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Author Archives: Moira

Adoptions of Paco and Mulan…

When Paco arrived at the ScPA  in October it was his second stint with us. He had been adopted as an older pup but was returned due to divorce. He is certainly unique with a Sharpie head, a long body but short legs! He is a friendly, steady boy who is fine with other dogs so should be a perfect match for his new owner.

Paco adopted!

Next to leave was lovely Mulan, a yound female who had only been with us for about 3 weeks.

Mulan adopted!

They really are lucky as life is not great in winter for the dogs at the ScPA. Its heart breaking seeing then shivering in their kennels and even although we make sure they have clean, warm bedding, the reality is that they are still in cold concrete boxes.

So how can we make life just a little better for them? Well first of all we can ger them moving and as many as possible out on walks or in the exercise park. We are very careful that their water doesn’t ice over and some of then need a bit more food to help them fight the cold.

When its very cold dog coats really help and waterproof ones are best.

For some of our doggies it’s their third or fourth winter in kennels which is such a shame.

With the cold weather arriving, another reminder about the dangers of anti-freeze which can be extremely dangerous for our pets.

Anti-freeze contains the chemical Ethylene Glycol which dogs and cats find very palatable, as it tastes sweet. It is, in fact, extremely poisonous to them and can be lethal if ingested. Even a small amount can prove fatal, and it’s thought that walking through a spillage and then cleaning their paws could be enough to cause serious illness, or even death.

When filling up your car or de-icing your windows, be sure to mop up any spillages, and store it in a sealed, labelled container, out of your pets’ reach.

If you suspect your pet could be a victim of anti-freeze poisoning, it’s vital to seek veterinary help immediately.



Adoption of Clifford…

When Clifford first arrived at the refuge he was a very scared and flighty boy. Some people underestimate how quickly a scared dog full of adrenalin can move and although he was adopted locally he managed to escape within 24 hours!  It took many volunteers to eventually catch him and without their dedication, goodness knows what would have become of him.

Once back at the refuge he settled down and slowly regained confidence in humans again. Today he left with a lovely family and I am sure that he will settle down very quickly.

Adopting and keeping a very nervous dog safe can be quite a challenge. You know that you have done a great thing and are full of love and encouragement, but it takes time for a timid dog to realise this.  A timid and nervous dog can move very quickly and can be very determined so it’s very important to keep it safe.

The golden rule is to keep your dog on a harness AND collar with either two leads or a double ended lead. This means that if the dog panics and backs away, if one fails the other should keep him nice and safe.

When you leave the refuge it is vital that you can secure your dog on the journey home. The best way for a dog to travel home is in a crate and will ensure that when you get home your dog won’t jump out of the car and run!

Don’t stop to walk your dog on the way home – better a wee and poo in the crate, than a lost dog!

Take your dog into the house using its double lead. Some dogs have never lived in a house before so may need encouraging (or carrying) into the house. Again, every dog is different but always err on the side of caution. Everything will be strange to your dog, from strangers’ voices on the TV to the washing machine or hoover. Keep everything really calm and low key, I remember accidently really scaring a pup by shaking out a bin bag!

However high your fences are, keep your new dog on a lead or long line in the garden for the first few days until you have judged how likely they are to try to escape. Every dog is different, but we have had instances of dogs attempting to jump six foot fences in their panic to get away. Scared dogs become very athletic when in panic mode. Keeping them on the lead until they know where the door is to the house and until they are familiar with you, is a wise move. Better to have the dog on a lead in the garden for several days, than risk losing it!

Please make sure that you are extra careful when people come to your house who aren’t used to your dog. Danger points are open doors and gates. There have been very sad incidents recently of rescue dogs slipping out through an open door or gate. It takes a split second for this to happen!

Don’t be tempted to let a timid dog off the lead until you have practiced recall and are sure that he wont bolt or run off.

Will clifford be 2018’s last adoption? Only tomorrow will tell!

Clifford afopted!

All they want for Christmas is free…..

Everyone loves presents, even dogs. But what does your dog really want for Christmas this year? Does he want a new bed? How about a nice shiny collar? Perhaps a new sporty harness? Unlikely, but luckily for us all they really want is free!

One major thing a dog craves is attention from his favourite people!

Now at this time of year we are all really busy with present buying, cooking and cleaning but the best thing we can give our dog is a little extra time.

