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Author Archives: Moira


Normally we don’t use the blog for individual dogs but needs must and Taser really deserves a home.

Taser is 7 and has been with us for about half of his life! Why? Well, we really can say that it was down to no fault of his own…his owner was murdered.
Is it because he resembles a bull breed, is brindle coloured, is male…why has he not been adopted?
He is a very loyal boy who loves people and most dogs ( not cats though). He’s strong but very trainable as he loves treats and squeaky toys and he knows all of the basic commands. He is a boxer cross and the boxer playfulness and cheekiness is very endearing.
Taser has shared his kennel with many dogs, usually scared females who he helps restore their trust in humans he really is a sensitive lovely boy!
He could go to the UK. We will transport him to any good home.
So, if you are looking for a loyal, loving dog to share your life then please contact us.

Taser really deserves a family!

Lafille leaves at last…

When Lafille arrived at the beginning of February as a 5 month old cute pup we were all sure that she would be gone as soon as her pound time was up.  Its unusual for a cute female pup to have to wait long at all, especially a blond one!

Never mind, a four week wait isn’t too long to wait and today she left and is now to be called Tina!

shar-pei x

Lafille adopted!

We hate seeing pups grow up at the refuge. Pups need to be out and about, meeting other dogs, other animals, people, children, traffic and to be part of normal day to day activity. Unless they experience all of these things as a young pup they can develop a fear of them.

At the refuge Lafille was socialised with as many suitable pups as possible and after her buddy Marcus leaving earlier this week it was great that she too found a forever family today.

When a pup arrives at the refuge we all have fun guessing what breed (s) they could be. Lafille had a wrinkly look that is typical to Shar- pei’s and was the shape of a labrador but really we are just guessing. As most pups arrive as strays we cant guarantee their breed but our vet has a good idea if they are going to be small, medium or large as adults.

For those of you who really want to know what breeds your pup is made up of then you can purchase a DNA kit from amazon. It only takes 3 weeks from sending off the sample until you get the results.

I did this with my boxer cross Phoebe and the test revealed that she was also part labrador and newfoundland.  This didn’t surprise me at all as she is a big girl.

Tomorrow is our open day and Sebastian has organised another group walk. Keep an eye on the weather though folks and if its raining watch for an update on the facebook page as to whether the walk will go ahead or not.





Coping with a teenage dog

Poppy now almost 9 months old is no longer a puppy but an adolescent.  BANG! Just like that and seemingly overnight, my lovely, cuddly, obedient, follow me anywhere pup is now an unruly teenager!!

A dog is generally considered ‘ado’ once they have their canine teeth, at around 7mths, and until 18mths of age. During this time a pup’s brain changes and matures.! Just like their human counterparts an adolescent dog can be willful and obnoxious. They will test you, ignore you and push the boundaries. Recall goes to pot. They can be jumpy, bitey and downright disobedient! It can be disappointing, discouraging and challenging to say the least! If you are going through this stage with your pup or have adopted an adolescent dog don’t despair, what seems like complete disaster is a temporary phase. Here are some key points to help you cope.


Like a human teenager an adolescent dog often has lots of excess energy that needs to be channelled so that it is not used negatively and destructively. Plenty of exercise, appropriate to age and size, is therefore important. Consider starting agility or cani-cross training, or make a walk more challenging by playing hide and seek or laying a scent trail.


It’s important to keep up and reinforce the basic training during this critical period of development but also to make it more interesting.  Practice in different locations and add in more brain-challenging exercises.


Make sure your dog gets plenty of opportunities to socialise. Have ‘play dates’. Go to a good dog school. Not only will your dog have fun but you will get professional advice, be able to talk with other ‘parents’ going through the same thing and exchange ideas.


Play with your dog, this is a very underused and undervalued training tool.

Take a breath

Above all be patient and calm, don’t get stressed. You will weather the storm and come out the other end with a stronger bond with your dog.

Shirley Reddell




Teenagers playing at dog training club Azille…

Our Year of the Dog Appeal..

Last week saw the start of the Chinese New Year. As it will be the year of the DOG, we at Dog Rescue Carcassonne are hoping to raise even more money for the animals at SPA Carcassonne.

