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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

The worth of a dog

Sometimes people re-home their dogs due to a change in personal circumstances. Not all of these changes of ownership go well, clearly, and sometimes the dog arrives at the refuge without the knowledge of the original owner. Such was the case with Bali, who arrived on May 24th. Luckily the change of ownership was never registered at the Centre in Paris, as after the handover was made, the new owner failed to send off the paperwork. So when Bali arrived, we phoned the old owner. She was surprised to hear that Bali was with us, but actually she was quite pleased. She had given Bali away two years ago when her circumstances had changed, but had always regretted it. So today she came to reclaim her dog. Sometimes these things are just meant to be….

On a far less positive note, we have a new arrival. A rather unpleasantly aggressive man arrived to abandon his dog, stating that she barks too much. We politely asked if he could wait a while (abandoned dogs, as opposed to those that are found straying, are the only thing that we have control over, and to avoid over-crowding, we have a waiting list). He stated that if we didn’t take the dog immediately, he would shoot it. It didn’t look like he was bluffing, so we agreed to take his dog, a little female crossbreed of 7 years. We asked if he would possibly make a donation, as the dog is not vaccinated or identified, and the SPA is a charity which survives on donations and adoption fees. He replied that a shotgun cartridge costs one euro, so that is all he would give us. Nice, eh? Let’s hope she has better luck with her next owners!

Beautiful Bali leaves









Sad little girl arrives

This way to the SPA

Today was the first Sunday of the month, so the refuge opened its doors. Volunteers arrived en masse, and we had plenty of potential adopters too. There are 120 dogs at the refuge, and about tow thirds of them were walked today; it was an incredible effort, so thanks very much to everyone who came along to help.
A couple of dogs were reserved and they all got lots more attention than most afternoons, let alone on Sundays, when the refuge is usually shut.
I have been busy uploading the 172 photographs that I took onto the SPA Facebook page, but one that I haven’t shown to the world can be seen here. For literally years people have commented on the difficulties they have when trying to find the SPA for the first time. We have put up various signs, but nothing has really worked. However, today one of the long-standing members of the Association (the SPA is legally a charitable association), delivered this fabulous new sign. It is made of exterior quality plastic and is robust and quite simply beautiful (as well as being BIG!)
We need to attach it to the lamp post at the end of the road. Any ideas, anyone? Next time (or maybe the first time) you visit the SPA, you should have no trouble finding us!
Also today we had two groups of volunteers doing fund-raising activities for the SPA; one at a plant nursery in Caunes Minervois, and the others at a car boot sale in Couiza. And I thought Sunday was meant to be the day of rest!
Thanks to everyone!


A small departure and a big arrival!

There was only one adoption today; that of Kenzo, who was the black labrador puppy who arrived as Pluto left, and who spent his 10 days of time “in the pound” (during which dogs can be reserved but not adopted in case their owners show up) with a volunteer. Today it was time for him to leave with his new family and we hope he will be very happy. And don’t worry, Val, I am sure we will have a new puppy to take care of soon!
One lucky dog made a brief entry and re-exit, as despite the fact that his tattoo was hard to read, his owners were looking for him.
But as ever it was not all good news. We had another dog brought in today, and he is a BIG one! Information to come, but if you are after a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, you may want to keep an eye on this boy.
We have called him Hercules purely due to his size.
Other than that, plenty of dogs were walked, and we will try and walk some of the unlucky ones tomorrow, which is our monthly Sunday opening. Why not pop in (14H00-18H00) and lend a hand. There are rumours of sunshine…
Oh, and someone brought us a fledgling crow, which was nice.

Goodbye Kenzo







Hello Hercules



Freedom for Junior!

