A couple of reservations at the refuge today, but you know my golden rule, so you will just have to wait and see who which dogs have found new homes !
I thought it might be useful to tell you a bit about the Club Canin, Carcassonne, with whom the SPA has a fruitful and on-going partnership. Both Carole, the SPA secretary, and Melissa, one of the employees, are trainers there. Melissa trains puppies on Wednesday mornings and Carole takes a class for adult dogs on Tuesday evenings. However there are many other classes available, including agility, general obedience and education.
Thanks to the Club President, Rene, every dog adopted from the SPA has the right to two free lessons at the Club. Many people take advantage of this offer, and most see the benefits and stay on afterwards.
A typical class with Carole will start with a walk so that the dogs can meet each other (off the lead, if possible, and it is mostly possible, as even “runners” often prefer to stay with the pack). We then do some general socialisation training such as forming a line and getting the dogs to weave in and out of the other dogs. We then teach the dogs different positions, sit and stay, and the all-important recall. We often go behind a small shed, leaving our dogs to wait for us. This builds up their trust that we will return. Exercises depend very much on the ability of the dogs and the mix on the evening, and the classes suit all abilities and vary from week to week.
I go with my dog, Bella whom I adopted from the SPA some 3 years ago. She had been badly beaten and the first time I took her to the Club, she bit Carole. Oops! Admittedly at the time she didn’t know Carole, but it was a bit embarrassing, to say the least. However it is thanks to Bella that I met Carole and a few weeks later, after a bit of coaxing, Carole became a SPA volunteer and eventually an employee.
I particularly enjoy the courses, as it is great seeing ex- SPA dogs. Last night I saw Handsome, who is now called Dyson. And I have seen numerous other old friends there, learning good dog behaviour and, most important in my opinion, being socialised. For many new owners it is the first time they have let their new dogs off the lead. The Club territory is vast, and is completely enclosed. There are several parks with agility courses set up, and in winter flood lights are available. There are even two indoor halls in case it rains.
These halls have also been used for SPA fundraising events. A very successful Spring Market was held last year, and we are tentatively planning a Doggy Olympics in October, as well as a book sale, complete with our own dedicated catering van, run by Lisa and Andrew! Watch this space.
Ultimately we and the Club have the same goal; healthy and happy dogs. Well-educated dogs are less likely to be abandoned at the refuge and new owners can discuss any behavioural problems they may have and work through these with qualified trainers. Other Clubs are available, naturally, but for me the SPA and the CCC make a fabulous partnership.
The Club is located on the Route de Bram at the Stade Gilbert Benausse. Visit their site (which consists of photos and documents that you can download) at http://ccc.quarante-deux.me/ or just pop in! The Club is open most of the day!