If every one of you lovely people gave just €1 each, that would mean we’d raise a total of €2900. With that money, we could make the lives of the many dogs who pass through our doors so much better.

Last year 622 dogs and 348 cats passed through our doors. To get each dog or cat ready for adoption it costs us..

2 Vaccinations
Kennel cough
Flea and worm treatment
Rabies vaccination, passport and travel costs for any dogs travelling out of France

And then there is the vet care should any dog need it as well as refuge overheads. These costs would really make your eyes water!

I know that many of you have SPA Carcassonne or rescue dogs and that there are lots of you who are dog lovers.
Please help us help even more dogs this year by donating 1 euro or more and help make this year of the DOG very special for our dogs!

You can donate by:

  •  paypal : website@dogrescuecarcassonne.co.uk and please mention YEAR OF THE DOG APPEAL in the comments.
  • By following this link to pay by card : https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=Yc6pK08c9VssBVul6K-FV7n6SMq_C9-Bp2irYbfODfdFX75nm-_HbkiPViUEBypFlWhT_0&country.x=FR&locale.x=
  • A cheque, payable to the SPA,  SPA Carcassonne, Chemin de la SPA, 11000 Carcassonne.
  • or Cash, of course!

Adoption of Baxter..

Today was Baxter’s lucky day. This very handsome boy arrived in October and I am really surprised that he spent so long with us.  Blond dogs generally go very quickly especially when they are as good looking as Baxter!

It’s true that had Baxter been a girl she would most likely have been adopted much quicker. It’s a sad fact that young adolescent males are much more likely to find themselves in a refuge than females and generally stay much longer too!

So why do lots of young males end up in rescue? One thing is sure it’s not their fault but usually that of the owner. Too little training, too few walks, too little socialisation and of course not neutering males will make them want to chase after the girls.

Lets not forget that when you take on a pup, male or female you take on the responsibility for that pup for life. You take on the responsibility of socialising, training, exercising and caring fir that pup right throughout their life. Its very naive to think that over 15 years your life circumstances wont change and if you take on a pup you need to be willing to adapt to accommodate that pup no matter what life throws at you.

So what reasons do we hear every day when people want to abandon their dog? Divorce, work schedule changing, don’t have time to exercise, moving house, expecting a baby, the dog hasn’t trained himself! And these are just a few!

Luckily for some of these poor dogs who have been let down by humans, there are fantastic families out their who are happy to welcome them and ensure a happy ever after but for some poor souls there is a long wait in kennels, years often.

We don’t know why Baxter arrived in rescue, he was found as a stray but please make sure that if you commit to a pup don’t let it end up in rescue because you don’t carry out your side of the bargain.  Be responsible….and make sure that you understand that a dog is for life, not until your circumstances change.





Adoption of Achille and Poly..

Today we had two adoptions, one pup and one oldie!

First to leave was Achille a very cute Jack Russel cross. Achille arrived in December and was lucky enough to go right into foster.  When in foster we learn lots about a pup and can begin the basics such as housetraining and socialising.  Small breed cute pups seldom have a long wait and today he left for his forever home.

It’s never easy fostering a pup. Pups need lots of attention, regular trips outside to toilet and like babies often keep you awake at night! So a big thank you to Achilles foster family whose house will be much quieter tonight!

Achille adopted!

Next to leave was Polly. Polly arrived as a stray on the 26th December and at nine years old could have had a long wait. Luckily for her, a super family contacted us to ask if we thought that she could live their elderly springer and Labrador cross.  We had already determined that she was a lovely sociable lady and so off she went to a loving family where she will be adored for the rest of her life.

We are always so very grateful when families will take on an older dog and give them a second chance at happiness. Without people like that dos like Poly would spend their last years in a concrete kennel and that really is far too grim to contemplate.

Poly adopted!

We were also very happy to hear that Teasel, an ex SPA dog who went missing after a very exciting fox chase is back home safe and sound. Any of you who have had a dog go missing will realise the panic and fear that owners go through. The best thing to do should your dog go missing is to get the word out there. The more people who are aware the greater chance you have of getting the dog back.


Once upon a time..

Once upon a time, there were two little Border Terriers, Gimli and Hector , who moved from their home in London to their new home in SW France. They were so happy when they arrived to find that their humans had bought them a lovely little farm, with lots of lands to run around, explore and have adventures! They settled in very quickly and soon Hector was regularly bringing mice in from the barns, happy days .

