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Author Archives: Jane Hartley


Todd Life after the refugeHello SPA & DRC-followers,

As promised, we are sending you our “life after the refuge” story about our big love Todd.

Todd has been living for more than 3 years at the DRC before he left for Animal Trust in Melle, Belgium, where he has been living for 7 months.

I met him a few days after his arrival at Animal Trust in October 2014. He became my favorite walking buddy and I walked with him every weekend. After a few months, he also joined our family on some trips to the sea and other places to walk.

When Eline and Kevin told us (beginning of may 2015) that Todd’s chances to be adopted were very low, and that he probably would return to the SPA, because of his negative behavior towards other people, our heart really broke…. We talked about adopting him at home. Both of us, Jan & me and the three boys, decided that we would adopt Todd.

After preparing our house to his arrival, Todd arrived at this new and final home on 29.05.2015.

Although we always were convinced that we would never have a dog (we are real cat freaks, we have 11 cats), Todd certainly made the difference…. We are very glad that Todd has chosen us to be his friends.

After 8 months, we can confirm that we didn’t regret the adoption of Todd for a minute!

He has changed a lot during those months living at our house, although we don’t have any experience having and educating a dog.

He loves his different daily walks. He almost joins us everywhere, which he loves very much. He looks sooooooo sad when he has to stay at home for only a few hours when it’s not possible to take him with us. But, he is very calm when he is alone at home!

In December, we had our fist holiday together with Todd. We rented a holiday house in the Netherlands, at the sea side, Todd’s favorite place! It just was a great holiday for all of us.

He doesn’t like the taste of sea water, but every time he tries it again. He is running around on the beach and jumping like a puppy, so nice to see. He even sometimes goes into the water!

During the last weeks, he is getting more and more social towards other dogs. We didn’t really expect him ever to do so… He even has already been playing with some other dogs!

The last months, weeks, he also started to understand the concept of playing!! He likes playing with a tennis ball and even already understands that he has to bring back the ball to us to throw it again.

Brushing Todd still is a project to continue, but he is taking big steps. We already even (sometimes) are able to brush at his back, side, tail,…!!! Only 2/3 brushes at 1 time before growling, but this really is a very big step for him!! We are so very proud of our boy !!!

We have the experience that Todd is a very smart dog, he learns very fast and his memory is amazing! Probably his large memory capacity also is the reason he still remembers negative things out of his life before the refuge.

Although we are trying to learn Todd things, we all accept him as he is, he loves all the five of us and we love him a lot!!!!!

  Todd Life after the refuge




Urgent Appeal: Autumn

Automne griffon crossAutumn is one of those dogs that can break your heart. She is a griffon nivernais, which is a breed often used for hunting in France, but which make fabulous pets. Autumn in typical of the kind of dog we get at the SPA; basically failed hunters. This girl is scared of her own shadow and during her four years on this earth, seems to have seen nothing. When she first arrived, Autumn shared her kennel with a very young, very bouncy dog. She was a bit overwhelmed and hid at the back of the kennel. Since moving to share with a much bigger, steadier dog she has settled down well, and enjoys watching the world go by. She plays like a puppy when she sees a tennis ball, which is very endearing. However she hates being on a lead and spins round in panic. Autumn is looking for a kind, patient owner with a well-enclosed garden. She would benefit from having another dog to learn from, but this is not essential. She was born in November 2011, is vaccinated, identified and sterilised. Her adoption fee is €170.