Most people ensure that their dog gets a walk at least once a day, but why not add a sniff walk for him in the evening. Just have a wander around, letting them sniff at will, you have no idea how much pleasure that this gives them, and that lamp post or tree holds a wealth of information for them. Or how about a few of their favourite games?

Treat wise a little turkey or chicken will be most appreciated but do be careful with treats that are often left around that can really harm your pet, especially gifts you put under the tree. Many a dog has helped itself to edible goodies when their owner is not looking! Chocolate and mince pies are not advised and be very careful where you put these cooked turkey bones. Cooked bones can splinter and be very sharp and the last thing you want is a trip to the emergency vet on Christmas day!

On checking my Christmas list, I see that I still have 4 dogs and 9 cats to buy pressies for so it’s off to Pets at Home for me tomorrow.

If you are planning a gift for your pets what are you buying?

Dont let this be your dog…





Minta leaves for her forever family…

When Minta first arrived in August this year we assumed that as a beautiful white griffon cross she would be snapped up right away. But we were wrong.

In September she caught the eye of a couple from the Uk who really loved the look of her and were sure that her keen scent hound nose would make her a great candidate for training as a search dog. They were so keen that they flew over to meet her and fell in love instantly.

They went home and emailed us on the Sunday afternoon to reserve her, just as another couple adopted her. I was gutted for them and really disappointed!

Sometimes I think that some things are just meant to be and as soon as I heard that Minta was coming back to the refuge I contacted them, and they reserved her right away. I was very worried that in the meantime they would have adopted another dog but no, Minta had stolen their heart.

So, we prepared her for travel, completed her TRACES documentation and this morning very early Darcey handed her over to the transporters. Many thanks to Darcey for doing this, I know what like it is tossing and turning waiting for the transporters call which is invariably about 4am in the morning!

At the moment she is at Eurotunnel and will be with her new family about 2am tomorrow morning. As well as doing search work Minta will have two brothers, both rescues and a family who are very much into training, so she will never be bored.

I am sure that we will have pictures of her relaxing with her new family soon and I am very grateful to them for making such an effort to fly over come and meet her and offer her such a great future.

Beautiful Minta…

Found in Limoux….

Today one of our volunteers found a stunning golden retriever running about on the road in Limoux, and as any dog lover would do, caught him and is keeping him safe until we can locate the owner.

We regularly get asked what to do when someone finds a dog, So I thought that I’d mention what steps to take should it be you.

First of all, make sure the dog is well and if it is hurt, that is a priority and you can take it to any vet.  If the dog is thirsty, give it a drink and maybe a little food if hungry.

Next thing to do is check if the dog is wearing a collar with an identification disk or number written inside the collar. If not take the dog to the nearest vet to check for a chip or tattoo.

Social media sites really help.

Place details of the dog on the web site www.chien-perdu.org , where there is a section for found dogs. Your local SPA may also have a lost / found section on their website. Please also contact Pet Alert France – a Facebook group dedicated to finding lost pets. This group is regionalised, so search for and post on your own region’s group.

All stray dogs are the responsibility of the Mairie so let him know that you have found him and they will tell you which SPA / Pound to take it to.

When the dog reaches the SPA we publish their photo and details in the hope that the owner recognises the dog and comes to collect him.

Please do remember that its not a case of finders keepers. If no owner comes forward and you want to adopt the dog then that is fine but its only fair to give people time to find their dog…anyone can lose a dog and not all lost dogs are without owners.

Tomorrow our volunteer who has found the stunning golden will have him checked for a chip at the vets and if there is no chip will bring him to the SPA.

Anyone recognise this handsome chap?



Broken hearted…

We often get older doggies arriving at the refuge when their owner takes ill or moves into residential care but that was not the case with poor Jageur.

Jageur was abandoned at 11 years of age and he is HATING refuge life. All this boy wants is his family back.

In all my time at the SPA I have never seen such a visibly stressed dog. This is manifesting itself in incessant barking which is very hard to ignore. This cant be good for him, the dogs around him for anyone else who has to listen to it.

Even on a walk he barks all the time and I have to say our walk on Tuesday was not pleasant.  He has been on my mind ever since then and how we, in a refuge situation can make life better for him?