Tragically, after only 3 years in their new found paradise, poor Gimli had to be put to sleep, a chronic spinal problem, leaving an utterly devastated Hector. For over a month he pined and only left the house to do his business, leaving his humans even sadder. They could take it no more, so started to research adopting a puppy. A litter of Griffons needed homing from the SPA near Bergerac and so it came to pass that Porthos came to cheer Hector up and bring the sparkle back into his life! As soon as they met, they became real buddies and they played and they played!

About 18 months after Porthos arrived, there was a terrible problem in the garden with foxes coming in and out in broad daylight, trying to steal the chickens. Both dogs were very good at guarding the chickens and after about 3 weeks of constant raids by the fox, both dogs took chase one afternoon and disappeared! After a week of searching and agonising, Porthos just trotted up the garden one afternoon! He was definitely worse for wear, but home in one piece. Hector had gone on the chasse of his life ……

There is a happy ending to this tale, but you’ll have to wait a bit, and you may need a box of tissues! Porthos continued to live happily enough with his humans, except to say that he had started fitting occasionally. The vets did tests but said that as he was so young he would probably grow out of them. He did n’t. One night he passed away in my husband’s arms, unable to control or stop the massive and fatal fit that just kept going on and on. Absolutely heartbreaking. And then there were none, no dogs at all, and the house was still. But we still hear them, don’t we?

The humans were too heartbroken and needed time to grieve. But as the months passed, the void needed filling, so enter SPA Carcassonne ! It was time to give an older dog a new start and the story of Shadow, with his little face looking at us out of the website, had us sold! His papers say he is a Pyrenean Berger X , so he’s a medium-sized dog, and the vet said he should weight about 20kg . When we adopted him, he was just over 30kg !!! Lots of short walks and a controlled feeding plan slowly got his weight down, improved his fitness and therefore his joie de vivre! He wasn’t always the easiest at the beginning, as he was the best thief I have ever known, and once he had something in his mouth he would make a terrible noise until left to eat it at leisure – whatever disgusting object it was! He must have the most amazing constitution! Anyway, we love him dearly now and so much so, it was decided to get him a pal.


SPA Carcassonne came good again with a super young Griffon who we have named Dreyfus ! He was only just over 2yrs when we adopted him. I was always sure he was a lovely boy, but when he first came to live with us , he was incredibly timid. More of men than women. The saving grace was that he really wanted to stay close to home, to us. So when people came to the house, we would make sure that he was free to hide or come and say hello as he wished, and over time this did the trick! A good ignoring by guests was always the best way for him to find the confidence to say hello. He is an absolutely adorable chap and loving constant attention from us now, we are never alone !!!!


Ah, that happy ending, I hear you say! Not just yet! Wait for it ………

One rainy day in May 2017 , we went up to the village for a coffee. But en route was noticed a scruffy, fat little dog in the rain, by the side of the road. I told my husband to stop the car, which he did, I opened my door and called “Hector” !!!! Within 5 seconds he was on my lap going crazy! It was our Hector! Still wearing our collar, although a bit tight as he was so fat! So, 2 years and 7 months later, we found him !!!


A Chien Perdu notice appeared the next day, so I managed to find the lady who had kindly taken him in. It transpires that an elderly man had found him and taken him in, and kept him for 2 years as a lap dog and companion until he passed away. The family didn’t want the dog, so Videane offered to look after him for a couple of weeks until a more permanent owner could be found. That’ll be 7 months then! She is a really lovely lady and was delighted to get “Dog” as she called him, back to his rightful owners. She pops in regularly to say hello, and he is always very pleased to see her.

So, there you have your happy ending ! We now have 3 dogs !! They all get on very well, although Hector is top dog! The really lovely thing about our two adoptees is that they haven’t got a bad bone in them, they are never aggressive and get on with every dog they meet out and about. It’s so nice never having to worry.

So, there ends the tale of the three dogs who at this moment are laying in front of the fire, blissfully unaware of what I am writing about them. Occasionally a twitching paw and a little squeak gives away a dream, and I’m happy that they are safe and warm. It’s a dog’s life and I’m glad that their Once upon a time has ended with a Happy ever after 😍

Shadow, Hector and Dreyfus!


