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Author Archives: Darcey Dyson

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”


Scotch’s operation goes well!

Unlike our last two Saturdays which have been the cause of much rejoicing, today was pretty miserable at the refuge. Of course the weather had a lot to do with it, as despite the willingness of several volunteers, the dogs could not be walked. Instead we spent some time plotting and planning our activities for next month. Yes, even animals have Christmas, so watch this space!

On the subject of events, reports from Puivert have been very positive. Apparently everything went excellently and I will tell you all the news tomorrow! Well done girls (and one “boy”!)

As you know, funds are always needed, and we were reminded of this again with the return from the vets of little Scotch following his major operation. He is now sleeping in the warmth of the infirmary and he will start his physio as soon as possible. He is expected to make a full recovery, with no more limping! So despite everything, this is good news!

Other good news today came in the form of 4 dogs finding their homes. Three of these arrived in the last day or so, so nothing too dramatic, but yesterday’s “guess the breed” dog left, and his owner was unable to help us resolve our discussion, other than to say that the mother was a French bulldog. REALLY???

Our one adoption of the day, that of little Chiffon was great news. He has found a lovely home and is going to spend a lot of time in a campervan, as his new owners are great travellers. He is the ideal dog for such a life; small enough for even the tiniest pocket!

Bad news came in the form of the return of Atlas. This black labrador cross was saved by a couple who found him starving having been tied up to a tree in the middle of nowhere. He arrived at the SPA in July 2012, where he spent 7 months, patiently waiting. He was adopted in February this year, and without a word of warning he was unceremoniously dumped at the refuge today.

The family with whom he has spent these past nine months have taught him no lead skills, so chances are he was never walked. Perhaps this is why he took himself off to walk. As for the fact that he went through the neighbours dustbins, that is hardly a reason to abandon a dog. He is just following his nature. Atlas’s former owner did not spare a backward glance at his dog; mind you, Atlas seemed quite happy to be back, too.

His owner had not bothered having Atlas vaccinated in August when it was due, as he had already decided to abandon him and his vet (whom he refused to name) told him that it would just be a waste of money. Yeah, right. All vets would recommend bringing an unvaccinated dog back to a refuge. And if you had decided to abandon Atlas in August, why not phone us up so we had some warning?

If anyone is after a black lab cross, two and a half years old, good with cats, children and other dogs, just get in touch. Atlas deserves a better life. As for his former owner, there is a word for people like you. I am far too ladylike to put it in print, though.

Scotch returns from the vet. A long road lies ahead.









Louky finds his owner










Chiffon is adopted

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And Atlas is dumped Grrrr!


Busy weekend on the way!

Today has not been a great day at the SPA, with four dogs arriving. On the positive side the dog who was brought in yesterday identified as having been adopted from the SPA earlier this year was reclaimed. Furthermore photos of another of yesterday’s arrivals whom we named Rocket on our Facebook page has been spotted by his owner. She works in the mornings, so will not be able to collect him till tomorrow, but at least we know that soon he will be happily reunited with his mum, and just as importantly, identified!
Of today’s four arrivals, one is the brother of Tracy/ Tania a very elderly golden lab who is in long term foster with some volunteers. In fact they have decided to take the plunge and adopt her. I hope her brother is as lucky, and that if his owners don’t come for him, at least he will find someone to take him home for winter.

So today has not exactly been uplifting. And the weather has not helped.

I am hoping it improves a bit for the fundraising event tomorrow, which is being organised by some of the British volunteers, but of course everyone is welcome. This event in the Salle de Mairie in Puivert from 10H00-13H00 is the first of two functions, the second is on Friday 6th December and is more for the party-goers amongst you. Proceeds from both fundraisers will be split between the SPA and Twilight, which is a retirement home for old dogs. They are great friends to the SPA and lovers of old dogs everywhere, and we are happy to support them.

