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Author Archives: Jane Hartley

Clara’s Story

Life after1As new retirees currently living in France with our four year old Jack Russell, it seemed an ideal time to adopt another dog. After making enquiries we found the SPA Carcassonne, the best & most regularly updated website in the area, in our opinion.

An on line romance

We had already decided that we would prefer a younger female dog to join our family. From the information on the website several dogs caught our eye so we telephoned and made an appointment to visit. There are so many deserving dogs at the SPA, it would be easy to adopt half a dozen!

All we know about Clara is that she was abandoned at the gate with her brother and at just over a year old were potentially unwanted (unsold) puppies? She was quite ill at first with a stomach upset so couldn’t come out to meet us straight away but once we saw her it was love at first sight. So with an open day coming up we reserved Clara on the spot just in case she caught someone else’s eye!

Our second visit was to introduce the two dogs & to check their compatibility. They were quite neutral towards each other, no apparent problems although when she tried to lick him he didn’t look too impressed! We made the decision to adopt there and then & having completed the paperwork she was ours.

Green eyed monsters

We knew it would take time & patience to welcome this abandoned puppy into our home, so we tried to slowly introduce them and avoid any confrontation. At first all seemed OK, both dogs were accepting of each other & played in the garden. However, there soon started to be an element of jealously, Clara was obviously desperate for our affection and tried to push Jackson out of the way and growled at him when he came near us or wanted to sit on our laps. Bedtime was a struggle over who was top dog and we had to separate them.

The next day it all escalated, they attacked each other over their food bowls even though we had fed them separately, they totally locked onto each other and we had difficult prising them apart. Jackson bit Clara’s ear and she bit his lip, they drew blood, really got quite nasty. There were subsequent fights over and at one point it took a dousing with a bucket of water to separate them!  During those first few days it was so upsetting to see them both so hostile towards each other. We were even having doubts that the adoption was ever going to work but were determined not to give up.

The team at the SPA were really supportive and on hand with good advice &, advising us how to look for & remove any “triggers”. Another piece of good advice was to encourage positive behaviours to make them a “team” such as walking them side by side & doing basic training together.

From a health point of view, Clara’s stitches became infected and on closer examination our vet also noticed that she had a lump (trauma) at the base of her rib cage, probably from being hit or kicked. We were asked to monitor it & thankfully it disappeared within a few weeks.

Clara didn’t arrive without issues.  She is still a little nervous, suffers from separation anxiety (we are careful not to leave her on her own for very long) has problems with toilet training – never mind she is now nearly two years old it has been totally back to basics! Car journeys & general socialisation with other dogs off lead was also an initial problem. BUT nothing is insurmountable and a bit of love & patience goes a long way!

Together forever terriers

So here we are 6 months on, with our new family, Clara is such a sweet affectionate dog who just wants to be loved & cuddled. She wakes us up every morning with big licks and loves to have her tummy rubbed! We’ve had a fabulous summer together , both dogs are now best of friends and absolutely inseparable and it’s lovely to see how their body language mirrors each other when they are playing or sleeping. Jackson is so happy with his new “petite copine” and now we can’t imagine life without Clara, our beautiful rescue puppy who never stops smiling!

 

Benson

Benson2I can still remember the day we brought Benson home. My partner James and I had just finished an afternoon of dog walking at the SPA Carcassonne. Rowan, the former President of the refuge, told us to go look at the ‘ball of fluff’ that had just been brought in by the Gendarmes. We strolled over to the office to see Carole, the refuge secretary, holding onto a frightened, thin, and grubby little dog …his owner had been hospitalised and neglected to mention that she had a dog at home. Three days without food and water had passed by the time he was found. He was traumatised and needed a quiet place to recuperate from his ordeal. James and I agreed to foster him until his 10 days ‘pound time’ was over. I held him in my arms on the drive home, reassuringly stroking him. He stunk of stale cigarettes….so we named him Benson!

It was not long before we realised that Benson had been mistreated by his former owner. Over the next 10 days, he slowly put on weight and became more comfortable around us. We took him everywhere; he loved meeting other dogs and especially loved been taken out for walks. After careful introductions to our other resident animals, my three houserabbits, we decided that we would adopt Benson. This little Coton de Tulear had stolen my heart.

