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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

Friends stay united!

Something wonderful happened today. I am not referring to the arrival of another fridge (thank you Laura, one of our Facebook followers). This means we can keep medicines cool in both the cat house and the infirmary, which will make life much easier for the employees. Nor am I referring to the wonderful pampering given to one of our scruffiest dogs, Pollux, following a request by his sponsor and an appeal via Twitter and Facebook (thanks to both Nath for the suggestion and Sandra, for the execution.)

I am not even referring to the adoption of little Salsa, whose sister Polka left yesterday. I am referring to the adoption of two dogs, both of whom had been previously adopted from the SPA and both abandoned afterwards.

One of them, Hector, spent 4 months in a family before he became ill, showing signs of epilepsy. The couple didn’t bother to take him to the vet, they just decided that they didn’t want a sick dog, so they tied him up outside. It turned out that Hector had an enlarged prostate, so one castration later and he was back on form. Not epilepsy then! However he had no idea what he was doing back at the refuge, so just lay miserably in his kennel.

Nero was adopted when he was a year old, and he was one of my favourite dogs, as I have a black labrador also called Nero. A year later the family moved house and accidentally forgot to take their dog. Oops. One day we decided to put these two dogs in together, and this completely changed Hector, who simply bloomed. The two dogs became best buddies, and were often seen playing in the parks or in their box.

The couple who adopted both dogs today really came for Hector, whom they had seen on the website. But they knew they wanted a second dog, and decided not to split up the partnership. Both dogs were ready to leave (chipped, and castrated even), so off they went! I shed a tear or two, I have to admit.

Two dogs were brought in, one of whom will probably be reclaimed by his owner. The other one will be snapped up in a trice. And I promised to show you photos of Black Jack, the puppy who arrived yesterday. We now know that he is 3 months old, so if you are looking for a baby Nero, you are in luck!

Pollux gets a “do”

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Salsa leaves

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So do Hector and Nero; together!

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Here is little Gadget, who arrived today
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And here is Blackjack, yesterday’s arrival, who sadly will probably stay a lot longer than Gadget

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Just another manic Monday!

Oh hail the power of the internet! Yesterday’s Twitter appeal for a new fridge resulted in three offers within about 5 minutes! The first one was close to Carcassonne and a friend of the refuge immediately offered to bring it up to us. We need a fridge to keep medicines cold and also preserve half open tins of dog and cat food. We were short of this, too, and after another Twitter appeal, we received several Paypal donations (thanks to you all!) and several people brought tins to the refuge directly.

Another supporter brought us items for our upcoming vide greniers, which are a source of much needed income for the refuge. This seems to have become the preserve of a dedicated team of Brits. If you would like to join in, just let me know! And remember, if you are selling on behalf of an association, as opposed to as an individual, there is no limit as to at how many vide greniers you can have a stall. Or you have items that you wish to donate, please either bring them along to the refuge any afternoon, or contact us via email: website@dogrescuecarcassonne.co.uk

But this was not the only good news at the refuge today. Five dogs left for new homes. First to leave was was Polka, a little fox terrier pup, who has just finished her pound time. Her twin Salsa is still there, so if you like the look of Polka, get your skates on! Then there was Donuts, a little shih-tzu. He had been found over a month ago by a couple who initially wanted to keep him, so did not inform the SPA about him. They then changed his mind, but of course his real owners may well have given up hope by this time. Naturally Donuts did not stay long (we kept him for the legal 10 days to be sure) and today he went off to his new life. I can’t help feeling sad that someone somewhere is missing him, but he was not identified, and our internet appeals for his owners have failed.

Next we said goodbye to Galice, which I was very happy about. She had been reserved over a week ago, but the family never came to collect her, despite our numerous phone calls. Was this because they had a change of heart? Perhaps, but the least they could have done was let us know. In any case, she had already been sterilised and was ready to leave, so leave she did. And the SPA is 85 euros richer, as we demand a deposit to reserve a dog.  And we do not return it to people who can’t even be bothered to let us know they are not coming to collect!

