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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

Bye-Bye Bench!

Well, something incredible happened today. We have known about it since Monday and the excitement has been palpable, but patience is a virtue.

Today our lovely boy Bench found his home. Not a new home, he found his REAL home. The story is complicated but basically involves a divorce and a husband supposedly rehoming the dog to someone in Corsica, but in fact leaving him to stray, which resulted in his being brought to the refuge. Bench arrived in July 2013, and several people have been interested in him. He was even featured in the British magazine Dogs Today, thanks to Moira, who quite often sends details of our dogs to this well- respected journal. In fact he nearly found a home due to this publicity, and it was only a matter of timing that stopped him hitching a ride to the UK with Rebecca and James in mid-January.

Like many of our dogs Bench (or Balou, to use his real name) has a sponsor at the SPA. Last weekend his sponsor, Chantal, did a wonderful montage for Bench. It was this that was spotted by Balou’s owner, who doesn’t even live in this department! She phoned the SPA on Monday and arranged to collect him. So anyone who wonders why people bother making montages and sharing pictures of dogs on Facebook, there is your answer!

Thanks so much Chantal!

Sadly not all the news was good, as three new dogs arrived. Lovely Calysta was found at Saissac and brought into the refuge by a couple we know and with whom Calysta had spent the night. She is okay with dogs and cats, so with any luck this young beauceron cross will find a home soon.

The other two arrivals are two setters, presumably brothers, who were found in Roullens. One of them made us think so much of dearly departed Alex (of blessed Doglinks), but we resisted the temptation to use the same name. Instead they are called Hunter and Barbour; good outdoor names for two countryside loving dogs!

Don’t forget it is the open day this Sunday, so why not come and see us!

Bench- Reclaimed after seven months!
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New arrival Calysta








New arrivals Hunter and Barbour


Batman Returns (home)

A relatively quiet day at the refuge today, with the only event of note being the departure of yesterday’s arrival, Batman. That is not his real name of course, but when his owner collected him there was such excitement that no one thought to ask what it was. Great news for this little dog but, without wishing to point fingers, if even people in local government do not follow laws on dog identification, it is clear what an uphill struggle we have. Sigh.

In the absence of other news, I thought I would mention the fact that we have plenty of puppies right now, so if you or anyone you know has been waiting for a pup, now is the time to visit us. We have 3 litters at the refuge which making up a total of 10 pups. Three are bichon crosses (one of whom is reserved), and are going to stay tiny. Three are shepherd crosses who will be medium to large and 4 are a mix of shepherd and spaniel (the puppies of Patrol, the lovely German shepherd cross who was brought in last week).

We also have one a female malinois cross, Leia, who is in a foster family so is well on the way to being house-trained.

All are adorable, of course, and assuming our recent blogs on toilet training and education have not put you off, maybe one of them will steal your heart! And don’t forget, with at least two excellent dog training schools close to Carcassonne and free advice on offer, as well as other training schools and even private lessons available a bit further afield, there is plenty of help around should you need it.

I also wanted to draw your attention to the lovely blog written by the mum of recently adopted Flo (ex Froggy). Just read this, and if that doesn’t make you smile, you are in serious trouble!


“Holy quick escapes”











Beta, one of the small pups











One of the Peter Pan litter. Going to be big dogs!












Patrol’s pups







And lovely Leia







Ta-ra to Tootsie!

My refuge day started early today, as I arrived in the morning to meet Tootsie’s new dad. Barry’s wife Ann has already adopted several elderly dogs from the SPA, all of whom live out their lives in luxury in the Landes.

Today Tootsie was renamed Kimmie and went to live with Ann’s menagerie. If you look at the arrival photos of Tootsie and those taken once she had recovered from her neglect, you will see what an amazing job the SPA does. Tootsie even went through a period of being epileptic due to weight loss and stress. She is now free of this illness (which can indeed be temporary). But Ann had decided to adopt her before this good news was known; she is one of those all-too rare people who are not put off by illness in animals.

Tootise is coming up to nine years old, so she is very lucky to have found a home. Older dogs are harder to home, in general, so the adoption of Tootise is definitely a good news story.  And her new mum sent us a chocolate cake, too, which made it even better news (and yes, I did share it!)

