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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

Three dogs leave, but 5 arrive.

Well, as you will have gathered from yesterday’s blog, we at the SPA were in much need of good news and today we have some. Not enough to balance the scales, which are still very much down on the side of sadness. But another three dogs are in the warm tonight, and one is another example of a genuine save.

On 5th of November much of my blog was dedicated to a dog called Vico, aka Baby Eddy. Some of you may recall that this dog arrived at the refuge only to develop an extremely violent gastro. This resulted in his nearly dying. I was not the only one to have sleepless nights about his condition and I was one of many people who cradled this dog in their arms while he was under transfusion at the refuge.

Sometimes a dog needs to be given the will to live; they feel so bad that they almost wish themselves to die. It was our job to convince this dog by our touch and gentle words that things would get better and that it was worth surviving. Eddy did pull through, but then all we could offer him was a kennel in the cold. He was probably wondering why we had bothered keeping him alive!

Anyway, before you could even say “urgent appeal of the week”, Eddy has been adopted! Better still it was by the woman who had brought him in to us. She had found him outside a government building and had planned on adopting him when she moved house had he not already been chosen. She was unaware of his near-death experience (his illness was still in the incubation phase when he arrived at the SPA), and as soon as she heard (thanks to volunteer Benedicte), she came to collect him.

I didn’t go to say goodbye, as I would have cried. For joy this time.

In addition one of our recent arrivals found his owner, and one of our pups, Satis, was adopted. On the negative side, 5 more puppies arrived from two different litters. It is one step forward and two steps back, right now, but we keep going. No idea how, so thanks to all of you who sent messages and photos today to motivate what is a very down-hearted group of people.

Tonight I wanted to publicise again the upcoming silent auction which is taking place on 6th December at Puivert and thank Anglo-Info for featuring out advert on their main page.


Baby Eddy (Vico). Lucky to be alive
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Satis is adopted












And Angus finds his owner



My cup (of misery) runneth over

Tonight I left the refuge in tears for the first time in a long time. They were not tears of joy either (although our last dog adoption seems so long ago that I have forgotten that feeling in any case). These were tears of frustration; frustration and sadness. Frustration at the selfishness and stupidity of some people, and sadness at the state of the world and man’s relationship with the animals he shares it with.

First up was the abandonment of Tayson. He had been adopted on June 21st after over a year in the refuge. Photos of him followed, gaily posted onto our Facebook page, Tayson at the beach, wearing sunglasses, “best dog in the world” etc etc. Then a phone call on Saturday telling us that he had become over-protective with his mistress, and our strategies for coping with this seemed a bit like hard work, so back he came. They gave us his documents and we were shocked to see that their vet had put this lovely dog on Prozac. Maybe it is just as well he is back in that case, but the look of bewilderment on his face was clear. He was just being a dog. What should he do differently next time?

Next came a phone call from a well-wisher. Had we sanctioned the dodgy-looking calendars that were on sale at La Cite, Carcassonne’s most famous tourist attraction. The answer was no, and so the police went to arrest the people, who were swindling the public.

I won’t go into what is going on politically/financially, as the story has only just begun, but all I can say if that if you think we are taking this lying down, you better think again. And no, I am not talking about the calendars here! That is chicken feed in comparison to what I am referring to.

And to end a perfect afternoon, the SPA was once again treated as a dustbin by someone who had had an unwanted litter and who simply couldn’t keep the puppies due to their child’s allergy to dogs. Yeah, pull the other one, it has got bells on it.

I don’t know where to go from here. I am going to concentrate on organising a dog delivery that I am making next week (hopefully with a friend) and see if that distracts me from the misery that seems to surround me and the SPA right now.

Tayson. “But what did I do wrong?”


Hoping for a miracle.

Today has been very mixed. I was elated yesterday after the SPA Facebook appeal for kennels resulted in some incredibly generous offers. My faith in humankind was restored and I went to bed feeling upbeat, especially after having read Moira’s lovely blog about the happy dogs she has been visiting in Scotland.