We then said goodbye to Scarlett, one of the small to medium dogs that risks staying at the refuge for a long time, as she looks like many of our other dogs. Bit of beagle, bit of something else. She was lucky enough to catch someone’s eye and her new life begins!

The last adoption is the cause of much rejoicing. Hoffen left us. From a bag of bones to a magnificent beast in just 6 weeks, this boy’s tale has touched many of you. Best of all, his new owners are great supporters of the SPA and their café La Galloise in Alaigne  has a collection box for the refuge. This café hosted the Brit fundraising group a couple of months ago and I can recommend  a visit. Great food, great live music and now a great big dog!

In addition to this 3 dogs came and went (all identified) and there were a couple of reservations. Only one arrival, that of a little puppy, and I will show you pictures of  him tomorrow.

It was a very busy day, but so rewarding!

Thank you Sophie and Joelle

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Polka waltzes off (?)

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Bye-bye Donuts

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Galice leaves after one false alarm (Grrr!)

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Scarlett finds a home as well

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And then it was an emotional farewell to a smiley Hoffen.

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Sangria time!

Well Sangria’s time at the refuge didn’t last very long; she was adopted today by a super family who had read about her yesterday. They arrived at 14H00, determined to not be pipped at the post, and even had anyone else been there, this family would still have won my vote. They have another dog to show Sangria the ropes, the mother is at home all day, and their sixteen year old daughter has grown up with dogs.

As promised I warned them about Sangria’s man-eating tendencies, but at this stage she was busy licking the face of a four year old boy who was visiting the refuge, so I am not sure how seriously they took me. But they are experienced dog owners and I have no doubt that they will educate this puppy and solve any problems she may have. It is super news for Sangria, and closes a chapter in her life, and a lot of ultimately useless debate on Facebook.

Other than that a couple of dogs were reclaimed, thanks to being identified, and lots of dogs were walked. There were two new arrivals, one lovely girl found in a nearby village, and another “pre-booked” abandonment of a fabulous dog that looks like a wire-haired beagle. Beagles steal my heart every time, and this boy is no exception. He has been renamed Biggles, which suits him much better than his old name (Pippo). He is really laid back and on Monday we are going to find him a dog to share his kennel with. For now we are letting him get used to the smells of the refuge.

Oh, and we were visited by Castro, who used to be known as Ray, a blind Bleu de Gascogne. He was completely unfazed at being back at the refuge and went round making friends with everyone!

So only one adoption, but an excellent one.

Spirits are high!

Hello and goodbye to Sangria

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And a visit from Castro

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Introducing Bali

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And Biggles

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Free Dog Friday (or Three Dog Thriday?)

A day of mixed news. It started with the return of Sangria, who is 4 and a half months old and was adopted just six weeks ago. She is a puppy and as such some “misbehaviour” is only to be expected. But children and puppies is not always a good mix, and if left unsupervised things can go wrong. Without wishing to apportion blame, I have to say that play-biting is typical puppy behaviour and if left unchecked, can get out of hand.

My best advice to anyone who has young children and who is not willing to put in the work required to educate a young puppy, (and no, two lessons in 6 weeks is not really enough effort), is to get a cuddly toy. They are far less work, don’t wee in the house and require no training or exercise; what’s more, you can leave them unsupervised with your children, which you should never do with a puppy.

So Sangria is looking for a home. Ironically she is the sister of Schweppes, the adoption of whom was a cause of much celebration just 4 days ago. Sometimes it is better for a puppy to stay longer in the refuge than be homed with the wrong family. We are a responsible organisation so will mention her “history”, but I suspect this will not prevent her being rehomed.  Even with children. A misjudged play bite does not mean a dog is dangerous. And just for information, the fact that you were bought up with dogs does not mean that your children are automatically good with them!  Children need to be taught to respect animals. One of the best lessons they can ever learn, in my opinion.

However it was not all bad news. We had three adoptions! First was Betty the puppy who was being looked after by Lisa and Andrew, one of our foster families. She is going to have a wonderful life, as her new mummy is a friend of OUR good friend at Doglinks. Lisa took another puppy home, one who had just arrived. Talk about good timing! Lucky pup!