This afternoon another dog left us, little Zaz. She didn’t make it onto the site, as she was reserved so quickly. Fabulous for her!

The rest of the day was not so good. A shih-tzu arrived, found in the nearby village of Montlegun. He is seven years old and well-groomed, but is not identified. Sigh.

In addition two more young dogs arrived; the first a young shepherd cross who was found in Villegaihenc and the second a young cross breed who arrived with two young children and a bizarre story of having been given the dog by their father, who had supposedly found it. But that their mother does not want them to keep it. Hmm. No comment. Except that this is a lovely dog and I am glad he is at the refuge!

So two out and three in. Not the best of days, but the best that Tootsie has known in a long time, that’s for sure!

Tootsie when she arrived in June
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And leaving today
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New arrival – Master













New arrival Batman













New arrival Mojo









Five dogs leave!

Today three dogs were reclaimed today thanks to their micro-chips. They hadn’t made it as far as Facebook, as we were reasonably sure that their owners would come and get them. And in fact a couple of them have got “previous”! But it is good to know that with a valid phone number on the central database, you can be reached if your dog arrives at a refuge.

Apart from that today saw the adoption of Bondinette. You may remember her arrival a couple of weeks ago, looking very sorry for herself in the back of a municipal truck (brought in by one of the many villages that use the SPA as their “pound”).

When I saw her I thought “Uh oh”. This is the sort of dog that can spend literally years waiting for a new home. Take her namesake, Bond, who has at the refuge since September 2012…..But sometimes a dog just gets lucky and Bondinette caught someone’s eye very quickly. Once compatibility with the family’s  dog had been checked, off she went to be sterilised and now she is in the warmth of her new home. Bond meanwhile is still waiting. Had he been a girl maybe it would have been him that was chosen….

The reason for the high ratio of male to female dogs at the refuge is the source of much mystery. For some reason people just seem to prefer females. Bond is castrated, though, so he is halfway there!

There was one other adoption today, that of Soprano, a little dog who arrived less than 2 weeks ago. He is a sweet,  affectionate little dog and probably had an owner, but as he wasn’t identified there was no way to contact them and so Soprano starts a new life with a new family. He is identified now, of course!

Bondinette when she arrived- now ADOPTED









Bond – when will MY turn come?










Soprano – ADOPTED


Two adoptions but five arrivals

Despite the horrendous weather the refuge did have some visitors and two dogs found new homes.

First to leave was Piglet. His French name was Marcassin, which is a baby wild pig. But his English name was Piglet, as with that name we were sure he would be snapped up. Sure enough a British couple came to adopt him today! It is all in the name, sometimes!

The other lucky dog was Farou, who had been with us since early September. Always a favourite with the volunteers, Farou was also popular with other dogs, as he is just so laid back and easy to get on with. One lady, Andrea, who walked him whilst on a visit from her native Canada, gave him such a glowing reference that I was sure he would be adopted immediately. However it took a bit longer for him to find his new family. He left today with a small jack Russell as his new pal.

Of the five dogs who arrived, three are micro-chipped and we expect them all to leave early next week, all things being equal. Of the other two one was a pre-planned abandon (due to illness) and the other was found and brought to the refuge this morning. Prepare for pictures of Cannelle and Simpson once I have tracked down my camera, which seems to have gone AWOL.

Thanks as ever to everyone who showed up today. After all, what is a bit of mud between friends!













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Darcey’s rant.

On an average week I upload about 350 photos to Facebook. I try to take pictures of our “oldies” when they are being walked by volunteers, in the hope that a new photo might attract an adopter who had previously not considered this particular dog. Sometimes it is just a different angle that shows off a dog’s personality and can make all the difference.

In addition I try and take photos of every new dog as it arrives. I am not at the refuge every day, and if Carole is too busy to take a picture of the dog’s arrival, I go to its cage as soon as I can afterwards to take a photo. This why some dogs only have photos behind the bars of their cage.

Of course the main reason for doing this is to find the dog’s owner. I spend literally hours every week uploading pictures to Facebook. Other volunteers help out and yet more volunteers and “sponsors” make album covers and wonderful montages which show all the information about a dog and are so effective for sharing on Facebook and other social media networks.