Adopting a tripawd dog

 A few months ago I received a call from SPA Carcassonne. They had taken in a tiny Podenca girl who had a very bad injury to one of her back legs as a result of being shot – accidentally or on purpose we will never know … Little girl couldn’t tell us what happened!
As a result of her ” accident” she had to have her leg amputated , which, although traumatic meant that this wee lass would be a tripawd but would survive!
She recovered very well and thrived under the supervision of the vet and being hand fed chicken !
After much discussion it was decided she would come to live with my gang of Galgas and Podencos as a foster in order to build her confidence and find her a forever home !
We arranged to collect her from a meeting point halfway between Carcassonne and Poitiers on 18th June last year.
What I saw when she arrived shocked and surprised me …. She was so tiny… 5.5kgs.
She looked terrified as I picked her up and cuddled her …I knew then she would never be adopted by anyone other than me!
We decided to call her Daisy and she flourished like a flower does when fed and watered. The first few weeks were busy making sure she didn’t get injured by my ruffians, I needn’t have worried , they were all aware she was delicate and respected she needed special attention and also hand feeding her … Did she milk that one !!!!
Posing like a diva waiting for me to make sure she ate.
One morning I heard a very pathetic yelp and discovered Daisy had a voice .. That voice has got louder and is now a full blown Podenco bark.
Daisy progressed extremely well – house training was slow but she soon realized that indoors was not acceptable.
She came with us to visit friends to socialize her in preparation for re-homing ?
We took her on walks with our gang which tired her quite quickly but she gained a lot of strength and built up muscle in her back leg.
On a walk one day we took the plunge and allowed her freedom to run off lead with the other dogs … Quelle surprise!! She ran as fast , if not faster than a couple of my Galgas and enjoyed exploring the fields … Typical Podenco , nose to the ground sniffing everything in sight… But she has excellent recall …
She amazes us with her energy levels and we laugh so much every day at her antics…she takes a running flying leap to get into sofas and beds, forgets she’s missing a leg and dashes in when called and goes sliding across the tiles because she’s taken a corner too quickly!
You may have guessed .. She became a fully fledged member of our family … We just could not imagine letting her go… She has made us laugh everyday .. She’s a delight to have around.. Noisy, funny cheeky Daisy …
7 months on she now weighs 8 kg… Loves her food … So comical watching her trying to balance on her one leg to reach her dinner as it’s being prepared.
She is best friends with my little male Podenco Ocaso and has lots of play fighting with Mona my Galga , who till Daisy arrived was the baby!
Adopt a tripawd – yes- they don’t know they are different and special ..Thank you so much SPA Carcassonne for letting Daisy come into our lives !!!




New Owner



Life after the refugeSo you bring your new boy home, excited to show him off, introduce to the rest of the family. Walk him round the village so everyone can meet him and give him a little cuddle. Oh how wonderful our life is going to be. EXCEPT your boy doesn’t walk well on a lead, pulls like a train in every direction (except the one you want) and then has an epileptic fit on the end of his lead if he encounters another dog on his walk. That didn’t exactly go to plan. So you bring your new boy home and take him into the garden to play with the array of toys you spent hours drooling over in the pet shop. You hummed and hawed whether to buy the jumbo tug rope or the squeaky hamburger or the large ball. But your boy is so special so you buy them all. EXCEPT your boy doesn’t play with toys. No matter which one you try and tempt him with, he simply isn’t interested. That didn’t exactly go to plan. So you bring your new boy home and show him his great new bed. Willow basket with a lovely plump cushion inside. It cost a fortune but you only need one and it is for life. And your boy is worth it. EXCEPT your boy won’t go in his bed, preferring the sofa or the cosy armchair in the corner. And if he does go into his bed he simply chews the bedding and the bed! That didn’t exactly go to plan. So you bring your new boy home confident that he is the perfect dog for you. You need to go out but can’t take him with you so you leave him at home with an array of treats and toys to keep him occupied. You make sure that you are gone for the very shortest of times as after all this is the first time you’re leaving him behind. EXCEPT when you get back, no matter how short a time you were away the house is in total chaos. The bin is spilt over with its contents strew everywhere. Flower pots knocked over leaving the lounge looking more like a garden than a home. Your favourite boots now resemble sandals where they have been chewed to bits. And any food left out (even in its packaging) has been removed from the kitchen and has been either eaten or shredded. To add insult to injury none of the treats have been eaten nor the toys destroyed. That too didn’t exactly go to plan So being the new owner may not always be the ideal that you had in your mind. Very seldom will you bring home your dog and get it all 100% right from the off. There is a period of adjustment from the time your boy leaves the Refuge to the time he understands that you are now his forever home, that could be weeks, months or even longer. It all depends the age of the dog, how long he has been in the Refuge and of course, most importantly, his previous history. Be realistic about setting goals otherwise you risk being quickly disappointed and eventually disillusioned. So if you’re teaching your boy to sit and he almost does it – praise him. Don’t insist on doing it time and time again as he’ll only lose interest and you’ll feel as though you’ve failed. Also don’t try and do every thing at once like trying to teach your dog the basic commands, plus how to fetch a ball, etc. Its pressure for the both of you. You need to get your priorities sorted. If living out in the countryside what’s more important walking to heel on the lead or immediate and consistent recall when walked off the lead? If you have to leave your dog alone on a regular basis what’s more important teaching him to sit and stay or learn how to be on his own without destroying his home? And praise your boy every time he gets it right. Not only does he feel good but you too feel good about seeing his progress. But the single most important thing to do is to enjoy being with your dog – remember this is after all why you chose this special boy in the first place. His cute nose, his shiny eyes or just the way he smiles and wags his tail at you!
New owner2