A few months passed and Benson’s confidence around us grew, but the realities of both his lack of socialisation and mistreatment became apparent. Benson was fearful of certain people and exhibited fear aggression. He cowered at the sight of a broom or at a hand raised anywhere near him (unintentionally of course). Living isolated in an apartment meant that certain outside noise absolutely terrified him. We were at our wits end; seeing our little chap petrified by certain people and things was stressful…for both him and us! On advice from Rowan and Moira, we decided to enrol Benson in dog training classes at a bilingual club in Azille. Shirley, the trainer, agreed that he needed socialisation and helped us to develop strategies to cope with his anxieties. Shirley, who has two rescue dogs herself, explained that Benson would be gently socialised with other people whilst learning new things and making new friends, both human and canine.

Slowly but surely, Benson has become a different dog. Although he is still fearful of certain people and noise, he is certainly less anxious in those situations. We now know that there is no ‘quick fix’ for anxiety issues, and he will always have insecurities. We want him to feel safe and secure and try to manage situations where he feels threatened. A rescue dog is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. It has been a long, tough journey but I would not give him up for the world. As James puts it, he is our ‘dear little chap’.

Benson1

Pollux

poolux apres le refugeWe wanted a dog but it wasn’t supposed to happen until I joined my husband in full time retirement in our house in France. However the sight of a scruffy, hairy Griffon Korthal cross called Pollux on the SPA Carcassonne website changed all that!

What a difference a year has made to both our lives and his……

We collected our handsome boy from the SPA in Carcassonne on 25th September last year and, despite never having seen him in the flesh before, fell immediately in love with him. Moira and Rowan took care of all the adoption process over the phone and by e-mail. So, with the paperwork completed and farewell tears shed by volunteers, we began the long drive back to the Lot Valley and Pollux’s new home.

Yes, we kept the name Pollux, which always causes great hilarity amongst our English speaking friends, although it is actually the French equivalent of Dougal from the children’s TV programme “The Magic Roundabout”. It is, however, a popular dogs’ name in France and many of our French friends and neighbours talk fondly of their own dogs who were also called Pollux. In fact, more people know his name than know ours and he often gets a “Bonjour Pollux” from the local bar as we pass.

I can’t say that the whole experience has been a breeze and sometimes it has been quite hard but with a lot of patience we have all settled down to a happy life together.

When he first arrived home, Pollux preferred to stay outside on the terrace and only came into the house to sleep at night. He had to be coaxed into eating and practically fed by hand to get him to eat anything – so different from now when his food is wolfed down in less than 5 seconds. On the positive side, he did sleep through the night without any crying or barking and was housetrained. Well I say housetrained, he did have a problem in that he peed every time he was excited or frightened, which in those first few months happened very frequently. We have since been told that this is a well-known problem with Springer Spaniels, so maybe that’s who his dad was. Anyway, he is getting so much better with that little problem and it is now safe for us to go upstairs and come back down without having to stand with our legs spread to avoid the unavoidable excited wee and yet another change of clothes.

Pollux was, and still is to some degree, wary of men, sticks and big gloves. We don’t know what his background was but there does seem to have been some sort of ill-treatment at some point.

He also didn’t like the broom or vacuum cleaner but he is getting better with them as he realises what they are and they are not going to hurt him. People always ask us what language we speak to a French rescue dog in, well we have always spoken to him in English but he certainly understands the word biscuit in many different languages now.

As the weeks and months go by we are always learning new things and have recently enjoyed our first seaside holiday together. Pollux really loved the beach and the sea and impressed us by lying down in restaurants so that we could actually eat out.

He is a real comedian and can make us laugh out loud with his antics and funny ways. He is also very affectionate and loves having a cuddle, leaning in hard against our legs or snuggling up on the sofa to watch television. He is quite selective with his television likes and dislikes and has taken to growling at Prince Charles, Ed Balls and Alexander the meerkat on the TV advert which now means we have to distract him whenever they come on.

We are so pleased to have adopted him and he has brought us a lot of love, happiness and laughter over this past year. Thank you Dog Rescue Carcassonne for bringing Pollux into our lives.

Lazar| LL332

Lazar german shepherd crossLarge, Young, Male  

I was at the SPA when Lazar was brought in. His owner cried. Divorce had left him and hence his dog homeless and there was no prospect of a change in circumstance to allow him to keep his dog. Lazar was born in April 2013 and is a lovely German shepherd cross. He has had no training, but we are working on that. Lazar spends some time every afternoon in the office with dog trainer Carole, where he is learning his manners. He is getting used to people approaching him and is learning not to jump up to greet them. He is turning into a lovely dog, and I have a feeling that with relatively little work, he really will be man’s best friend.