I hasten to add that both events are indoors, so if the miserable weather today has put you off, never fear! I have seen some of the fabulous donations that have been given for tomorrow’s bric a brac stall and there is some great stuff, so why not pop along and grab a bargain, as well as meet some like-minded folk. And the cake stall is going to be worth a visit even without all the rest of the attractions. Tea and coffee and a bun can chase away the worst case of winter blues!

And the function finishes in time for you to pop up to the SPA afterwards, if you fall in love with any of the dogs, pictures of whom will be on display.

Let’s make this another weekend to remember, everyone!

Tomorrow morning in Puivert- Don’t miss out!
SPA (1) (1)

Selection of Stalls, Cakes, Arts & Crafts, Christmas Cards, Book Stall,Nearly new clothes, Christmas Gifts, Christmas Puddings, Mince Pies,Mincemeat, English Sausage Stall, Bottle Stall and a Raffle!Saturday 16th November, 10am-1pm Salle de Mairie at Puivert

Friday 6th December, 7.30pm Musical Evening at Salle de Mairie at Puivert

Musical Evening with the Puivert Choir and the Old Spice Girls who are not to be missed! Mince Pies & Mulled Wine will be served.

There will also be a Raffle, Bottle Stall and a Silent Auction

Plus the chance to buy some unique Christmas Gifts.




And a new arrival. We should have a guess the breed competition with this boy!






Summer leaves as winter settles in.

Summer has experienced quite lot in her short life. Found and brought into the SPA with her sister, Sunshine, adopted and loved for a few months until divorce and a house move left her tied up on a balcony before being brought back to the SPA a month ago. Since then she has been sharing her box with Bond, and amazing her regular walkers (Jenny!) by her fabulous lead skills, which were so at odds with her crazy behaviour in the SPA.

Anyway, today she left with what is surely her forever home. A perfect match with a lovely family. At last.

In other refuge news, two more dogs found their owners. Savane only arrived yesterday, so although I suppose her owners had a sleepless night, they came to collect her as soon as possible and she is now micro-chipped. For Squirrel, however (Snoopy in real life), things are a bit stranger. He has been with us for over two weeks, and being small and sweet it is a miracle that he had not been adopted. How does someone not look for their dog for this long? Sometimes I wonder if we are just a free kennelling service. We have costs too, you know, we have to feed and look after the dogs that arrive, which includes vaccinating them. We don’t know that their owners will show up!

Four dogs arrived today, two of whom were found in Limoux. Don’t get me started. A third dog was adopted from us and we hope her owners will come and collect her (she is microchipped, obviously)

The fourth arrival is a good illustration of why we need money and how every penny counts. Scotch was found by the roadside by a lovely gentleman who brought this young pup to the refuge. Scotch was terrified and showed some pain in his back leg. A visit to the vet an hour later showed why. Scotch has a badly fractured leg, which is starting to reheal out of place. So on Saturday the SPA vet will re-break the leg and re-set it, after which it will be a case of regular exercise to give this young dog the best chance possible of a normal life. And as we showed with Olympe several months ago, this is completely possible.

However it takes money, so I am grateful to everyone who helps the SPA in any way they can. And I wish good luck to the girls who are organising the fundraising event in Puivert this weekend. Both the SPA and Twilight need all the help we can get in order to provide the best possible care to the dogs and cats in our charge.

Summer leaves with Debbie









Savane- reclaimed











Squirrel (or Snoopy) – reclaimed after two weeks.










Little Scotch arrives injured











Ouch, bet that hurts!




Yet another reunion and an adoption too!

Yesterday I took some photos of a dog who had no album on Facebook. He had been at the refuge for nearly a week, so hopes of finding his owner were fading (he was not identified). He was a hairy scruffy looking mix, and after a few minutes of deliberation we decided to call him “Mop”, as we already had a “Swiffer” at the SPA.

Anyway, today he was reunited with his owner. No, not thanks to Facebook; just coincidentally his owner came to see if his boy had been found. He had phoned up yesterday, but was unable to describe his dog, so Carole said the best thing would be to come along and have a look. If only he had said “My dog looks like a floor cloth”, we could have told him that his dog was safe and sound!