Also today two border collies found homes. One of them, Remy, had only just arrived (he did his 10 days pound time and off he went!), but the other one, Blaise, had been with us for 8 months. He had been thrown out of a moving car near to the refuge and it has taken him quite some time to find a new home. But I think it was worth the wait. His new mum came all the way from Switzerland to make sure he got on with her own dog (an elderly female Rottweiler).

So it wasn’t another four dog Friday, but still not too bad.

Unlucky Sangria is back

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But Blaise left (with a girlfriend, no less!)

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As did Betty, here happily playing in her new home

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And Remy found a new home as well!

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Venusio’s long wait is finally over!

The refuge was closed today as it was a Bank Holiday in France. Of course the employees were present in the morning to clean the boxes and feed the dogs and cats, as well as give various medicines to those dogs that are currently undergoing treatment.

So no refuge news, however HUGE news from elsewhere!

The last of the dogs that were sent to Animal Trust in Belgium has just been adopted. Venusio spent 18 months with us, where he was lonely and miserable. Although initially happy to share his kennel, Venusio gradually became more and more intolerant of other dogs, and ended up in a box alone, where despite regular walks, he started to pine and get depressed.

When Eline of Animal Trust offered a lifeline to some of our dogs, her first choice was Venusio. A dog who is nothing special in France is viewed completely differently in Belgium, which has different breeds. As a  griffon Nivernais of seven years, Venusio’s chances of being adopted from Carcassonne were decreasing all the time. So, thanks to Sarah, in April he made the long trip to Melle.

I popped into Animal Trust with Sarah in early July this year, and all five dogs were still there. I spent time with each of them, and the transformation in Venusio was amazing. He was playing in the park with another ex-Carcassonne dog, Carbon, and gone was all the aggression of his time with us. Eline had realised that it was just his prolonged confinement that had made him grumpy, and that with regular exercise off the lead, he would be fine. When I saw him he was busy persuading Carbon to give up his ball mostly by howling as loudly as possible in Carbon’s ear. It was hilarious and extremely good natured. Not many dogs could hold out for long when faced with the baying of a hunt dog right into their ear, and Carbon gave the ball up every time, just to get away from the noise! At this point Venusio would parade round the park proudly carrying the ball only to have it stolen by Carbon and the whole thing would start again!

Since my visit, the dogs have left, one by one. In fact Carbon was adopted just two days after I saw him. Pepere was next and then Jojo and Murphy on the same day. So it was just Venusio left. When would his turn finally come? Well, the answer was TODAY!

I am over the moon. Once again I must thank Eline, Sarah, Amber, Nancy, Kevin and all the other amazing people at Animal Trust. We are so happy that you are there and that your commitment to help animals has benefited our dogs as well as all the needy souls you look after in Belgium.

Oh, happy day!

Lovely Venusio, happy after so long!
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And here is a picture of all five Carcassonne dogs soon after their arrival at Animal Trust. They are chasing round the park, led by two other residents of this fabulous refuge. First taste of freedom!

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Any colour as long as it’s black!

Another hot day at the refuge and not much to report. A couple of dogs had people to visit them, but nothing sure, and no departures, sadly. However I admire people who come and visit a dog and then go home to reflect. Taking a dog is a huge commitment and should be for the lifetime of the dog, so it is as well to be certain before taking the plunge!

One dog arrived, a beautiful retriever. He is 4 years old and micro-chipped. His owners’ answerphone say that they will not be returning from holiday until August 18th. One wonders who is meant to be looking after their lovely dog Elios. Perhaps they left him with friends, if so they can collect him from us, providing they have proof that they are acting in loco parentis, as it were. And if they pay us enough, we won’t even tell the owner that they lost the dog (only kidding!). Interestingly according to his identification papers in Paris, he is a black golden retriever, which seems like a contradiction in terms, so I am calling him a flatcoat! As Henry Ford may or may not have said, “Any colour as long as it is black!”. If the dog is not claimed by August 24th, he will be up for adoption. And I know lots of you love both golden retrievers and flatcoats, so you can take your pick as to what breed you call this beautiful boy!

