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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

Five adoptions!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I was a bit mean last night and left you all on the edge of your seats regarding today’s BIG adoption. So without further ado, the lucky boy was KAWA! He has been with us for 17 months, and has seen several of his kennel mates find new homes. His current (or rather now “ex”) kennel mate was Axel, who arrived as a very bouncy overgrown and ill-mannered puppy, and although it is not something that every dog is capable of, Kawa has been patient and tolerant with him, put him in his place when required and generally made Axel a much nicer dog.

But today was Kawa’s turn, and we wish him well.

He was not the only dog to leave today. We had no fewer than five adoptions in total. Yes, five. It has been a while since I have been able to say that.

Thanks to Doglinks, Blanca found a fabulous home. A couple of dog lovers saw an appeal for this deaf little girl and drove all the way from Rheims to collect her. It was love love love and the huge round trip was worthwhile.

Lovely Georgette, who was abandoned a few weeks ago was adopted by a family who have had their eye on her ever since she arrived. They met her for the first time today, and the adoption was mutual. Happy smiles all round.

Furio found a home, leaving both his sponsor, Audrey in tears, as well as Bond, who is alone yet again.

Then the little puppy, Elena, whose brother Stefan left yesterday found a home of her own. So she didn’t have long to wait after all.

As ever it was not all fun and games. Two new dogs arrived, a lovely beauceron called Pit who is identified, but whose owners are untraceable so far. And just before we closed a Brittany spaniel was brought in, supposedly having been found at the station. How many hunt dogs are found in the centre of town? In any case, this five year old boy has been named Bonnet Red in honour of his Breton roots and believe me he is far better off with us than he was before.

So a good day and another one to come, I promise!

Kawa -ADOPTED after 17 months







Blanca – ADOPTED (pardon?)

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Georgette – ADOPTED













Furio – ADOPTED (here he is with Audrey, his sponsor)

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New arrival – Pit

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New arrival – Bonnet Red

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Some good news and more to come!

Yesterday’s arrival, Circa, was reunited with her owner today. As soon as her pictures were posted on Facebook, the owner contacted us, saying he had been looking for his dog everywhere. And he arrived at the refuge in double quick time to collect his beloved dog.

When Circa was brought in (by the authorities of the village) we were told that she had been wandering for days.

Local elections are taking place in April and apparently the rounding up of stray dogs is seen as a vote winner. Thus proving that you don’t have to live in a dictatorship or in a city preparing for the Olympics to see examples of how dogs are used for political reasons. Okay, in Carcassonne it is not a question of massacring dogs, although for some SPAs that are overcrowded, it could certainly lead to the death of some animals.

But we are not hear to debate the rights and wrongs of local (or indeed national) politics, rather we are here to tell you the news:

Today saw the adoption of little Stefan. He leaves behind his sister, Elena, who is the last of the Vampire Diaries litter. I hope her chance comes soon; I hate seeing puppies alone in their cages. However now that she has had her second vaccination she can go and play with the other dogs!

There has been so much bad news recently that when Carole told me about a reservation made today, I actually cried. This is not at all my style, it is more a habit of Dominique’s, but I am feeling particularly sensitive at the moment, so I “did a Domi”. Do you want to know who the lucky dog is? I BET you do!

Tell you tomorrow!!!

Stefan – ADOPTED

One in, one out.

Hmmm. Trying to think of good things to say and not coming up with very much.

Zia’s owner came to collect her, which was great, but it was expected to the extent that we hadn’t even bothered making her an album on Facebook. Another dog did arrive, and although she is identified, apparently she has been wandering alone for several days. She was born in 2007, so is not a youngster, but I hope she has not been deliberately abandoned.

We had a new volunteer today and she soon got into the swing of things and she and Moira walked , several dogs. But the nicest thing that happened to me today was taking Mojo out for his first walk. We do not walk dogs out until they have their two vaccinations, and so today was Mojo’s first walk in three whole weeks. I liked the look of him when he arrived (supposedly “found” by a couple of kids, but he was clearly their dog), and today’s walk confirmed to me what a great dog he is.

My other “best bit” was chatting to a young couple who came to donate a kennel and some other items. The woman’s face was familiar, and it turned  out that she is the adopter of Parky, who hardly any of you will remember. He had been at the refuge for over 2 years when he was adopted and he is about to have his fifth birthday. He is immaculately behaved and they love him to bits. They didn’t bring him along, as their vehicle was full of kennel, but have promised to come back to show him off. I wonder if he will remember us?