In any case, “Mop” has now left, complete with microchip!

And lovely Milana left today. This beautiful border collie was found at the toll station at Carcassonne East and brought to the refuge. Initially terrified (well, what dog wouldn’t be, having been dodging cars then brought to a busy and loud dog refuge), Milana soon settled in thanks to sharing her box with Balthazar, who is a more confident dog. We soon had her running round and making friends. She then caught the eye of one of our volunteers, Isabelle, and today, after being sterilised, Milana left for her new life.

News will follow, for sure, along with pictures of Milana without bars in front of her!

Two new dogs arrived which isn’t good, but for now we seem to be holding our own. Be nice to get some of the long-term residents and oldies out before winter arrives, though…..

“Mop” leaves with his owner









And Milana leaves with volunteer Isabelle


A day of reunions!

Well, today saw no fewer than three dogs finding their owners. Tom, a Brittany spaniel and Bruno, a little griffon cross were both chipped, so reuniting them with their owners was not too tricky. However Moise (in real life, Titou) was not identified, so that was a bit harder.

Turns out this border collie was 15 years old, and his owners were delighted to find him. Even more so as he has not been in a cold wet box at the refuge, instead he has been looked after by a SPA-supporting family. They said they would keep him for as long as it took to find his owners, and I know for a fact that they were quite sad to see him leave. I get attached to any dogs that come my way very quickly, too, so I understand completely!

One further reunion was that of Kaira and Chico. Kaira returned from the vets after being under observation since her twisted gut on Saturday. Now she is back to normal and she and herkennel buddy, Chico were very pleased to see each other. She will be encouraged to eat in a more ladylike manner from now on, after her lucky escape!

So all in all that is four reunions today. And in a way, the one adoption was also a reunion! The couple who adopted Martin have been walking him regularly for nearly two months but were unable to take him sooner due to travel commitments. When they arrived today, complete with lead and collar, Martin (now Marty) knew his time had come, and he wagged his little stump of a tail like crazy! We are all so pleased for him, this little lad arrived in a terrible state, covered in scars. Isn’t he looking handsome now!

So that is four dogs out of the refuge today, and only one arrival. He is chipped too, so who knows, maybe he will be reunited with his owner too. We could do with more days like this!

Bruno finds his dad










Moise (aka Titou) finds his owners. He is 15!










And Martin (now Martin) is adopted after 5 months at the refuge!











(This is how he looked when he arrived at the SPA four months ago)





Operation “Go Dog” is a success!

This blog was written by Rebecca, and a huge thank you goes to her and to James for the role they played in Operation Go Dog!

As you all know, Saturday was another amazing day with nine dogs leaving the refuge, five of which were taken by the fabulous ORFEE Association. It is often the case that people would love to adopt from a refuge, but are hesitant about adopting a dog with an unknown past…will they be housetrained? What are they like with other dogs, cats, and children? This is where fabulous associations such as ORFEE come in to play. They take dogs from various refuges around France and place them in loving foster families. Here they are assessed and educated before departing for their forever homes.

Having volunteered at the refuge for almost a year, you become familiar with each dog and of course, everyone has his or her favourites. Sometimes you come across a dog, or dogs, with which you form an instant bond. Griffi and Griffo were like that for me. There was just something about this brother and sister pair that touched my heart. They were so shy; very few volunteers could coax them out of their box. Their big soulful eyes watched silently and forlornly from the back of their cage. Once they were away from the refuge, they became completely different dogs, full of joy and affection. When I heard that Griffi and Griffo had been chosen by ORFEE, I offered to help deliver them to their new foster family. Joining Griffi and Griffo would be youngsters Cadbury, Flocon and Badens. By the departure date, two further dogs would be added to the voyage, a young female Andalucian Podenco named Poody, and a one-eyed Chihuahua named Jewel.