I know a lot of you will be pleased to see that this little chap has been adopted. Junior’s story is not the happiest. He was found already micro-chipped and brought to the SPA in January. His owner was difficult to contact to say the least. So one of the volunteers, not believing that the dog had been deliberately lost, went to see her. She confirmed that she didn’t want Junior any more, so he was duly put up for adoption.  It didn’t take long for him to find a new home, after all, who could resist this little poodle cross? Unfortunately, and by complete coincidence, his new owners lived in the same street as his old owners. And the garden was not properly fenced, so Junior kept leaving to go and see his old owners.
His new owner, despite letting Junior sleep on her bed at night, was not prepared to fence the garden (which would have taken no more than a couple of planks of wood), and decided to abandon the dog instead. What’s more, she came brandishing the telephone number of Junior’s previous owners, assuring us that they would be collecting him the next day as they wanted him back. All nonsense of course, but people will say almost anything to ease their conscience when they are abandoning a dog.
Junior then spent another two months behind bars, barking desperately to attract attention.  Sometimes a dog makes no  impression in his kennel, not even attracting enough interest for people to request that we take them out for a closer look. Junior was a firm favourite with the volunteers, though, and it was while he was being walked that a young family saw him and fell in love.
We made sure that they live nowhere near his previous home and explained his history. This time, and at the age of five, we are confident that Junior will be happy.


The bad days are here again.

Sometimes when we have lots of adoptions there is a sense of optimism and it is easy to forget the harsh reality that is the refuge. As well as all the recent good news, there has been a fair bit of bad.
I am pleased to say that the puppy, Boza or Boris who arrived on Tuesday looks like he is going to make it, but on the negative side, we have had seven dogs arrive at the refuge in the past two days. I am not sure if people watch our Facebook page, see that some dogs have left and assume that we will have room for their cast-offs, but there seems to be a bit of a trend at the moment. I am feeling the exact opposite of how I was feeling this time last night.
People never cease to amaze me in the way they treat their animals, and sadly, for every wonderful home that we find, there will be a dog or cat cold alone and neglected. The ones that make it to us are the lucky ones, in many respects, but the refuge walls are not made of elastic and we are starting to fill up again.
Thankfully I can always find something to cheer me up. Today it is in the form of some photos received recently of ex-SPA dogs who are now happily rehomed.
Here are Lolipop, who is being officially adopted on Monday but who left yesterday as we  know her owners (they also adopted the fabulous dog, Sake, who you see here playing with his new sister). Then you can see Harlequin, who went to live in the UK thanks to a wonderful border collie rehoming association called Wiccaweys, and a human chain involving a very good friend of the refuge. Yes, border collies are a bit special (which is why so many of them end up at the SPA), but with the right owners they are hard to beat as pets!
We have several border collies at the SPA at present; if you have an outdoorsy lifestyle and would like a faithful companion to share it with, please get in touch!

Lolipop (with Sake)

llolipop 040









Harlequin starts agility training

Bye-Bye Beagle

I am a very happy girl tonight. Many of you will know how much I love beagles. In fact I have one of my own, an old lady who came from the SPA, presumably dumped there after her breeding days were over. She is now about 14 and is snoring away happily on the sofa.
In mid-March a very sorry looking beagle arrived at the refuge (in fact her arrival was the subject of an earlier blog entry). Eugenie had a tumour so big that her belly was touching the ground and she could hardly walk.
She was operated on with great success, and we sterilised her while she was under anaesthetic. Since this time she has gone from strength to strength. Due to her age, I think we all expected her to end her days in the refuge, so we made her life as much fun as possible, by letting her  live in one of the parks, which she was sharing with 3 other dogs.
Then today a miracle happened. An elderly man was looking for an elderly lady of the canine variety. It was love at first sight and so we said goodbye to Eugenie.
Just look at the photos of her arrival day and that taken today! I cried a little bit, of course, but I am so happy for her! Never ever give up hope, all you oldies at the SPA, we will get you out!

Eugenie in mid March
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Eugenie today!


Shuto Shuffles Off!

He was not to everyone’s taste; some of us thought he was cute, others thought he was ugly, and some thought he was just odd looking. Luckily we all have different taste in dogs. Shuto,  featured on this blog where he was described as being a sharpei-sausage, was adopted today. The family who adopted him had seen his photos on our Facebook page and come specifically for him. Provided he was good with cats, that is. We all held our breath as Shuto was taken to the cat house; all smiles when he emerged!
Wonderful news for this dog and I am so glad he found a home so quickly.
Bad news arrived in the form of a  tiny (and I mean TINY) puppy; 6 weeks old, found wandering in a nearby village in a skeletal state and covered in ticks.  He has gone home with some volunteers who luckily for him (and us) have veterinary qualifications. Fingers crossed that he pulls through.