Echo’s first year – progress report

Echo - Life after the refuge

It’s almost a year now since I adopted Echo and I thought I would let you have an update. Echo (also known as Doggy-Poo) has turned out to be an easy-going, well-behaved hound. “Hound” gives the clue to one problem area: recall. Though he makes no effort to escape, Echo is an opportunist and, once free to run, that’s what he does. He has (so far), always come back, sometimes after 10 minutes sometimes after four hours. Moira and DRC’s consultant trainer, Sharon, gave advice and reassurance. However, the problem remains that I have a hound with unreliable recall, who needs to run and a garden too small to meet that need. Echo’s fearfulness of strangers, crowds, noise and dominant male dogs is less severe than it used to be and building his confidence in other contexts (e.g. play and exercise), is helping to make him less fearful generally Echo recently visited a dog behaviourist, who concluded that he is a dog who needs to run long distances at high speed (I already knew that) and, if he has other dogs to run with, he will tend to stay with them rather than disappear over the horizon (I didn’t know that). He thought I shouldn’t treat this as a major problem and advocated a degree of risk-taking. Unfortunately, I can’t adopt another dog or two as lures. However, the more I allow Echo to run off lead, the better his recall is becoming and the more he chooses to stay closer to me, rather than running off out of sight and coming back when he feels ready to. This flies in the face of the usual recommendations not to allow a dog off lead until it has a solid recall. However, the alternative is to keep him a miserable prisoner until he’s too old to run. His recall on a 10 metre line has been close to 100% for ages, it just disappears when the line is unclipped. I now let him run freely somewhere fairly safe, like at the sports ground or on an open mountain top, but far enough from home so he’s not over-confident about finding his own way home after a 1 to 4 hour escapade. I try to do this most days and Echo is getting the idea that I allow him to run and meet other dogs, give him treats when he returns and then let him carry on running. Then, when I finally put him back on the lead, we go home and he gets his meal. We also do a circuit by the river, where he can scamper up and down the rocks and drink river water. I really enjoy watching him stretch out to race and his speed suggests there’s some whippet in the mix. I still worry when I watch a happy dog racing away from me, but it’s lovely to see a little black speck appear on the horizon and resolve itself into a happy dog racing back to me. Unfortunately, when he knows the walk is coming to an end, Echo disappears to chase cats in the nearby streets. I now know where his favourite cat lives, so I can go and collect him. Another achievement has been demonstrating that even a seven-year-old hound can learn to play. At first, he hadn’t a clue about playing with toys. He gets some of his meals in food-dispensing toys, to stop him eating too fast, and has developed new skills in manipulating, swiping and throwing them around using his paws and snout. He now loves playing with fluffy, squeaky toys and is even learning to retrieve a squeaky ball, though that only interests him in the garden. Perhaps he will eventually run to fetch a ball or frisbee elsewhere too. Santa Claus brought Echo an activity game, where he has to slide covers, open covers using levers etc. to get the hidden treats. This is now a favourite. He is gradually accumulating quite a lot of toys. Echo used to pull like a tractor on the lead, making alarming choking noises and might, in the past, have damaged his throat by pulling on a collar, so I started using a training harness and double-ended lead instead. Having two points of attachment confused him over which way to lean and so he had to balance himself. I also stopped or turned around each time he pulled. Now he trots nicely beside me on the lead. This did take quite a lot of time and effort to achieve. Particularly when adopting a mixed-breed, adult dog, you have to be prepared to find out about them gradually and not have too many pre-conceived ideas about the exact character of dog you want, but be prepared to accept the dog you adopted and put some effort into training and behaviour shaping, while being ready for things to change unexpectedly (e.g. Echo has now found his voice and barks and bays more than he used to, though not excessively). Some things were essential to me, like getting a dog that was house-trained and didn’t pull too hard on the lead (I have arthritis, so wanted a dog with max. 20 kg pulling power). The recall problem is manageable because, though I only have a small garden, I’m semi-retired and work from home and have suitable places for Echo to run fairly close by. If he had chewed and damaged furniture etc. that would have meant containment in non-vulnerable areas and training. I’m sure Echo would have been happier had he been adopted by someone with a large, enclosed garden/park and a couple of other dogs to play with. Fortunately, he isn’t capable of thinking about that and accepts life as it is. He seems happy and I am too. Yes, I’ve sometimes regretted not having got a golden retriever or a labrador, rather than a hound, but that only lasted until Echo returned from his latest escapade.