These little things help to motivate when times are tough, as they are now…..

Circa- New arrival







And Mojo’s first walk


Wimzy leaves and there are no arrivals

Thanks to Facebook, one of yesterday’s arrivals found her owner. The puppy we named Carmen and guessed to be a griffon cross was in fact a briard/ lab cross called Wimzy and had been missing for ten days. I would have liked to ask her owner why she had not contacted the SPA to let us know her dog was missing, but today was not one of my SPA days, so we will never know. However, at least Wimzy is now identified.

So one bit of good news at least!

No dogs arrived, which was a relief, after recent days. The employees did some mixing of dogs, giving those who have been left alone after the adoption of their kennel mate the chance to make a new pal. Also sometimes when dogs arrive we are not sure how friendly he or she is, and we like to give them time to settle in for a bit before seeing if they are happy to share their space. Of course the whole male/ female ratio plays a role here; some males will share their space with a female but not another male. However as I have been getting the information ready a site update, I have noticed the huge disparity between the number of male and female dogs at the SPA. Eighty eight males versus twenty three females!  I wonder why this is the case!

Things regarding Jim’s animals seem to be becoming a bit clearer. It appears that the dogs are being looked after by a new refuge in Tours, which seems to have a good reputation. The four Dobermans have been taken under the wing of the French Association “Doberman en Detresse”, for whom Jim fostered for many years.

The situation regarding the cats is less clear; our seven will come back to us, of course, although the logistics for this have still not been finalised. The goal remains to save every single animal if possible.

So not much to report but we are all busy little bees behind the scenes, believe me!


Still waiting for some good news.

There is an old saying which goes “If you have nothing good to say, then say nothing at all” Such is my dilemma this evening. There really is nothing good to say about today at the SPA.

Four new dogs arrived. One will leave soon, as her owner had already called us to tell us she was missing before she was brought in by the police, and she is identified. But the other three are unidentified. The only good thing to say here is that they are all very attractive dogs, and so we are hoping they catch someone’s eye.

A recent visit by the Police Municipal resulted in the language on the micro-chip reader accidentally being changed to Spanish. No one can work out how to change it back, so instead, so in honour of this, the two dogs who arrived together have been given Spanish names. Rodrigo and Gabriella have been wandering round the streets of Berriac for a couple of months now. They have been fed by the locals so are not in bad condition at all, and are very approachable and sociable.

The third is just a pup, a female griffon type, who may well appeal to some of you hairy dog lovers out there. A Spanish name for her, too! Carmen.

So really there was nothing to celebrate today. Several volunteers came along and there was lots of walking done. And I know what the highlight of Disco’s day was: He slipped his collar and made a dash for freedom! He had a lovely run before being caught, and then he had his walk anyway. Hope this doesn’t give him ideas!

The highlight of my day was going to dog training school and seeing Freddy. He is still not wild about other dogs, but just hearing that this dog was already housetrained after 16 months at the refuge made me smile!

Maybe tomorrow will be better, we can but hope.

New arrival  – Rodrigo






New arrival – Gabriella












New arrival – Carmen












And old – timer Disco. Happy after a walk AND a run. But a home would be better still!


Identification issues (again) and MORE bad news

A puppy made a brief appearance at the refuge today, but the fact that he arrived complete with collar and lead gave us a pretty good clue that he had an owner, and that chances were he had just escaped on a walk. However (sigh) he was not identified. His owner did come to collect him, but as ever the excuses as to WHY he was not identified were feeble.

People quite often post pictures of their dogs onto our Facebook page and ask for our help in finding them. We are happy to help; that is what we are there for. However, when the dogs are not identified, I always secretly hope that they will pass through our hands, just so we know that they will be micro-chipped (obligatory before pets can be reclaimed). If dogs are found without coming to the SPA, who knows whether or not they will ever be identified? Despite the fact that this is THE LAW.  When an animal is found without coming to the SPA, we have no control over whether identification takes place. If we are told the good news on Facebook (that the dog has been found), we often request that they now get their animal micro-chipped and the answer is invariably “I am planning on having it done”. But who knows?

Anyway, today’s pup, Kay IS now identified.

The other arrival was that of a magnificent border collie, who has been named Ako. He is not good with male dogs, but perhaps his owner is looking for him. He is not identified, of course…..