As the hot weather continues, it is nice to see our recent appeal bearing fruit. Here is the cathouse complete with some recently arrived bamboo fencing making a lovely shaded area. The SPA is very lucky to have a salaried part time Mr Fixit, however he is always open to offers of help, so if you have any DIY skills that you would like to offer, you would be welcome to come along and lend a hand. A couple of British volunteers already do so, and both seem to enjoy it (or at least they both keep coming back!)

Oh, some of you may be wondering how Isa got on in her Trophy of the Mountains. Well, I am pleased to report that she did in fact finish in the top ten female veterans. The photo below was taken at the finish line. At this point Isa was too scared to take  her socks off, as she wasn’t sure what was going on underneath. Turns out it was nothing major, and Isa was relieved to have finished this gruelling trial intact. Running day and night, on some occasions,  for nine days, injuries could have been far worse than mangled toes. Still sooner her than me!  Congratulations once again to Isa and her little warrior, Canelle.

Shady cats
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Isa’s feet. OUCH!
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And a black golden retriever. No comment!
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Yesterday’s adoption and today’s arrivals, including a puppy in a box!

Some of you may remember the puppy Loubar, who was adopted a week or so ago by Sophie, a friend of one of our volunteers. Well so in love has she fallen with Loubar, that she decided to come and adopt his brother, Sumo.  Only problem was that Sumo was adopted on Saturday.  His departure left one poor little pup, Schweppes, alone in his cage, as his other pal, Clyde, had also left.

So what was Sophie’s solution? To adopt Schweppes, of course! Yesterday this puppy, who had been overlooked for so long (his sister, Sangria had been adopted over a month ago) took the train up to Versaille with his new mum, and now he is playing happily with Loubar!

I am over the moon for him. He was suffering a bit from long-eared syndrome, but why be put off a dog who has never hunted in his life? A puppy (in fact a dog of any age) can be educated, and whereas some instincts are innate, dogs should not be written off and categorised just due to the length of their ears!

Loubar and his new pal Schweppes taking a time out!
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The SPA still has puppies, don’t worry. It is just that until they have had their two vaccinations, we keep the litters separate to minimise risk of disease. We have pups in both the infirmary and the cat house, as well as two in foster, one of whom arrived today (see below)

We have received some lovely photos of Polly, who made it to her final destination on Saturday morning and is proving to be a delight. She has decided that she wants company all the time, so moves her blanket from her basket to wherever her mistress is sitting at the time. After a year in the SPA, Polly has decided to never be alone again! Wouldn’t you love this kind of devotion from a dog? Well, that is what rescue dogs are like! So grateful and full of love.

Devoted Polly on a walk. Free at last.
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At the refuge today, three dogs were brought in, and none at were adopted. With Thursday being a bank holiday, I suppose this should be no surprise. One of them, a puppy found on the motorway, was lucky enough to go home with a foster family. The other two have joined an ever-more crowded SPA.

And our new arrival!
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Go Team Freedom!

Some people arrive at the refuge knowing exactly what kind of dog they want, in terms of age, breed and sex. Others just wander round and see where their heart goes. A third type of person knows what they want a dog for. One such person is Isa, and today’s blog is about her and the dog she adopted from the SPA Carcassonne, Canelle (formerly Brindle).

Isa is an athlete. She competes at a high level on the track, and wanted to move into a sport called Canicross, which some of you may know. Basically a huge elastic waist belt attaches you to your dog, and you race round tracks or cross country together. So Isa had a very clear idea of what she wanted in a dog. But it had to be love, too, not just a tool. I have been to several canicross events (as a spectator, I hasten to add), and you see lots of huskies and other pulling type dogs. But Isa is drawn to a different type of dog completely.