The big day was finally here. We arrived at the refuge to see the dogs happily running and playing in the dog parks. I look over to see Calvin sitting and gazing longingly into the dog parks. He was ever hopeful. Today was his big day too; he just did not know it yet. My partner James and I left the refuge mid-morning with the sun shining and six excited dogs in the back of our van. We had just one more stop to make, we would be collecting Jewel from her foster mum along the way. In Alzonne, a tearful Valerie handed over the tiny Chihuahua and we then set off on our 4-hour journey.

On our arrival in Limoges, the foster parents and adopters were already waiting; the pouring rain had not diminished their enthusiasm! We opened the door of the van to seven wagging tails. One of the foster parents took one look and simply said ‘Their new lives start here’. I almost burst into tears. The first to leave was Jewel. Jewel arrived at the refuge in a terrible state- he was covered in ticks, fleas, was thin, and missing an eye. He was lovingly fostered and went from strength to strength. Jewel was rehomed via Doglinks and here, you can see Jewel safely in the arms of his doting new mum Sue. Thank you!

Poody was next to leave. This Andulcian Podenco was brought into the refuge as the result of police action against a dog trafficker. You can imagine everyone’s despair at finding her tied up to the refuge gates a few years later. This time, however, she has gone to a wonderful foster home with another Podenco to play with. I have a sneaky suspicion she will be adopted by her foster mum Irene soon enough! Here is Poody and Irene before heading home out of the rain and into the warm!

Badens and Cadbury were next to leave. By this time, the rain was heavy so I have no photos of their departure. There fosterers have been quick with photos and news so Darcey will be able to tell you all about their progress. (They are doing fine, both enjoying being in the warm and learning all about family life-Darcey)

Flocon, an exuberant youngster, was taken away by his new foster family with his tail wagging and excitedly bounding about. He will make a lovely family pet. We have already received pictures of him in his new foster family and I managed to take this one of him in a moment of calm (calm Flocon).

Finally, it time to say goodbye to Griffi and Griffo. A bittersweet moment for me…if things were different, it would be me adopting them!.

PS from Darcey

As someone who has arranged dog deliveries in the past, and continues to do so, (as do many other employees and volunteers), I can tell you that it is one of the most stressful things ever. Even when it involves a single dog, there are always worries: will the adopter show up, will I get lost, will the car break down, will the dog be okay. Rebecca and James coped with 7 dogs at once and I am incredibly grateful and also impressed.

If anyone else can ever help us out with dog delivery, please get in touch. As you see from Rebecca’s blog, it was a really rewarding thing to do, and we promise to do all the arranging for you!

And finally, if you now regret having missed out on one of these dogs (the Orfee five, that is, not Jewel or Poody), please get in touch with Association Orfee. http://association-orfee.forumactif.com/ You can follow the progress of the former SPA dogs there, too!

Sue and Jewel











Poody and Irene












Flocon being calm! He is now with Angelique and is doing really well!













Rebecca says a tearful goodbye to Griffi and Griffo













And here she is with them at the SPA earlier this year










Finally here are Cadbury and Badens, safe and in the warm, as are all the others too, of course








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Twisted Gut: “the mother of all emergencies”

Well, news of the five dogs who left with Association Orfee yesterday is trickling in and all seems to be going excellently. There are a couple of photos already of the dogs in their new homes, but I will wait till tomorrow to tell the whole story, as Rebecca has all the photos of the journey and she will write most of the blog, with any luck!

So today I am writing about something far less pleasant. Yesterday morning while cleaning out the pens, Melanie, one of the SPA employees, noticed that Kaira was not well. She rushed this lovely Dogue de Bordeaux cross to the vet and Kaira underwent emergency surgery for what is known as Bloat or Twisted Gut; aka the Mother of all Emergencies.