 

 

Contact SPA Carcassonne about this dog

 

  • Needs basic training
  • Good with other dogs
  • Friendly and sociable

Urgent Appeal: Falco

falcoIn the normal course of events Falco would not be at the refuge. He had a young owner who loved him and walked him. However she lives with her parents and they made her life and that of the dog very difficult, so he has ended up at the SPA. 

Being a black labrador is not a good thing for SPA dogs, however Falco has youth on his side. He was born in December 2012, so is just 18 months old. This is barely out of puppyhood as far as labs are concerned, as owners of the breed will know. Falco is fine with other dogs, he has shared with several since his arrival at the SPA at the end of March. He has some basic training and we know that he used to be housetrained, although he may have forgotten some of his manners. He will quickly relearn, though, as he is a very bright dog.

As labs go, Falco is of the leggy variety so is probably not a purebred, although he is very elegant. He is fine on the lead and is good with children. He would live quite happily as a second dog or as a singly too. Ideally a garden would be great to play in. Like most labs he loves chasing a ball and generally having fun.

Please help this lovely dog find a home.

Taser | LL385

taserMedium, Young, Male  

Taser is a brindle and white boxer who arrived at the SPA in August 2014. At the time he was a bit imid, but he has changed a lot since being at the SPA. Hardly surprising when you consider that he has spent so much time there! Taser is good with female dogs but not with cats. He is strong on the lead but soon calms down, and is a very playful dog who would benefit from some training and an experienced home. He was born in December 2010.

Contact SPA Carcassonne about this dog

  • Good with other dogs

Everybody loves to be rescued

everybody lovesWe wanted to write this note for several reasons

1. to thank the wonderful folks that care for the animals at Carcassonne SPA 

2. to admit that adopting a dog can be hard work

3. to explain how glad we are that we did

We are a couple in our 40s living in a spacious French house surrounded by the wonderful Languedoc countryside.  Neither of us would describe ourselves as “dog-obsessed” – but we did love one particular dog, a Weimaraner who died in January (very suddenly aged almost 9) from bloat.  The big empty space he left in our lives was ghastly.  Life just wasn’t the same without those extra feet.

In the first instance we had no plans to get another dog and we donated his food and treats to the SPA and thought perhaps we might see a new 4-legged friend to bring home.  I liked a young spaniel cross but my partner just couldn’t feel a bond and we returned to our large empty dog-less space empty-handed.  Anyone who has owned a pedigree will know how attached and familiar you can become to the traits of a particular breed.  So at the end of February a new Weim pup entered our lives but we continued to check the SPA Facebook page on a daily basis “just in case”.  We had talked many times about having 2 dogs and now we had the chance to make it happen.

4 weeks later we spotted a shaggy black and white dog (named Vania by the staff) on the Facebook page – about a year old, with hardly information about her past.  I was passing through Carcassonne and called in to see her just after receiving the devastating news my mother had just died.  As fate had it, that small(ish) scruffy mutt happened to be on a walk as I walked in, she sat calmly on my foot almost as if she knew I had come specially to see her and would one day take her to her forever home.

My partner later visited the SPA and took Vania for a couple of short walks while I was away, and it was rapidly decided we wanted to bring her home – but there were complications in adopting a rescue dog so soon.  We could not do it whilst having a young (not fully inoculated) pup at home.  So we found a friend that “might” take her for some of the time but only on the condition the dog was flea-free and child-friendly. 

All these circumstances were definitely not straightforward but thanks to an amazing network of “SPA helpers” a lovely foster family agreed to take Vania for an extra fortnight to help us out.  During this period they fed, walked and wormed her (she was riddled with them), and took the time to update us on how she was adapting to a home life beyond bars.  Vania then went to stay with our friend round the corner so we could introduce her to our pup on neutral ground – which as it turns out was barely necessary.  “Mattie” as we have named her, played and snuggled up with our pup straightaway and has done so to this day. 

What we had not bargained on, was waking up (for what seemed like weeks) to a shaggy unknown dog covered in its own diarrhoea and a shoe-chewer terrified of most men, hair brushes or people coming downstairs.   A new set of challenges presented themselves.  We are still working on the hair brush phobia, but the other issues have largely been resolved by plenty of cuddles and exercise, some very basic training, along with a change of diet and a lot of socialisation with people and other dogs.    Mattie has been such a hit that we have even been offered money to take her off our hands!    She grows more confident in her surroundings by the day, is boisterously playful but still rather unpredictable and there are very occasional toilet-training accidents indoors.  Her history is a mystery so we just don’t know why she reacts to certain things the way she does.  It’s taken 8 months of adjustment and the learning curve is continual although certainly not as steep.  