Like me, many of these people have jobs. And other animals. In short we are all busy. We do what we do because we want the dogs to find their owners; stop the refuge from becoming overcrowded and avoid having to resort to euthanasia.

So I get very cross when people are ecstatic to see that their dog has been brought to the refuge and come along to collect him or her, saying that they have been crying all night. If you love your dog so much, why is he or she not identified? Identification of dogs aged over 4 months has been a legal obligation since 1999. (http://agriculture.gouv.fr/identification) Why are you only agreeing to identify him now because the dog is in our “custody”?  The law does not allow us to release an unidentified dog, but quite often people try to make us do so, as if losing their dog once wasn’t enough of a lesson for them.

When you come to collect your dog from us, you pay the money directly to the vet. So effectively there is no penalty at all to you, the dog owner. You pay no more to have your dog identified than you would have had he not come to the SPA.  Maybe this is why you don’t bother. Had the dog not come to the SPA you would probably never have had him identified.

I get particularly frustrated when people come to collect a dog without having even phoned up first or made any effort to find their dog other than sit in the warmth of their home and check our Facebook page, while we are in the cold and rain looking after your dogs.

This anger and frustration is not directed at people whose dogs arrive at the refuge identified. You are the good ones. All the more so if your details are up to date in Paris. Equally this is not directed at the British community, as for the most part you travel with your dogs and for this they have to be micro-chipped. But if you are reading this and you have unidentified dogs, then consider this: In many refuges (particularly those that do not have an active team of volunteers or a Facebook page), your dog can be put to sleep or rehomed after the legal delay of 8 days. And you will never know his fate.

How much do you REALLY love your dog? Enough to pay for it to be identified? Or not really that much?

In the Paris area vets will not treat or vaccinate an unidentified dog. However all vets in the region have to agree to this policy at the same time. In Carcassonne people would just go to a different vet who is not as strict about the law on identification. Or worse, they will not get their dog vaccinated or treated, even in an emergency.

If anyone has any ideas as to how we can encourage irresponsible owners to identify their dogs, please let us know. I am getting to the end of my tether.

A micro-chip reader. Chipping your dog can save its life
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A tattoo does the same job, but your dog cannot travel abroad.

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Six arrivals in 15 minutes

If I only I had left the refuge a bit earlier today. Okay, it wouldn’t have changed the news, but at least I would have left with a smile on my face.

Despite the showery weather it was possible to walk, and a few volunteers showed up to take dogs out. Thanks to you all, as usual, it really does make such a difference to the dogs’ well-being and helps them to keep or improve their lead skills, as well as all round socialisation.

I was on the verge of leaving at 17H30, when things kicked off. Within the space of 15 minutes, we had six new arrivals. So in contrast to my elation of yesterday, today I am feeling far more like my usual miserable self.

First a beautiful shepherd/malinois cross arrived, along with her 4 puppies. Patrouille (Patrol) had been found by volunteer Isa in Montreal, and for four days they have been being looked after at a local business while Isa tried to track down the owners. Turns out Patrouille is chipped, but there is no information at all  on the central database as to who her owners might be. So we have to hope that they see Patrouille on the internet and come to collect her. However we are pretty sure that she isn’t from Montreal, so it is possible that she has been deliberately thrown out. Let’s hope not. A fifth puppy is still loose somewhere, too.

In any case, Patrouille is beautiful, very gentle and affectionate (in fact her need for affection made me think of Winter) and I am sure if she is not reclaimed she will find a new home soon

And things got worse. While Patrouille was still being “booked in”, yet another dog arrived.  This beautiful boy is not identified and was found wandering yesterday. He spent the night in a home with a toddler and cats, and there was no trouble at all, so it is possible that he has an owner (or that he is naturally well-mannered!).

So it was a bad day in many ways, but for Patrouille (and her puppies) and Tusk, the SPA is just a stepping stone to a new and better life.

New arrival Patrouille







Patrouille’s puppies (number 5 is still lost)








And magnificent Tusk






Well, only one news story tonight, but it is about the best news we could possibly have ! Fuji was reclaimed! Turns out that his real name is Sultan and he is 16 years old! His owners had just about given up hope of ever seeing their dog again; he had been missing for ages. Which explains his matted fur and the fact that he was so thin. He is a retired hunt dog, but one who is much loved. Seems that his nose is still in fine form, and it is that which led him astray!