All was right in my world, or as all right as it can be, when there are 130 dogs still waiting for homes at the refuge.

But today has been a bit of a disaster. Scotch was not well and an emergency visit to the vet revealed that he is probably diabetic. Lisa tells me that the symptoms of diabetes are also seen in recently traumatised dogs. Scotch was found with a nasty injury, and, as Lisa tells me, stress and injuries can raise blood glucose and make ketones/glucose present in urine, especially if a dog hasn’t eaten well for a while. So more tests to be done, but it just seems so unfair that this little dog, who was already going to be hard to home, (he has a metal plate and 7 screws in his leg), now has an additional handicap. And one that will cost money and require daily treatment.

Scotch has his check up on 7th December and after that we will be looking for a very special home for him. A foster home near Carcassonne or someone with a reliable vet. If anyone has any ideas I am all ears! There are even talks of a trust fund being set up for him!

My fellow dog lovers have been trying to cheer me up (thanks all), but I am not feeling exactly perky tonight.

I popped out to collect a package which had arrived from the UK, and I want to thank Elaine for all the toys treats and towels she sent over for the dogs and cats. Christmas has come early!

There was an arrival at the refuge, a dog who was identified, but his registered owner “gave him away ages ago and has no idea who to”. So that will be an abandoned dog, then.

This has all reinforced by long-held belief that the world is divided into two types of people; those like (presumably all of us), who turn our lives inside out to help animals, and the rest who just don’t care. This second group just pass dogs on willy-nilly, breed dogs to make a bit of extra cash and do not care if they end up in the SPA or dead on a road. And with Christmas approaching the pet stores are full of tiny pups, all huddling together. Do not buy them, you just encourage the puppy farms, which is where by far the majority of them will have come from. There are puppies in every refuge in France, adopt one of them instead!

So tonight I leave you with three images, one that will make you laugh (thanks Rebecca) and one that is very moving, despite being a drawing. The third is of lovely Scotch, who is going to need a miracle to help him find a home. But as we know, miracles do happen……

Holy Dog Rescue, Batman!












The sad reality for many a pet-store pup










And Scotch. He needs a miracle.


Nothing much at the SPA, but good news from afar!

Despite yesterday’s relatively positive start to the weekend today was a complete washout both in the figurative and literal sense of the word. No adoptions at all and plenty of rain. But on the other hand only one arrival, a pre-booked abandonment of a yellow lab who “runs away”. Honestly, how anyone can abandon an animal in this weather is completely beyond me. In fact in any weather at all, but particularly when it is dank and wet. I suppose that not everybody loves dogs the way we all do.

There were the usual loyal group of volunteers, plus a couple of old friends popped by to walk dogs. But really it was not an ideal day, as the rain never really held off for long. Thanks to the team who spent the afternoon sorting out the blankets, and others who braved the cold with the few lucky dogs who did go “walkies”.

An English woman came to adopt a cat, and, recognising the name of the village where she lives, I asked if she knew of any SPA dogs who lived there. We finally worked it out, so I had news, after over three years, of one of the very first dogs that I homed, back when I was still finding my feet at the SPA. Missy (she was called Lady at the SPA) was adopted on September 11th 2010, and the reason I remember the date is that it was my birthday and I said at the time that the adoption of this fabulous dog was the best present I could ever have. I am hoping that photos may arrive. Another of my favourites!

So nothing very positive from the SPA. But you never know when good news will arrive and from where. Whilst writing this my blog my message icon popped up. I have just heard from Association Orphee that Badens has been reserved and will join his forever family next week.

So it has been a good day after all! See, I am thinking positive!


Four more dogs are in the warm!

Today saw the departure of four dogs! Two of them were reunited with their owners and we had two adoption.

First to leave was Helios, whose owner saw pictures of him on Facebook was unable to collect him sooner due to a hectic work schedule. He was collected today to much rejoicing on both sides.