To anyone that has lost a special dog, or is considering a new adoption, we’d never say it’s easy, comparisons will be made, what works for one dog probably won’t for another.   But the foster families, the follow-up advice from the SPA, a lot of patience and industrial amounts of kitchen roll have helped us along the way.  Mattie now seems to “smile” her way through life – she’s great fun, very entertaining and incredibly affectionate. She has definitely found a place in our hearts and we can’t imagine her living with anyone else.  

Our friends say they’d like to find a dog as lovely as Mattie, and we just say go and see the dogs at Carcassonne SPA!

As a side note, Mattie’s influence on the Weimaraner is interesting. He started out as quite a handful, very confident and potentially dominant. After several months play-fighting with Mattie, he is very funny, very cuddly and sociable with anyone, no matter how many legs they have. She has taught him a lot, and in return she is picking up basic obedience by watching him – so both characters are balancing each other well and we feel lucky to have two such lovely dogs. 

 

Maddie’s Story

 

MadieWe set off from our house in Esperaza,  on a very hot August afternoon to visit Malaga (now Maddie) a young Griffon Bleu de Gascogne who had been abandoned by the Chasse and was being cared for at the SPA in Carcassonne. On arrival we waited for about ten minutes behind an English family that seemed to be very excited about getting a dog from the refuge.  After they left we met Moira  who set off to get Malaga from her kennel.  I was quite taken aback as to how terrified she was of us and was concerned she would break out of her collar in an attempt to get away from us.  Moira quickly suggested that she take her to an enclosed field where we could try and get to know her.  She was so terrified she just ran around the perimeter of the fence and we went and sat in the shade under a tree and had a good old doggy chat.

I remember giggling at the dog in the next field who was playing with a rubber kong in a paddling pool, very scruffy looking and covered in mud.  ( turned out it was the dog that was going to the family before us in the queue….Pitchou).  He was having a great time in the water and about to go off on a new adventure to his new family.  Malaga however was still circling the park keeping well away.  We continued to chat about the dogs and after about 20 mins she came and sat beside me.  Decision made, she was coming to Scotland.  Moira very kindly arranged transport for her and when she arrived at our house she was still quite traumatised, constantly circling… she was too scared to come in the back door and she was so thin she could run through the bars of our garden gate.

However two months down the line with a lot of patience and lots of cuddles she has transformed into quite a rowdy but extremely lovable dog.  Very boisterous first thing in the morning throwing her toys around and galloping around.  She loves to chase the rabbits round our (large) garden.  She comes back 99% of the time to a gundog whistle even though she’s a hound! She sits (for a bit of sausage) and walks relatively well on the lead.  She loves to go walks and is keen to meet other people but still is a bit wary of strangers if they try to speak to her.  Every day she is getting better though.  A lot of the credit for her quick transformation must go to my lovely two Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens who are very relaxed and calm and have shown her the way – oh and yes the hubby too.  I do think however they were secretly hoping that she was only staying for the weekend.  She still needs to meet more people and experience more things so we have decided to enrol her at a local training class.  Maddie is a joy to live with, very affectionate, very inquisitive, very funny and happy to please.  We are very lucky to have her and we must thank all the good folks at the SPA for the fantastic work they do.

A Shaggy Dog Tale

1382921_10151682666882286_415897506_nIn June this year my beloved Staffie cross died at age 13 years old after a short illness. He was feisty, loyal, unpredictable and had aggression issues, disliking many people and other animals in equal measure. One of several dog behaviourists we hired to help him uttered the immortal words “this dog is not a monster” this was about 30 seconds before Dylan bit him! Not his finest hour and I cried for days wondering why I had ended up with the Hannibal Lecter of the dog world. So, his passing was a mixed blessing and I had no intention of getting another dog…..

I had enough on my plate already, part of me saying we still had Ruby, a Braque Allemande cross and chasse reject, adopted from my local SPA 5 years ago, who is skittish and terrified of gunshots and then there are our two elderly cats, a rabbit and various poultry, but then the other part of me kept nagging “but there is a bit of room left at the Inn”(and clearly I am the sort who would have turned Mary and Joseph away but found a room for the donkey)!