After much deliberation, Isa adopted a dog from us in February this year and immediately enrolled in classes at the Club Canin, Carcassonne (with whom we have an ongoing and successful partnership). Pretty soon Canelle was ready to join Isa on the track. She was a natural. Isa was over the moon, and in her second ever competition they were on the podium! And guess what? Isa donated her prize (of dog food) to the SPA!

At this very moment Isa and Canelle are taking part in the Trophy of the Mountains. This is a huge canicross competition, with participants from 18 different nations. There are ten different stages to run over the course of nine days; I heard from Isa this morning from somewhere in the region Rhone Alpes, where she and Canelle are just about to enter into the top ten senior female category.

Before entering the competition Isa wrote to ask if we would mind if Canelle’s official race name could include the words “SPA Carcassonne”. Of course we were only too delighted to agree. Isa describes Canelle as a real warrior, she is massively proud of her dog, who just 5 months ago was in a kennel at the refuge. She says that together they are Team Freedom!

It is wonderful for us too, to see an owner and dog so in tune with each other. We are proud of them both!

Go Team Freedom!

 Isa and Canelle at the start line (with Canelle obediently posing for the camera!)

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And in full flight during the Trophy of the Mountains

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One out one in.

As far as adoptions is concerned, today wasn’t exactly stunning. However lots of dog walking took place and the one adoption, that of the puppy, Sumo, did raise morale. His space  was quickly taken by a gorgeous female setter, who was found in a nearby village (how many times have we heard that?!) We have named her Katya, as for some reason there seems to be a bit of a Russian theme going on (Nastasya arrived yesterday, and we have Nureyev, who has been with us for 6 months now)

Sumo has gone to a lovely family, and he will have a great time with them, I am sure. They all came along to choose their new companion, and what a fabulous photo!

In other news, we put out an appeal on Facebook yesterday for bamboo screening. We intend to use this to provide some well-needed shade for the cat house and also some of the dog kennels. If we have enough we would like to make an exercise area for those puppies who are living in the infirmary (ie before they are fully vaccinated). And perhaps even screen off the parks so the dogs can play without exciting all the other dogs in the kennels opposite.

In any case, the first donation of screening arrived today and work will start as soon as possible.

If you have anything similar lying around, it would be wonderful if you could bring it along! It will make such a difference to the cats and dogs.

Lovely Katya
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Sumo leaves with his new family

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And some soon-to-be-shade arrives! 

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Four Dog Friday – The Sequel!

Does that sound like a good film title for a follow up to last week’s blog, Four dog Friday? What a coincidence! This is a weekly routine I could get quite used to!

Yes, four dogs left us today. I am happy for all of them, but for two in particular. As puppies, Clyde and Frolo would always find it easier to be adopted than the older dogs, even if it took longer than they would have liked. Both of them have been with us for four weeks, which is a long time in the life of a puppy. But now they can play to their heart’s content and get all the love and attention that puppies need.

Clyde leaves

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So does Frolo

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However It is the adoptions of the two adults that has really cheered me up. Firstly it was the turn of Gaia, a lovely golden coloured shepherd cross, who arrived identified but whose registered owner had given her away and did not have the name of the new owner. (Grrr!).  Gaia has been with us since the end of May, sharing her kennel with a pal and making the most of her new situation. I am so glad she was picked today. She was quite discrete and sometimes dogs like her get overlooked. Perhaps it was the pink stripe down the middle of her nose that sealed the deal; that is certainly what I fell for!

Goodbye Gaia

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Then for me the adoption of the day. Maybe even of the week. Who remembers Hera, also known as the Bullet Dog? Her owner brought her in as she was no longer wanted. When we asked for a donation to help pay for her upkeep (she was not identified, vaccinated or sterilised), he told us that the bullet with which he was planning on shooting her cost a euro, so that is all he was prepared to pay. Well, yah boo sucks to you, Monsieur! Hera has a lovely new home as of today!

Loads more tummy rubs are awaiting Hera

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As ever it was not all good news. Three new dogs arrived, so today has not made much of a dent in the numbers. But you have to look at the dogs as individuals not as an overall mass, and four dogs are happier tonight than they were this morning, for sure!