A new home would be the best solution but who is going to see past this barking and adopt this sad boy?  A foster home would be great but then again who will take the chance and offer this stressed boy some respite. He is so busy barking that he won’t even engage with us yet. I tried treats, toys, sticks hoping that if he will carry something in his mouth, he will stop barking,

I have an adaptil collar for him, maybe that will help a little and next week I will try and take him away from the refuge to the lake and see how he settles in a different location.  Maybe its time he needs and will settle soon.

How sad that a dog ends up in this stressed. heartbroken state at 11 years old.

If you think you could foster or even adopt this lovely boy then please do get in touch.

Jageur…..stressed and broken hearted!


Saving Leo…

At the beginning of October 3 joggers arrived at the SPA with the biggest dog we have ever seen. A magnificent 75kg Berger de Caucase, who we called Leo.  Found as a stray we checked him over for a microchip. Our delight at finding one was short lived when we discovered that it was an unregistered Romanian chip!

So, what was the problem with that?

Well, France is a rabies free country and Romania is not so unless we could prove that Leo had been in France for a long time and he automatically had rabies free status or we could find his owner and papers then his future was at risk.  At best 6 months quarantine and at worst euthanasia, Leos life really was on the line!

First thing that was done was to check with all local vets to see if Leo was registered anywhere. He wasn’t.  So where had this dog come from and how had he got here?

We needed help, and fast!

Its also heart warning when you appeal for help and other rescuers drop everything to help. We set up a great group of English, French and Romanian speaking rescuers whose detective skills were second to none!

We went back to the details that we did have, an unregistered Romanian chip. We contacted the manufacturer of the chips and they were able to tell us what vet in Romania had bought that batch of chips.

One of the Romanian rescue girls called the vet who was able to tell us who brought the pups in to be chipped ( the breeder) but not why Leo was chipped and it wasn’t registered on the system. It came as a big shock to learn that dogs can be legally removed from the Romanian system at the owners request. The only thing to do was to speak to the breeder who now lives in Italy to try and get information from him.

This wasn’t easy, we did find him but him information was sketchy and unreliable. We spent a lot of time tracing and speaking to friends, contacts… all to no avail.

The DSV, the UK equivalent to DEFRA were getting very tetchy and time was running out.

We appealed again for information and received information from a very helpful lady who seemed to know the owner and kindly asked him to arrange for scans of Leos paperwork to be sent to us to save his dog life! From the passport scan we got a name, address and phone number of the person who bought him from the breeder.

Back to the Romanian girls. The number wasn’t active, so, they called the equivalent of the local Mairie, who knew the family of the owner on the passport. She called them, and the mum told us her son had bought Leo for a friend , he was in Africa but she would ask him to contact us asap and low and behold he did!

He had bought Leo and taken him to Corsica to his friend 3 years ago. This friend became Leos  owner. We also got his name and contacts and heard that he was living in the Carcassonne area. Wait a minute, 3 guys brought him in as they “found him whilst out jogging”….BINGO we had strong leads to the owner!

A few calls later and we had tracked the owner down who was able to arrange for us to get all of Leos papers and sign a contract of abandonment, had he done this in the first place it would have saved many, many hours of rescuers time and ensured his dog was not at risk from euthanasia….

But, all’s well that ends well and now Leo is no longer at risk and is available for adoption. We need to spend some time really getting to know Leo but we have had various offers from breed associations as well as some individuals so it wont be long before he has a home.

We have often had dogs brought in with foreign chips and we can usually track the owners, but Leo was the first from a non rabies free country. Rabies free status is not to be taken lightly even although the last reported dog with rabies in Romania was in 2016 and that the reality of Leo having rabies was minute. Our vet saw Leo regularly and he was always given a clean bill of health. We contacted a lot of associations who made attestations for our DSV that their dogs in similar situations were allowed quarantine as opposed to euthanasia. We did our homework! We even had an association who would have taken him for any quarantine period!

If you do have a dog living in France from outside the EU please register them in France and make sure your documents are kept safe and their rabies up to date. So, if they get lost, they are never at risk. We are lucky as we have the resources and language skills to trace chips, some refuges don’t, and your dog could be euthanised after 10 days.

There were so many rescuers who helped us that I won’t mention them all by name but would like to say how very grateful we are for your help and support. Thank you to everyone who contacted either them or us with ideas and information. Without you Leo could have been facing 6 months quarantine or worse…

Leo, whose real name is Mass.




