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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

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!




Feeling jubilant!

I am feeling incredibly tired tonight, but extremely satisfied and more than a little bit emotional about all the things that have been going on this weekend.

We have just completed our most successful open weekend for some considerable time. The skies were blue, the refuge was packed with people walking dogs, delivering presents and blankets, standing around in the sunshine enjoying a glass or two of mulled wine and better still, adopting or reserving dogs and cats!

At the same time we had volunteers at Jardiland and at the Christmas market in Cavanac. A huge team working in harmony all towards the same goal; to improve things for our protégés at the SPA. I cannot count the number of people who paid us compliments on the organisation and the dedication of the staff and volunteers. It was like a well-oiled machine, with people helping out where they were needed. I was incredibly proud of everyone.

What a marvellous atmosphere. Christmas cheer abounded it was not only money that was raised. Our morale took a huge boost too. I suspect I am not the only volunteer who has a huge smile on their face tonight.

So, I know you are desperate to know; who left?

Well, first to go was lovely Amadeus. I am surprised he stayed as long as he did. He is going to be a very happy dog and we will have lots of news, as he has gone to the family of one of our volunteers, Isabelle. The only other actual departure was that of lovely Yoga, but we had no fewer than four further reservations. Usually I do not list these, so as not to tempt fate. However one of them I just need to tell you about, as in many ways it illustrates so well what we have been busy doing recently.

Last weekend at la Cite we had the folder with photos of all the dogs at the refuge. A family showed a lot of interest in one of our dogs, Keops, who has been at the refuge since December 26th 2011. They promised to come and see him at the open weekend, and true to their word, they came along today. The attraction between the dog and the family was immediate and instant, and after a walk together, Keops is now officially reserved.

Had we not been at la Cite, this family may never have come to the refuge. Equally, several people at the market in Cavanac today are now aware of the wonderful dogs that we have at the SPA. It is a case of spreading the word and for this you need exactly what we have; willing hands who love animals and share a common purpose.

Ten dogs and four cats have left as the result of the open weekend alone, and the funds raised mean that, amongst other things, more kennels are on the way.

Thank you to everyone who supported us in so many ways; but especially to the wonderful SPA team. And that is what we are, a team. No better illustration exists than what we have achieved together these past weeks.

I am going to sign off, I think I have some dust in my eye!

Amadeus leaves







Team Puivert with their hands in the cookie jar!







People just enjoying the day and each others’ (and the dogs’) company


Animals have Christmas too!

As you know, today was day one of the Christmas for Animals and despite a dull start to the day weather wise, by 14H20 we had already had our first adoption and a huge number of donations!

The day continued in the same vein pretty much till closing time. We had visits from lots of our ex-“inmates” which was fabulous. The doggy-treat stall was a huge hit and the Christmas tree is looking pretty full, with loads more baubles decorating its branches.

There are several people and groups I would like to thank. As ever I am scared to forget someone, but I simply must mention the Country Dance group from the MJC, who came with two carloads of food, and also Trebes Dog Sport Club, who were also incredibly generous. Sadly I do not have a photo of them, as they insisted that I go in front of the lens, but if I get hold of one I will add it later on, as they deserve more than just a brief mention in dispatches!

There was also a collection of dog food at Jardiland, and again the volunteers were present, showing off our dogs and promoting the SPA. I passed by on the way back from the refuge and the trolleys had filled up nicely!

I bet you are desperate to know who the lucky dogs were….Well, I wouldn’t say that there are too many to mention, but there were quite a few. Three left yesterday, to be fair, but the list of the lucky dogs is as follows:

Indy, Chuppa, Lili, Plume,Chups, and Springbock! Yes, six more dogs are in the warm, and there were a couple of reservations, too! We are delighted, and we are hoping for more good news tomorrow.

Thank you to everyone who came along to support us. If you came to the refuge today and want to do something different tomorrow, why not go to the Christmas market at Cavanac, where you will find yet more volunteers and more ways to support the SPA.

The Group  Country Dance from the MJC







Baby Christmas








And getting ready to open at Jardiland


No Puppies for Polka, thank you!

Hardly a single visitor at the refuge today yet again. I wonder if everyone is planning on coming at the weekend for the open days! The news that the Narbonne refuge is closed until further notice “for health and hygiene reasons” is clearly terrible for them, and they have our sympathy, but please don’t think that we have a similar problem. We are up and running and looking forward to lots of adoptions this weekend!

One dog was reclaimed by his owner, a Rottweiler whose owner did not have the correct paperwork. That has been rectified now, but here is a hint; if you do not have the right paperwork for you categorised dogs (ie rotties or staffies), do try not to draw attention to yourself by walking them without muzzles etc. You are just asking for trouble, especially as with elections looming, the police (in Carcassonne at least) have been told to check up on such things.

Two chasse dogs arrived; they are not identified, so whether or not they are claimed probably depends on how good they are at the hunt. We shall see. Finally we had the return of Polka, a tiny fox terrier, who was adopted as a puppy. Her sister, Salsa, was homed thanks to Doglinks, but Polka had no such luck. Her owner gave her away so that she could be used to reproduce, and we had to wade in. But wade in we did; all our females leave sterilised and female puppies have to be sterilised at the age of 6 months. We are firmly against reproduction, as are most people who work or volunteer in refuges. There are already too many dogs out there!

Finally we had news of Calvin. He is doing amazingly well, by all accounts. For a dog who spent two years at the refuge he has settled incredibly quickly. He wakes up the little girl with kisses, sleeps in his basket outside her door and has made friends with all the neighbours and their dogs. It is like his life was just on hold for two years, and he has just got back into the routine he had before. On the one hand, what a waste of two years, but on the other hand, how lovely that this family were willing to give him this second chance.

Benedicte was going to see Calvin today and take her camera, but so far she has not sent me any pictures. If she does so later on I will edit this post, so pop back later to see this lovely boy in his new home!

Polka is back, but before she became a puppy factory!








And better late than never CALVIN!