Urgent Appeal: The Oldies

At the moment, and just as winter is getting underway, the SPA has many older dogs. Some of them, like last week’s appeal, Kipnak, have been there for many months. Others, like Rosie and Larsouille, have just arrived.

There are many advantages to adopting an older dog. Firstly the adoption fee is reduced, and for just €80 you can have a fully vaccinated, sterilised and identified dog. You may worry about vet’s bills, but any medical problems will be explained to you before the dog leaves, (although none of our oldies have any medical issues), and in any case vets bills here are far lower than in the UK.

Older dogs are often far easier to look after. With age comes wisdom, and the very fact that these dogs have been at the SPA shows that they know that life can be hard. They are often very good at recognising when they are onto a good thing, and settle immediately to their new life.

They often have a kind of peace about them and can bring a calmness to a boisterous pack, or a focus to a family without dogs. Often requiring less exercise, an older dog can be a great companion for a less active family or elderly couple.

Please consider giving a home to one of our older dogs. They all have their own personalities and needs, but I am sure that we can find a perfect match for you and your lifestyle.

Urgent Appeal: Gege

gegeGege is our urgent appeal for no other reason than that he has been very unlucky. He was adopted but brought back 24 hours later as his new owner seemed to have an adverse physical reaction to him. Devastating for the poor dog, who had done nothing at all wrong.

During his brief time in his new home he was absolutely perfect; clean, calm, affectionate. Everything a dog should be, in fact. This is why we would like to help him find a home as quickly as possible. He arrived in May 2015, and as far as we are concerned he has spent more than enough time behind bars. To have freedom snatched away from his so quickly is just so unfair.

So let’s see what we can do to find him a home again!

Gege is a porcelain cross, who was born in August 2011. He is fine with dogs of both sexes and despite his size, does not pull hard on the lead. He is simply beautiful and has proven his worthiness to be a great pet. He has frequently been walked by people with young children and he respects their size.

C’mon guys, someone out there must be tempted!

Urgent Appeal: Peraud

peraudSometimes you can tell how long a dog has been at the SPA not just from his unique identification number (we start with a new letter and from 001 on Jan 1st each year), but also from his name. Looking at the number LL326, SPA aficionados can tell that Peraud has been with us since last year (LL) and about the middle of the year (we get about 650 dogs in annually, so 326 is about halfway. So maybe June or July. Then his name, Peraud. This is a cyclist who did great things in the 2014 Tour de France! Et voila!

Peraud did indeed arrive in late July 2014. He was found as a stray and never reclaimed. His date of birth was estimated as being July 2008 (it has to be an estimate, as like so many of our dogs, he arrived unidentified). Peraud is a grey and black spaniel, who is fine with female dogs and most males. He is very lively, despite his age, and loves his walks.

Peraud is of small to medium size and shares his kennel quite happily. I am not sure how he is with cats, my guess would be enthusiastic, but not necessarily aggressive. A voir, as they say in French.

In any case, if you are looking for a middle aged but active dog to accompany you on walks, why not give Peraud a chance? He has been with us for a long time, and we just can’t work out why no one is interested in him. Spaniels are not just good for hunting, they make great pets too. And the fact that his owner did not come and collect him implies that Peraud is probably not a great hunter. That has to be in his favour! Go on, give this boy a chance!