So via the internet I found the SPA Carcassonne site, our local SPA doesn’t have one, and doesn’t extend a particularly warm welcome even to those wanting to adopt a dog and I was immediately drawn in by the warmth of the welcome and how well the site was presented, showing a lovely complicity between the staff and the dogs. I started to check the site regularly to get updates on adoptions and arrivals and shared in the triumphs and disappointments. I felt that the photos and the snapshots of the dogs characters, with a bit of the dog’s history wherever possible, was a great starting point.

And then I saw him, Pitchou, a scruffy, hairy, mutt of 8 years old, abandoned due to a divorce by people who had had him from a puppy. Boy did that story resonate with me and pulled me straight back to my childhood. When my parents divorced Imm not sure either were that keen on keeping the children so the dog stood no chance and I got home from school to a dogless house to be told that the dog had been sent to a farm! “But what does a sausage dog do on a farm we wailed”, “nips the cows heels to round them up into the sheds”, came the reply. Game Over for poor Simon and it was not the poor dogs fault!

This put me on Pitchou’s ‘side’ from the start and in the SPA write up the word SOCIABLE leapt out at me, he was good with other dogs and very laid back. This really was music to my ear and it all sounded too good to be true, but I figured that as the same family had had him for 8 years then he most likely was just that!

I made further enquiries by phone and e.mail and the lovely Moira was always on hand to answer my queries and offer good help and advice. I loved the fact that she was never pushy and just let me make decisions and ruminate at my own pace. In some ways having had Dylan I was a bit afraid of taking on a new dog and may have been trying to put obstacles in my own way! The big test however, and non negotiable, was whether Pitchou was good with cats, so Moira organised a cat test and I was assured that he was totally disinterested in any feline charms!

It was important that the whole family were on board with the adoption so the 4 of us set off together on a roasting hot July day to meet our new chum. Pitchou, despite having had a recent wash and brush up by Moira, still looked rather bedraggled but was an instant hit with my husband who wanted to rush out and get him a dog-kerchief and rename him Banjo (..err..No!) My younger daughter waxed lyrical about hairstyles, bobbles and grooming so I tried to remain objective and calm so that I would be strong enough to say ‘no’ if necessary.

We took him out of his kennel and into one of the little parks and that is when he dropped his ‘little old man act’ and showed his true colours racing around, bounding up and down, flinging his kong ball everywhere and jumping in and out of a bowl of water, he couldn’t have done more to attract attention if he had started high kicking with a cane and top hat! It was almost like he knew it was a now or never moment and the deal was done! So he was reserved and taken for all his jabs and to be snipped and he was collected in August!

Well what can I say, from day one he has been simply wonderful and has settled in beautifully. He is friendly, funny, gentle and has clearly been well trained as he knows all the basic commands, walks well on the lead, has excellent recall and has not tried to sit on the furniture. He even snores very sweetly so, what’s not to like!! He and Ruby rub along well together though her nose was put out of joint to start with and she was very ‘ice maiden’ for the first few weeks, considering herself to be Yves St Laurent to his Primark, but his steadiness of character has won her over. A real case of Lady and The Tramp!

He has been to my local vet for a meet and greet and behaved impeccably. He is lively but not demanding and loves to walk, but then I’d never thought of him as being ‘old’ at 8, because he isn’t and as the vet said “He is a flower who has just opened”…aaah…sweet!

All he needed was a bit of kindness and a second chance and we consider ourselves enormously fortunate to have found him.

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My Fostering Experience

Fostering2This article was written by Edith a volunteer fosterer for the SPA

Short-term fostering is needed from time to time for a number of reasons.

A dog may be recovering from surgery or illness and need a quiet place to convalesce, or just need somewhere to stay while waiting to be collected by his adopter.

The SPA is a haven for many dogs that have been found wandering and alone, but for others it is just too traumatic and confusing and not the best place to be. A dog who stops eating or just cries all the time will not be at his best when people come looking for a dog so a foster home can help to lift his spirits and get him ready for his new life.

My story began with an adoption and then changed direction somewhat.

A while ago I adopted a little ex-chasse Fauve from the refuge who had been found thin and dirty, wandering around a village in the Corbières. It turned out he was about ten years old with quite a number of health problems but he cleaned up well and was a happy little soul, loved his food, his cushion on the settee and adored to be out walking. We had quite a few worrying incidents and trips to the vet which didn’t seem too bad at first but unfortunately after only three months his lumbar vertebrae collapsed completely and he was in such pain with no hope of recovery that the vet and I made the only decision we could. I cried for days. He’d touched my heart so much. After a couple of months I decided to offer to do some fostering for the refuge which would keep me in contact with dogs but without the total commitment (and heartache) of ownership.

