better to be out in the fresh air!

That doesn’t mean there is no news however.

A tiny jack russell cross was brought in today; or rather he was shown to us before leaving again with the couple who found him. He is tattooed but it is so faded as to be illegible. Maybe the vet will have better luck tomorrow. In the meantime the dog is safe and is being looked after. If you recognise him, please contact the SPA who will put you in touch with his temporary owners!

And who remembers Coraline, the little old jagd terrier cross dog who spent a couple of weeks in foster with Lorena before going to Twilight, the doggy retirement home? Twilight is usually a dog’s last home, where they receive end of life care and love thanks to two very special people and great friends of the SPA, Leeanne and Mike.

Sometimes however a miracle happens, and a dog is adopted from Twilight and given a home of his or her own. Leeanne and Mike have loads of love to give, and their dogs are very happy, but of course if a dog leaves it makes room for another. Usually a dog leaving Twilight involves tears, as it is usually a trip over the Rainbow Bridge. This time it was tears of joy, as Coraline left for her new life! Here she is looking very pleased with herself. And who can blame her!

And we already have news of Rizzla, who has been renamed Oscar and is looking very pleased with himself in this photo with his new jack russell pal, Jack.

We also received a message to say that Paterson and his owner have just completed their “certificate of aptitude” for good dog manners. That is after 2 months of classes. Many congratulations to them, and thanks for seeing the potential in this young, rather bouncy dog, who has now clearly become a beloved family member.

Smiles all round!

Little dog lost 
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Happy Coraline – ADOPTED from Twilight

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Oscar (ex Rizzla) happy at his new home












And Paterson’s mum gets a good  owner award!


Three adoptions and a lovely day in the sun!

Today we had three adoptions!

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

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

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

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

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


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


Desdemona enjoying an ear scratch with her pal Othello

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Rizzla – ADOPTED












Beauty – ADOPTED







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

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Cai and Gill’s beautiful garden in Caunes Minervois

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That Friday factor yet again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catherine- ADOPTED












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











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Faustino- ADOPTED












New arrival- Romeo. He is 14












And Carpet, who was found on the Ring Road


A word on our oldies and identification in action, again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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








And a publicity boost for Taser!

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Candy’s adoption is finalised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lisbon- Back in the dog house











Candy – ADOPTED (again)








A new arrival- we are looking for her owner.

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