A quick look on the internet will explain why. One of my Facebook friends and an SPA supporter, Nicki has experience of this, as she lost her lovely rescue Doberman, Tupac, this way several months ago. Evelyn of Doglinks had more luck when her hound, Jojo had the same problem a couple of years ago. And luckily thanks to the quick actions of Melanie and our excellent vet, Kaira has been saved, but it could have worked out so differently.

Bloat is basically when gas and/or food stretches the dog’s stomach to many times its normal size, causing tremendous abdominal pain. For reasons we do not fully understand, this grossly distended stomach can rotate, thus twisting off its own blood supply and the only exit routes for the gas inside. Not only is this condition extremely painful but it is also life-threatening. A dog with a bloated, twisted stomach (more scientifically called gastric dilatation and volvulus) will die in pain in a matter of hours unless drastic steps are taken.

It usually occurs when a dog has eaten a large meal too quickly, or has taken exercise too soon after eating. The larger, deep chested breeds are affected more than the littlies.

So how do you recognise if your dog has bloat? He or she may have an obviously distended stomach especially near the ribs but this is not always evident depending on the dog’s body configuration.

The biggest clue is vomiting. The dog appears highly nauseated, writhes in pain and retches but little comes up, apart from sometimes foamy bile.

If you see this, rush your dog to the veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.

And how to avoid the condition? Well, nothing is guaranteed, but the two main factors to prevent bloat are to feed your dog two small meals per day rather than one large one, and to never take a dog out for exercise after he has eaten. It is also a good idea to stop your dog eating too quickly. This is easier said than done (I have a “speed eating beagle” to prove it!), but putting a large stone into the bowl (or here in France a petanque ball) around which the dog has to eat, can slow down a “gobbler”.

Kaira had a lucky escape, which is amazing when you think of all the dogs there are in the refuge and how easy it would have been for this condition to have passed unnoticed (three cheers for Melanie). Cases in dog refuges are almost always fatal….Now all we need to do is find this girl a home.

Kaira, saved in the nick of time








Nicki’s beloved Tupac wasn’t as lucky.


Le grand depart take two!

No, I haven’t accidentally copied last Saturdays blog! Today was another amazing day, with nine dogs leaving the refuge. It was slightly different, this week, as today five of them left thanks to an association, the wonderful Association Orfee (http://association-orfee.forumactif.com/). These five dogs will all go to foster families where they will be assessed and more importantly LOVED before either staying or moving on to their new homes.

The lucky dogs were Griffi and Griffo (a brother and sister who have been at the refuge for 18 months), and youngsters Flocon, Badens and Cadbury. I will tell you more about this tomorrow or Monday, when I have news and photos from Rebecca and James, who took the dogs all the way to Limoges (thanks guys!). So far all I know is that collection went well, which is good enough for now!

Two other dogs hitched a ride to Limoges, Jewel, the little one-eyed Chihuahua, who was in foster care with Valerie and has been homed thanks to Doglinks (thanks to you both!) and also Poody, a tiny Podenco who is being fostered pending adoption thanks to June, a levrier-loving friend of the SPA.

But that is not all, two more adoptions took place today; firstly we said goodbye to Ibiza, the French bulldog/yorkie cross of 3 months who has been living in the cat house where she was dwarfed by many of the inmates.

Then finally an amazing adoption. Of course they are all amazing as far as the dog is concerned, but this was very special and a fair few tears were shed. Former Urgent Appeal Calvin finally found a home!  He has been at the refuge since 5th October 2011. That is over two years! Everyone saw him and just thought “hunt dog”. But in fact he had lived in an apartment with cats until the death of his owner. Finally someone has noticed this lovely boy and at six and a half years old, his life can restart. He knew what was happening and jumped up to say goodbye to us all with a huge smile on his face.

So today was quite simply wonderful! Thank you to Orfee and thanks to all the employees and volunteers for their efforts today. GO TEAM CARCASSONNE!!!

The Lucky Orfee Five (plus Poody)









Jewel- adopted








Ibiza- adopted













And  last but by no means least CALVIN. After more than 2 years at the SPA!