toffeeToffee here (although you guys used to call me Farage). Well I arrived in the UK back in October 2014 so I thought it was time I updated you all on what I’m doing. I settled into my new home really quickly, I have lots of other doggies here to show me the ropes and play with. To start with I was a bit a shy but soon found my feet and my spot in front of the fire!! I’ve been to school and I’ve learnt lots of new things, Mum says I am a really good boy and it makes me really proud and waggy when she tells me so. My brothers and sisters all go to school too and they do this silly thing where they run round lots jumping over jumps and they have a walkway and A Frame that they run over and they weave through the poles and things but I don’t see the point of all that nonsense, so when Mum let me try I did the A Frame and the walk way bit just to prove I could but when we got to the jumping bit I laid down and crossed my paws in front of it so after they all stopped laughing she said OK if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to do agility. She also wanted me to try flyball at school, I know she said it was just for fun but I think it is stupid, I can’t see the point of running all that way just for a ball. I mean who needs a ball that badly, even when my school teacher put a sausage on the flyball box especially for my turn I didn’t run, I couldn’t be bothered if I sit and look cute I will get a sausage anyway so RESULT I don’t have to do that either he he, let them nutty collies run round I say (although when it suits me, If I want to play with them I can run around as well as they can). My big brother Harlequin (you remember him, he lived with you too) doesn’t like that agility stuff either but he is loopy about chasing the ball and he likes all the other school stuff so he does that instead. What I really like to do is to go to the local village fetes and things with my Mum & Grandma – I’m Grandma’s favourite so she spoils me rotten, when she comes to see me she brings me mini toad-in-the-holes they are my favourite treats I really like them. On Sunday Mum took me and Harlequin on a sponsored 10 mile walk with my Grandma. We was very good, because it was hot Mum walked us through the ford so we could splash about (I didn’t really care but Quinn loves to play in the water) and we didn’t even chase the ducks that everyone was feeding from the bridge so we got more brownie points with Grandma. I had my very own T-Shirt for the walk I was the only doggy there that looked so smart matching all the people, so I had lots of pictures taken I’m quite a poser!! And I got an ice-cream for my effort I quite liked that too. Anyway I better go because it will soon be teatime and I don’t want to miss that – I will write again soon folks – thank you all for helping me find my forever home I’m having lots of fun here, I have attached some pictures so you can see me. Loads of Love Toffee XX





Pepper (Flavie)

pepperWhen we lost our darling Tessa, a calm, never any trouble, flat coated retriever of 9 years old, we thought we’d just see how we all were for a while, including Tally, another flat coat and just 2 years old.

We realised very soon that we were spoiling her rotten and that she was suffering from quite severe loneliness without Tessa so I started talking to Moira at SPA Carcassonne about a rescue dog.

At first a Golden Retriever caught our eye but was snapped up so Moira asked one of the volunteers Carole which dog she would place with us, knowing our backgrounds with dogs etc. and Carole said ‘Oh, Flavie would be perfect for them’.

So, off we went to meet Flavie, who is now renamed Pepper and who we have had for 3 months.

Lucky for her, she hadn’t been at the SPA for very long, only a month, so was raring to come to a new home and showed no signs of being nervous about it at all.

Once here, she soon met some of our friends’ dogs and got on with all of them, racing round our large garden, playing games with them and never seeming to get tired, even when they said ‘enough is enough, thank you!’

She is a cross between a gazelle and a saluki to us, very long, bambi like legs and she can outrun most dogs that we know. She loves her walks in the countryside where there are streams to splash in, she has been camping with us to a lake which she really enjoyed plus we’re taking her to Spain for our annual camping holiday on a campsite which allows dogs and has a huge stretch of beach to run about on with Tally.

Taking on a rescue dog isn’t always completely plain sailing. Pepper had a pretty poorly tummy and an ear infection for a bit but the vet has sorted those now (plus help from Moira and Darcey on email!). she also chewed through 3 leads so we now have chain ones; she still ‘mouths’ at us when very excited which is fine but she has a strong jaw and she is also quite a barker at passing neighbours and the postman – something we’re not used to with the flat coats we’ve had. We’re working on these bits though and I’m confident that, in time, we’ll have it all sorted.

We certainly wouldn’t be without her – she’s a fantastic addition to our family and she and Tally are like sisters now! She also gets on really well with Boris, our cat, something that was checked before we took her on.

Moira and Darcey were absolute stars in being very patient with me and my elongated emails on occasion and for us to finally meet Pepper and take her home. The dogs at the SPA are very lucky to have them but of course they (the dogs!) would all very much like to be in forever homes.

If it were down to me I’d have more but, for now, two is what we have and I think Pepper is certainly very happy with her new home and her new life!

Nikki & Dave Harland . June 2015