Second to leave was Banbou, who arrived yesterday with an almost illegible tattoo. This can be a problem with older dogs, so it is worth them having a collar with a phone number on it too, if your dog’s tattoo is faded. Anyway Sherlock Carole got to work and the owners were tracked down. Phew!

One of our Egyptian Deities was the next to leave. The little female golden retriever cross, Bastet, finally found her new home. Three of her sisters, all just as beautiful, are still looking for homes.

Fourth to leave was a dog who in fact never knew the cold of the refuge. Dylan, the last of the Magic Roundabout pups was lucky enough to have been fostered by Lisa. This is just as well, as Dylan, Dougal and Florence arrived way too young to be away from their mum, and they also had ringworm! Not pretty at all. Lisa is a veterinary nurse, though, so recognised the symptoms and knew the treatment too. Also she has four dogs of her own plus cats, so any dog leaving her house is well socialised.

Of course the same can be said of many of our foster families, but I am singling Lisa out tonight as this will be the last foster she is able to do for us for a while, due to her work commitments. She will be sorely missed, but luckily for us she will still be available to give advice when needed. And we hope that she will be able to help us out again soon, once things have settled down a bit. Thanks Lisa.

So a pretty good day, and it is comforting to think of the four dogs with their forever families tonight. Let’s hope there is more good news tomorrow!

Helios- reunited with his owner











Banbou- reunited with his owner










Bastet- adopted!










Dylan – adopted!

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An adoption raises morale

It seems like ages since we had an adoption, so tonight there is cause for celebration. A relatively recent arrival, Gulliver, left today with a lovely lady who already has two SPA dogs and a huge garden. Just as well, as Gulliver is not the smallest of dogs! He was brought in on 15th October and the jury is still out as to whether he was abandoned or really had been found by the man who brought  him in. In any case, Gulliver was extremely nervous, and so we put him in to share with Kayser, an older, confident dog. Like Bond, Kayser is always the bridesmaid, never the bride, but we hope that one day his time will come. In the meantime he is a great dog to have around, as he shows the other dogs the ropes, and his kennel mates always get adopted quickly.

The dog that was chipped in Strasbourg was reclaimed (and his owners new details will be changed now) and the owner of one of yesterday’s arrivals phoned us, but will not be able to collect her dog till tomorrow, due to other commitments. That is fine, and we know that there is at least one piece of good news to look forward to!

The weather continued to plague us, but one lucky dog, Sparro, got a lovely long walk thanks to dedicated volunteer Rupert. He enjoyed being rubbed down with a towel when he came back (the dog, that is, I let Rupert dry his own hair!)

Should I mention the three dogs who arrived? I guess I have to. Yes, we have three more guests as of tonight. So as ever it was ups and downs. But the departure of Gulliver may be the start of good times ahead, we can but hope!

Beautiful Gulliver is adopted









Poor Kayser is left behind again










And “Strasbourg” finds her owners.



Christmas baubles coming your way!

Thanks to everyone for all your messages of support yesterday and the lovely photos of the ex-SPA dogs that you sent to motivate me and remind me, and all of us that, although times are hard, we must never give up.

It was lovely to see the photo of Djinn. When the family came to adopt a dog we were unable to anser the question as to whether or not Djinn was okay with parrots. Cats we can do, but the more exotic pets are a bit more difficult. Looks like that turned out okay, then!

And I loved the photo of Callie, with her pal Zach. I am pretty sure that when Sharon and I delivered this dog to her new owners in January, we were told that the family had really strict rules about dogs and sofas. Amazing how persuasive dogs can be, isn’t it!

Refuge wise, we had two more new arrivals, One of whom, a six year old yellow lab, is identified, and the other, a spaniel is not. We are crossing our fingers for both of them.

So in other news, I am pre-announcing something that may be of interest to you. As you know, the employees and volunteers at the SPA are always looking for ways to improve life for our four legged friends. Christmas is coming and we are planning on having an open weekend, “Christmas for the Animals” on 14th and 15th December. More information will emerge as the time approaches, but a big attraction this year, as last year, will be our treat-laden Christmas tree.