Toufu was our first foster dog. He had been attacked by 2 errant Doberman dogs and lost a very large lump of his thigh. The initial choices in the town where he was picked up by the police were either to put him to sleep or to amputate his leg. But the SPA vet did a wonderful job to save him and so he began the long weeks of recovery to get skin to grow across the raw wound. He came to us when the circle of bare flesh was still almost 4 cm across and he wore a permanent lampshade collar to stop him licking it. With a daily application of ointment the wound slowly covered over with new skin and after seven weeks he was ready to leave for his new home in the Lot, being made a fuss of by the children on the campsite where he now lives with the owners.

Tilly came next while she waited for her new family to come from the UK to pick her up. She arrived straight from the vet after her spaying operation and a spot-on treatment for me to give her next morning as they had discovered she had ticks – the sort that reproduce and multiply on the dog. (Well I hadn’t heard of them either!!) Apparently her new cell-mate had brought them in and both dogs being very shaggy they were difficult to spot while they were spreading. I spent the next few days picking off hundreds of “plombs”, no exaggeration, still alive 3 days after the spot-on treatment. Fortunately Tilly loved being groomed and just lay there while I picked them off and dropped them into a jar of water. The beautiful, quiet, unassuming Tilly now lives in the south of England with her new doggy pals and a doting owner.

Next we had Tim, who was very upset at being in the refuge and was going downhill fast. He had been abandoned by his owners (after 8 years of family life) because of a house move or divorce or something. He seemed to have given up and just cried all the time in his pen. He proved to be intelligent and obedient and a pleasure to have and was soon enjoying life again. We only had him for 3 weeks when he was spotted on dog:links and was adopted by a lovely couple from the Vendee and now he is the happy companion of their 2 Labradors.

Perdita, a dainty little whippet cross was also very distressed at the refuge and had stopped eating. She cried every time she heard a car pull away and they think she must have been driven some distance away from home and dumped as they drove off without her. She was lovely, no bother at all. She soon got her appetite back and became a loving companion. a good little watch-dog and brilliant at catching flies. We had her for about seven weeks and now she lives near the sea in the Charente-Maritime.

During her time with us Othello (a handsome border collie cross) came to join us. He proved to be just the perfect dog for us and we decided to keep him so now Tello is ours. He gets on with everyone and loves having doggy friends to stay which means we can carry on fostering. He really missed Perdita when she left us but he loved Alexia just as much when she came along. The tiny setter cross of eleven months had obviously never lived in a house, but had probably spent her days in a pen with other chasse dogs, so she needed house-training. She was very intelligent and eager to please and was quite a character. She was with us for two months before going to another foster family when we went on holiday. She had a wonderful time there and now has a permanent home in the UK with a young family who adore her.

At the moment we are looking after Titou, a seven months old Labrador cross who just needs a safe place to stay for a while. He is going to be a big handsome boy and so well mannered and obedient. He’s a joy to have around. He adores water. He is doing his best to get Tello to swim instead of just splashing about in the shallows but they have a great time together whatever they are doing.

If anyone out there is thinking of fostering I can recommend it. It’s not as tying as owning a dog if you are away a lot, and by using the SPA vet there are no vet bills to pay. You will have a canine companion to talk to and get you out walking every day. AND you will be performing a very worth-while service. You can answer questions from prospective adopters truthfully to help them decide on the right dog for them. Dogs do not behave in concrete boxes as they would in a house so home-life experience is a great step to a permanent family.

Let’s face it you can never be sure what you are getting when you adopt a rescue dog. (Tello has the intelligence of a border collie and the calm, gentle good nature of a lab. There are probably a few more breeds in the mix as well but whatever they are they have worked brilliantly.) The same goes for most rescue dogs. They are a real mixture and remain a mystery until you get to know them away from the refuge.

People have said to me “I don’t know how you do it. How can you bear to part with them when the time comes.” Of course there are a few pangs when I say goodbye, a lump in the throat every time, but there is pleasure and a bit of pride too as I wave them off to start the rest of their lives. (A bit like when your small child starts school and you realise it’s the end of something special but the beginning of something bigger). I do worry until I hear they have settled okay though, and emails and photos about their progress are always welcome.

But this poem says it all really!Fostering