Shuto leaves the refuge

Sharpie cross lovely colour

Magnificent Monday

Maybe the heavy showers on Saturday had put people off visiting the refuge. In any case, today was glorious in more ways than one, with no fewer than four dogs being adopted.  One of them, Olympique, was expected, as her new owners were just waiting for her to be sterilised before taking her home. This is a wonderful adoption for this dog who has been at the refuge since July last year (hence her name!) She arrived with a badly broken leg, but thanks to the wonderful SPA vet, you would never know that this young cross-breed has a metal plate and a dozen or so screws in her body!
Other adoptions today were those of Flocon, a big overgrown puppy who, by coincidence, is featuring on our Twitter feed today. I am so pleased for him, he was one of many young dogs who were growing up in the refuge. Freedom at last.
Fluffy little Filou found a home too, which is wonderful for him, as he couldn’t understand why he was being overlooked. And finally Bonhomme moved from one home to another; this chihuahua had been in foster care since arriving unidentified at the refuge. As soon as he had been castrated (obligatory for dogs with breeding potential) he was up for grabs, and to his foster family’s delight, he has been adopted by one of our volunteers, so he is still part of the SPA family.
So a good day, all in all. Long may it continue!
































Little Chicken flies the nest; kittens arrive.

The good (actually the wonderful) news of the day was the adoption of little Poulette. She was collected this morning by one of our volunteers and is now on her way to a new life in Marseille, with a lovely lady who has already adopted two of our cats. We will miss little Poulette, but we are delighted that she has found a home. Not everyone is willing to take a dog of 12 years old, although I suspect (and hope)  that Poulette will last for many years to come.
The not so good news was that while leaving the refuge, Poulette’s “chauffeur” saw 5 kittens which had been unceremoniously dumped at the refuge gate. Not even a cardboard box to stop them wondering into the road or to shelter them from the elements. It is clearly marked everywhere that the SPA is closed on Sundays, apart from the first one of the month. Dumping animals when the refuge is closed is a cowardly act. Not only is there a skeleton staff at work, who are already stretched, but how on earth does one find a foster family on a Sunday morning?
This site is dogrescuecarcassonne, but the SPA has cats too, and as of today we have 5 more to cope with. A foster family was found, but my blood is only just starting to come off boiling point. These kittens are not wild, they are clearly an entire litter of someone who has just not bothered to sterilise their cat and who thinks it is okay to treat the SPA as a dustbin. Shame on them, whoever they are.
Kittens are arriving almost every day and foster families are always needed. If you would like details of what is expected of a foster, please get in touch!

A happy smile from Poulette as she leaves the refuge

One of the newly arrived kittens.

Two adoptions and a fab new look for the website!

Two excellent bits of news today regarding dogs. This morning Casper went to his new home, having been delivered to a half-way point by one of our volunteers. A wonderful life awaits, as Casper is due to spend his life travelling between France and the Coltswolds. Bet they will not have seen too many Griffon Nivernais over there!
The second adoption of the day was that of Bross, who has a malformation of his front legs, which may well result in early onset arthritis. It is encouraging to see that not everybody is put off by doggy-disabilities. As you can tell from his photograph, Bross is just overflowing with love and this is what attracted his new owners.
Many dogs were walked this afternoon, despite the occasional downpour, and yet again the volunteers were out in force.
I came back home to the exciting news of a completely re-vamped website. I claim no credit for this whatsoever, it was the web-elves, so a million thanks to them. If there are any minor glitches they will be sorted out in time. Anything major, please let me know.
I am sure you all agree that it is a major improvement; as far as I am concerned, anything that helps reach more potential adopters has got to be good!
Thank you my lovely web elves!

Casper in  his new home!









Bross leaves the refuge