Carole and her daughter (yes, I know, slave labour!) are busy making these gorgeous Xmas baubles, filled with dog or cat treats. Other volunteers will be co-opted I am sure. In any case, they can be bought for €4.50 each and either taken home with you for your own pooch or kitty, or given as a gift to a refuge dog or cat.

We need a week’s warning for any orders right now (the production line hasn’t really got going yet), but this was a hugely popular and successful fundraising event last year with the bauble-laden tree providing a lovely centre-piece at the Open Days.

Even animals have Christmas. But for many of them the best present they can ever have is a new home…….

Who me, on the sofa? NEVER (Callie left with brother Zach)









Djinn, okay parrots

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A bauble filled with Christmas Treats


Almost only bad news…..

Today I am at a bit of a loss as to what to write about. With the continuing atrocious weather there is no dog-walking taking place, and almost no one comes to adopt. Can’t blame them to be honest.

Four dogs arrived today, adding to our (and in most cases their misery). Two were found at the gates when we opened this morning, so presumably spent a cold wet night outside. A third arrived thanks to some very underhand shenanigans by certain local authorities, which I won’t go into (but which has made me FURIOUS), and the fourth arrived via our vet. This lovely female had been brought to him, and as she was chipped, in theory her owners should be traceable. Except she is chipped in the name of the SPA Strasbourg, and they apparently keep no records of who adopts their dogs. That improved my mood even further, as you can imagine.

What with that and the endless phone calls from people wishing to abandon their pets (fielded by Carole, not me, thankfully) it has been pretty miserable. Who on earth inherits a house from their parents and refuses to accept the beloved cat that has lived there all his life? Well we have had two such people this week, and it makes me want to give up on humanity.

However some good things did happen. Much to our surprise Gaspard, aka “the dog least likely to…” turned out to be good with cats, which may help find him a home.

And who can remain glum when they come home to news and photos of one of their all-time favourite dogs. Yes, I know having favourites is not the way it should be, but I am only human! In any case, Ripley, aka Punk is positively blossoming in her new home, and that has put a huge smile on my face where before there was none!

Let’s hope things get better or I am just going to hibernate.

Dog adopted from the SPA Strasbourg. Their record keeping is somewhat lacking







Gaspard, surprising cat- lover!

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And a happy looking Ripley (aka Punk)

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Good news for three dogs!

Well, three bits of good news today, despite the weather!

Firstly two dogs found their owners. Both Scampi and Sonic, who had been with us since last week were reclaimed. In fact they turned out to be father and son, and were happy to leave and to do so together! Sometimes we forget that not everyone in the world has Facebook, and that photos of our new arrivals on our page will not necessarily be seen by everyone. Admittedly word of mouth is a wonderful thing, and quite often people recognise their neighbour’s dog on our page and let them know. But sometimes it takes another website entirely to reach the right audience.

Scampi and Sonic (whose real name is in fact Cubi) were found thanks to a site called chien-perdu (www.chien-perdu.org) to which there is a link on this site. This is a wonderful and free resource, where you can search by department, lost or found (yes, it does both) as well as breed and sex. Anyone can put an announcement here, and many people consult this site if they find a dog. That way they can return a dog to its owner without coming via the SPA.

Of course it takes time and effort for a refuge to put all the new entries onto chien-perdu, but it can really pay off (thanks Carole!) And  yes, there is also a chat-perdu which also helps reunite owners with their cats!

The other piece of good news was actually known yesterday, but I didn’t want to distract attention from the wonderful news from Puivert.

Thanks to Association Orfee, our lovely Cadbury has found a permanent home. Of course we knew that once Orfee had taken him, his life would change. But we are all delighted that his foster family has fallen in love with him, and decided to keep him.  Employees and volunteers alike all loved this great lump of a hound, who was just growing into his legs and would bound around like a baby giraffe and make bizarre howling noises to show his joy when on walks. Such an affectionate dog, but with little chance of being adopted from a refuge, where people just saw a chasse dog.