We received some sad news this morning, that of the death of lovely Alfie, the fabulous gentle Neapolitan Mastiff. He was never part of the SPA “family”, but he paid us a visit during one of our Christmas open days. At that time he was in need of a new home and was kindly being looked after by friends of the refuge, after his real owners decided to kill him rather than take him back to the UK. Thanks to Doglinks, Alfie found a home with a loving couple, Linda and Richard, and although they only had him for six weeks, he probably had more love in that time than in the rest of his life put together. Alfie was ten years old, which is an enormous age for a dog of this size. But love and good care often arrive too late to compensate for years of neglect. Sometimes I am ashamed of my fellow countrymen, but also proud, as all those involved in his rescue were also countrymen (and women) of mine! I have to add that lots of French people offered Alfie a home too, it was just easier logistically for him to go to Linda and Richard.

Information as to the whereabouts of Jim’s dogs and cats is gradually emerging, by the way. Everyone is safe right now and we are urging the mayor of the village to keep us informed and not do anything irreversible! We are all watching!

Kay- RECLAIMED (and now micro-chipped)











New arrival Ako- Not identified












And Alfie goes over the Rainbow Bridge


Freedom for Freddy!

Some good news at last! Today, after being in foster care with Isabelle, one of our volunteers, for 5 weeks, Leia was adopted. This in itself is great news, but even better, she is going to live with friends of Isabelle’s family, so they will have lots of news and will see each other regularly.

Fostering pups (or kittens or even adult dogs or cats) is no easy business. I for one cannot do it, as proved by the “accidental” arrival of dog number four in my house. But for people who are robust enough emotionally, it is a fabulous way to help the refuge, especially for vulnerable animals (those who do not yet have their two vaccinations, or are frail or elderly). One downside of course is that although the dog is safe and warm, he is not “on show” to people who come to the refuge on spec (although of course “viewings” can be made by appointment, including at the fosterers or potential adopters home, which can be useful for people with busy lives or who don’t want to visit the refuge)

In any case, Leia has a new home and many thanks to Isabelle and her family for looking after her.

But the big, nay HUGE news of the day was the adoption of Freddy. He has been at the refuge since October 2012, and has been very popular with volunteers and employees alike. Dog walkers have loved him, as he does not pull on the lead, so is a pleasure to take out. The couple who adopted him today came looking for a small, calm dog, and whereas Freddy isn’t quite as small as they (or the woman, at least) was hoping for, Freddy ticked the calm box very nicely. Now all he has to do is learn to get used to other dogs (they don’t have any, but it is much nicer to have a dog who is happy to see other dogs when out on walks). Dog Training school will help here, and I am looking forward to seeing Freddy and his new owners there on Tuesday night.

In other refuge new a dog who was signalled as being lost via our Facebook page was brought in, and thanks to this we were able to contact her owners, as the details were not up to date in Paris. Thanks Facebook!

We are still working on Jim’s animals, don’t worry, they haven’t been forgotten. But we have no more news as of now, as the people we need to speak to are busy enjoying their weekend. As I hope are all of you!










Freddy – ADOPTED after 16 months

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Kenpeh leaves, but five new dogs arrive. None identified, of course.

On Wednesday when I went to say farewell to Vienna, another lady was at the refuge, and by coincidence she knew Vienna’s new owners. She had just lost her dog and said life was just unbearable, so she wanted another canine companion. She did a tour of the refuge but as luck would have it, the two dogs she liked (Galileo and Kiko) are both due to go to the UK in a week or so.

However from her choices I gleaned something important. She likes her dogs hairy! Not everybody does, as they think of the dusting (whatever that is!). She also said that Kiko was a bit small for her taste. So…..

Who remembers Kenpeh, who was abandoned just before Christmas, when his owner went on holiday to Martinique and didn’t want to pay for kennelling? Kenpeh arrived as a nervous dog, wary of people and apparently accustomed to being hit. At least he flinched each time he saw a raised hand. He quickly got over this, once he realised that no one at the SPA would ever hurt him. And sure enough, Kenpeh ticked all the right boxes, including being good with cats.

Today he left for his new home. Much better for him than where he was before.

Other than that the news was almost all bad, with five new dogs arriving. Andy, the poodle who arrived in such a terrible state last night found his owners, but he won’t leave till tomorrow so we can have a chat to them about his condition. Or maybe they just wanted a free grooming.

We are all working furiously to try and sort out Jim’s animals, and the situation is clear as mud. So many different authorities are involved that it is hard to get a true picture of what is going on. We remain determined and resolute that homes will be found, as long as we are allowed to act.