The teenage months part 3 – food thief

First the good news!  Since the summer we have been working hard and I’m really pleased with Poppy’s progress when out walking, recall is now coming along well and when with me on her own she does not stray far. She still follows Jake, I guess she always will, but she now comes back first and voluntarily. I never forget to great her with open arms, lavish praise and a tasty morsel. Positive training and constant reinforcement.

I am however really reaping the whirlwind with Miss Poppy! Don’t get me wrong, she is a lovely dog but, and as I’ve been so lucky with my other 2, it’s as if she has been sent especially teach me a lesson! On the behavioural side of training much of my advice to others is based on knowledge gained but not necessarily on personal experience.  Now I’m being given a chance to put the theory into practice. Thank you for that Poppykins!

Right from the start she has been a food thief and with such long legs could easily reach the the counter top. The crunch came quite early on when she knocked over a bowl of very hot stock. Fortunately it was just messy and she didn’t get hurt, it could have been far worse! On the plus side it scared her so much that she didn’t go near the counter top again. Also I am more careful and I don’t leave anything tasty within reach. Removing the reward removes the unwanted behaviour.

If you have a dog that steals from the table or work surface one thing you can try is set a trap. Find a tasty morsel, a piece of string, a tin can or two/a bunch of keys (anything that will make a loud noise when it hits the floor but is light enough not to hurt the dog). You see where this is going? That’s right, tasty treat near edge of worktop/table, tied to something that’s going to make a clatter when the dog grabs the treat. The fright may be enough to deter the behaviour but it is then up to you to reinforce that by not leaving anything in temptations way and also to train them not to take without permission.

Here’s how.  First offer food in a closed fist and only when the dog stops sniffing and looks at you do you give the treat with a command to take. Once this is learned do the same thing with an open hand if the dog tries to take the treat simply close your hand, when it looks at you for guidance give the treat ‘take’. Then move on to placing a treat on the floor in front of your dog (not too close  to start with) and stop them from taking it. At this point you can now introduce the ‘leave’ command. When your dog is calm and looks at you give permission to take the treat.

Poppy, deterred from taking from the worktop then learned how to open the dog food draw. No mean feat and to this day I do not know how she did it, but child proof locks have solved that problem!

Shirley Reddell



Keep your counters clear to avoid counter surfing becong a habit!


Adoption of Nemo and Teo…

Today people seemed to be out and about again after all the bad weather and we had two great adoptions!

First to leave was Nemo. Nemo arrived at the SPA in May as a stray, a large pup who had probably outgrown his cuteness and was being ignored so just wandered off.  No one called about him or seemed to be looking for him but, as they say, their loss is someone else’s gain and today he left with a family who will appreciate and love him.

He is a lucky boy as adolescent black males can have a very long wait for a new home!

Nemo adopted!

Next to leave was little terrier Teo. He hadn’t been with us long and was a cute lively little lad. Generally speaking, small dogs are easier to home than large dogs, so it was no surprise that he was quickly snapped up.

Teo adopted!

Don’t forget that even although its Sunday tomorrow we will be open. We are now open 2-6pm every Sunday which gives people working more opportunity to come along and see our animals and means that more dogs enjoy a nice stroll on a Sunday afternoon.



Adoption of Neiko…

Todays adoption was Neiko, a young male who has just turned 1. Neiko is typical of many young dogs, acquired as cute puppies and then left to their own devices. This usually means that they arrive at the refuge as strays and are never reclaimed.

Neiko adopted!

Adolescent males make up large percentage of the refuge’s population. They usually arrive entire and have wandered off looking for fun. Most haven’t had much training and have been mostly ignored.

Saying that, most are sociable, happy dogs who have just been let down by their owners. In a home where they are loved, exercised and given a little bit of training, these dogs really thrive and the bond made with their new family is unbreakable. I am sure that most rescue dogs know that they have been given a second chance and are really appreciative.

Could you give a home to one of our youngsters? Don’t forget that even after adoption we provide post adoption support and have a dog trainer and behaviourist to assist. Most post adoption queries are easily solved with a little ‘management’ advice, so you are never left struggling on your own.

We always advise that you contact us as soon as a behaviour becomes an issue rather than waiting until it becomes a crisis but once a dog has passed through the SPA it has our support for life.