I am so so happy for Cadbury but also for his family who have a lovely dog. And thanks again to Isabelle and all at Orfee. We look forward to more news. The dogs leave us, but we don’t forget them!

Sonic (aka Cubi) is reclaimed











Along with his son, Scampi












Cadbury curls up with his new owner! 








Puivert event exceeds expectations!

Tonight we have another guest blog. This time it is thanks to Deb, the mastermind behind yesterday’s fundraising event in Puivert.

When I first had the idea of trying to raise some money for the SPA and Twilight (the Retirement home for Dogs in the Dordogne, run by a fabulous and dedicated British couple, Leeanne and Mike http://www.twilightchiens.com/),  I thought it would be good to have a cake and book sale. However it grew from there and yesterday saw lots of different stalls selling a wide variety of items. We had local artists selling craft items which they had made themselves, an English food stall with lots of Christmas goodies, beauty products and a great selection of greetings cards which had everyone stocking up for Christmas. The stallholders all gave generous donations for their stall spaces and some kindly gave raffle prizes too.

Then there were the volunteers – wow! They were all amazing, working so hard to raise money for the two canine causes. A group of us set up the hall on Friday afternoon, watching with despair as the snow fell outside. We wondered if WE would get there on Saturday morning, and were sure that hardly any customers would turn up.

We left the hall that afternoon with a fatalistic ‘what will be will be’ attitude and with the knowledge that we had done our best anyway…

I woke up at 4am on Saturday morning and rushed to look out of the window to see if there was snow outside! Luckily it was only raining -so all systems go!

The other stallholders arrived early and set up their displays, it looked very full but we all wondered how many people would come?

At 10am we opened the doors and from then on it was BUSY!  We had cakes, second-hand clothes, a gift stall, books, a doggy gift stall, a super raffle and of course the bottle-tombola (jeu des bouteilles)  where everyone was guaranteed a prize. It took a while for our French neighbours to understand that concept but once they did they came back for more tickets! The coffee stall was very busy and made a great focal point for people to gather, chat and put donations in the collecting boxes!

Once the morning was over there were still some cakes left unsold so 3 of my French friends very kindly offered to go around the neighbouring hamlets, visiting many older people who had been unable to come to the event, and asking for donations in return for a cake. They did amazingly well and raised 70 Euros.

I would like to thank everyone who helped in any way. It would be wrong to name people individually as I would hate to forget anyone by mistake and cause offence, but special thanks go to Belinda for the enormous amount of work she has done. II went on holiday for a month and she organised so much while I was away. In addition she is working very hard for the secret auction in December. Also thanks to my husband Bryan – for his patience with me while this has been going on…and also for not stealing the cakes as I was making them! Each time he has come into the kitchen to ask if the cakes were for us only to be told he can’t touch them….so I think that deserves a special thanks!

Everyone else who helped in any way – THANK YOU so much, we could never have raised that amount of money without you all and I am truly grateful for your help, support and very hard work.

Our next event is on Friday 6 December, 7.30pm in Puivert. We are having a musical evening with the Puivert Choir and the Old Spice Girls. There will be mulled wine and mince pies, a raffle and gift stalls too. The silent auction will be running that evening too and there are some great items on offer. Entrance is free but we will be asking for donations which will again be divided between SPA and Twilight.

PS from Darcey

I would like to thank everyone too, as this event exceeded everyone’s wildest dreams, raising a total of 1200 Euros. This will be split equally between Twilight (who themselves are great friends of the SPA) and us. I would like to thank Deb particularly as well as her fabulous and indefatigable team, and also Rene, President of the Club Canin Carcassonne for lending the Club’s huge coffee maker, despite the pressure he was under to  have everything in place for the Club’s nationwide agility competition today. And thanks to the Puivert team for getting the coffee maker back in time to not give Rene a heart attack!

Thank you all again. Have lots of sleep and get your strength up for the event on the 6th December!

Deb guards the cake stall!








Belinda with the SPA Board and doggy gifts









Cards and gifts








And the now famous “jeu des bouteilles”