Like many other people who are working on this issue, I am exhausted, so I will sign off now and wish you all a Happy Valentines Day from everyone at the SPA.

Maybe tomorrow will bring better news. I keep saying that, don’t I? The good days just never seem to come.

Kenpeh – ADOPTED (and happy that his owner went to Martinique)









Happy Valentines Day from us all!


Dyson leaves, but the mood stays bleak.

Before the refuge had even opened this morning we had had an adoption! As you know, we open at 2pm, but at 8am Dyson, our magnificent Border collie/ Pyrenean Mountain Dog cross left for his new home just outside Geneva. This beautiful boy had been abandoned in mid-January, very much to his owner’s regret. And I am not surprised. Good with other dogs, fine with cats, fine with children. The perfect dog. But BIG!

So when our sister site, Doglinks, sent us details of a lady who was interested in Galileo (the Briard cross who is leaving for the UK in a couple of weeks), we suggested alternatives of a similar size and hairiness. Dyson ticked all the boxes and this morning he started the journey to his new life.

We had our first arrival also before the refuge opened, too. A puppy, arrived, but Carole was on hand to put photos on Facebook, and Tina’s owner came to collect her at 14H00. A quick trip to the vet for micro-chipping was required, of course, so that is one more dog who is now “legal”. I have to ask yet again why it takes a trip to the SPA for people to get their dog micro-chipped? And you can bet your bottom dollar that many of these dogs would never be identified had they not passed via our door. IT IS THE LAW!

And just before we shut a small male poodle arrived, in a terrible state. He has been spruced up (see the before and after pictures below) and I am sure he will appeal to someone out there!

Bad news just piles up right now. This site is dedicated to dogs, but this morning we lost Max, a cat who was much loved and has been fighting typhus for several days. The employees have been working incredibly hard to save his life and also to stop the illness spreading. They succeeded in the latter, but sadly Max succumbed this morning, accompanied by many tears. Bye-bye, Champion!

Two dogs left today, so why am I feeling so low? The aftermath of Jim’s death has affected many of us, and the revelation that he was buried in an unmarked grave this morning is just shocking. I am sure that the spirits of all the dogs and cats were present, even if none of his friends had been told.

His dogs and cats are in desperate need of rehoming or they risk being put to sleep. Please consider helping out any way you can, even if it is just by spreading the word.










Tina – RECLAIMED (and now micro-chipped)











Andy arrives like this









But turns out to look like this: (good work, guys!)













And tearful farewells to Max, the champion


One out, one in and some bad news.

I have spent much of the day on the phone talking to friends old and new, including many people who up to now have been known to me only by name. We are all uniting in trying to help in the aftermath of a very sad event.

Yesterday an English gentleman called Jim passed away. He was only 71, and had devoted his entire life to animal rescue. He was particularly fond of Dobermans and has rescued over a hundred during his lifetime. In addition Jim adored cats, and it was he who recently adopted seven cats from the SPA who were never going to be homed from the refuge as they were too nervous of people or had just been overlooked for years.

Jim’s death has left 10 dogs and many more cats homeless. We of course are busy planning how we can return our cats to the refuge, and I am desperately sorry for all of them. When I last spoke to Jim, less than a week ago, he had Socks, the feisty Siamese, on his lap and the other timid cats were just starting to come out of their shells.

This is nothing but a tragedy. Thanks to everyone for pulling together. Let’s try and honour Jim’s memory by making sure all his beloved animals end up safe. Our thoughts are also with his wife, who has lost her carer. Sylvia has advanced Alzheimer’s, and is now permanently hospitalised.

It is easy to criticise; what was an elderly gentleman with a sick wife doing with all those animals? But Jim had a heart as big as the moon. He had spent his whole life rescuing dogs and cats and it is a hard habit to break, as many of us know. I am sure St Peter had no trouble letting him through the Pearly Gates.

On a MUCH happier note, one of my favourite dogs found a home today. I know I have lots of favourites, but so would you if you knew our dogs! In any case, today it was the turn of lovely Vienna. She was brought in with her sister, Farrah, just after Christmas. Farrah, being lighter in colour, was adopted very quickly, but Vienna, has had a bit longer to wait. She had a final walk with her beloved pal Chips today and off she went to her new life.

A small female was brought in having been found in the village of Pezens. We have named her Pixie. If no one comes to reclaim her she will be up for adoption in ten days. I have a feeling she will leave us quickly!

Vienna says a final goodbye to Chips before heading off!









Pixie arrives