The fact that our vet thought he was 11 years old is no reflection on the skills of our vet. Aging a dog is not an exact science, and the fact that Fuji is in fact 5 years older than the vet’s “guestimate” shows how well he was looked after before going missing. I am sure he will be the happiest of dogs tonight, and as for his owners, I can only imagine their joy!

We are absolutely over the moon at the news. Even when we thought Fuji/Sultan was 11, we were worried for him in the cold of the refuge. As it is, he has only spent five days there, and at least he was warm and dry and fed during this time.

But please don’t forget that we have other dogs of this age, such as Tom, who would love to have a home, too. Giving a home to an elderly dog can be extremely rewarding, and we salute all of you who are willing to do so.

One dog arrived and there was a reservation, but for now nothing can ruin my joy and I am sure that of everyone at the refuge and probably lots of you too!

Fuji/ Sultan- RECLAIMED











Tom- I would like a home too, please!


Two adoptions and a grooming session!

Today saw the adoption of Anouka! She arrived at the SPA in early September 2013 having had what can only be described as a difficult life. Apparently she had lived with a group of travellers and was left behind when they moved on from Carcassonne. She made her home in a local quarry, where she had to fend for herself and her puppies. Some dog lovers managed to capture the pups all of whom were rehomed, but Anouka was much harder to approach as she was terrified.

She was eventually brought to the refuge by the police and has gradually come out of her shell, thanks to the attention and love showed to her by the SPA employees and volunteers. Unlike certain other refuges we don’t threaten to euthanise dogs who are “unhappy” in the SPA, rather we work with them to help them to be happy.

Anouka spent a couple of weeks in foster with a good friend of the SPA, where we learned more about her character. Not great with cats, quite independent by nature (unsurprising after the life she has led), and initially nervous of humans but very affectionate. Finally she has found a home to call her own.  Excellent news!

Yet more excellent news was the adoption of Panini, who had been with us since the end of November. He is a fabulous dog and I am not surprised that he caught the eye of some visitors to the refuge. Surprised maybe that it didn’t happen sooner.

And a mixture of employees and volunteers spent two long hours grooming poor Fuji. He behaved like a true gentleman, even when we were getting close to his most delicate areas! He was in a terrible state, and quite honestly, I think he has been straying or at least severely neglected for some considerable time.  Let’s find him a lovely home in which to spend his twilight years!

Anouka – ADOPTED









Panini – ADOPTED












And Fuji in mid-groom. 10 out of 10 for patience and tolerance!


Ins and outs, ups and downs

Well, I think a record has been broken, but not a good one. I am not referring to the number of dogs who have arrived this year (over 40 so far, by the way), but the amount of time between a dog reaching his new home and being brought back. Laika (aka Fetide) was sterilised and left with a friend of her new owners on January 10th to convalesce post-operation. She joined her new family on Saturday, but by Sunday they had already contacted us to say that they were bringing this six year old setter back as she was not good with their cats.

The foster mum is a good friend of the refuge, so I will try not to be too critical, especially as her friend is an experienced rescuer. However I do wonder what is going through the head of this dog, who spent over two weeks in one home, then was moved to another 200 km away and then brought back to the refuge immediately afterwards. Perhaps I am a bit over-sensitive, but I for one feel sorry for her.

Laika should have no problem finding a home, as she is pretty and extremely affectionate, but if you have cats then she is not for you.

There are ways of integrating a new dog into a home with existing animals and we are happy to give advice on this should problems be experienced. There is no overnight solution, though, and time and patience (and a suitably flexible working lifestyle) are required.

In other refuge news, Adam and Eve were reclaimed by their owner and Albertine, was adopted. I am overjoyed for this lovely girl who was left alone in Quillan when her young owner moved back to her parent’s house in Lyon, leaving her dog behind.

In not such good news, lovely Fuji who arrived on Saturday went to see the vets, and he is 11 years old. This makes him, along with Tom, the oldest dog in the refuge, and getting them both a home has to be a priority, especially as the weather has just turned colder.

Fetide/ Laika is back









Albertine- ADOPTED













Adam and Eve – RECLAIMED
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And poor Fuji is 11 years old and needs a home!