My dog understands everything I say…

Poppy turned 6 months old at the end of November marked by two significant events. Firstly she was sterilised.  I was dreading it, it was not something I wanted to put her through but it was the responsible choice. The SPAs and other refuges are regularly inundated  with puppies due to irresponsible and ‘accidental’ breeding. Puppies are cute and generally get adopted quite quickly but a good percentage also end up back at the refuge when they become untrained and unruly adolescents.  If you are not a registered breeder and you take on a puppy or young dog please talk to your vet and have them sterilised as soon as possible. There are many benefits from having your dog sterilised, avoidance of certain cancers for one. It is also a popular misconception that a sterilised dog will get fat, they will only put weight through overfeeding and/or lack of  exercise.

The second event was a DNA analysis. It doesn’t matter of course what she is, she is my ‘baby’ dog and I love her but it’s fascinating stuff nonetheless.  I have learnt that she is, as suspected, 50% Border Collie but also 25% Labrador Retriever, 20% Landseer and 5% Newfoundland. A nice mix character wise plus I now know what her strengths are likely to be and what health risks to expect.

So far Poppy has proved easy to train and I can now target her known abilities. I say so far because at 6-7 mths old she is coming into adolescence, the age when boundaries get tested and rules need to be reinforced. She is quick to learn but how much of what I say to her does she really understand?

My dog understands every word I say

Really? Is that true?

Anyone who owns a dog will recognise those words and has probably even said them at times.  We talk to our dogs as if they were human and why not indeed!? Dogs are very good at listening and often give the impression that they are taking it all in.  They sit patiently cocking their heads from side to side whilst we explain what we are doing in the kitchen or the finer points of a football match and the referee’s bad decision making.

What do they actually understand though?

“Now then ‘Poppy’ I’m just going to nip outside and fetch something and I want you to sit nicely and stay there until I come back.”  Sounds familiar doesn’t it and she will probably do exactly that, thus giving the impression that she has understood everything I said.

What she really heard though was:  “Blah blah blah POPPYblah blah blah blah SIT blah blah STAY blah blah etc”.

Our dogs are of course not born with an understanding of human language although they are capable of learning the meaning of a great many words. Only words though not sentences. That said, dogs are very accomplished at filling in the gaps and more often than not correctly.

So how do they do it?

Although vocalisation and scent also play a part, dogs communicate primarily by the use of body language and they are extremely adept at reading visual clues. Ears, tails, stance and facial expressions are all important in the dog world.  We humans don’t have tails and in general cannot waggle our ears at will but we do have hands that move about a lot (many people ‘talk’ with their hands), bodies that can bend in many different ways and a great many facial expressions.  This is why our dogs often seem to know what we are about to do, sometimes even before we know ourselves. They read all the visual clues that we, albeit unwittingly, give out.  They are also very sensitive to emotions; they know when we are sad, happy, angry or ill.

Try this.  Ask someone to strike a pose depicting an emotion or an action (e.g. I’m very angry!  I don’t know!).  I bet you get it right and that’s how dogs do it.

How does this translate into our everyday lives with our dogs?

Well it’s very useful for training purposes, as body language, hand signals and facial expressions are often much more effective than spoken commands. However our body language can also have a huge negative impact on our dogs and often contributes to training issues and even separation anxiety, a subject I will return to in the New Year.

Unfortunately for our dogs we are not as adept at reading their body language as they are ours and misunderstandings regularly occur.  Something I hear often is, “I know that Fido knows he has done something wrong because when I come in he creeps around/hides/rolls over, so why does he continue to do it?”

Does the dog really know that what it has done is wrong in thus instance?  It depends on the circumstances of course but mostly the dog is just picking up on the owner’s emotional reaction to whatever has occurred in their absence.

Let’s take a common example of a dog that raids the rubbish bin whilst its owner is out, the rubbish is tipped out and the dog is rewarded by some tasty morsels.  The owner comes home and there is rubbish all over the kitchen floor, they are understandably angry and the culprit (because there is no question who did it) is in trouble.

There is a problem here though because whatever the misdemeanour you need to catch the culprit ‘red pawed’. Punishment, (which must never be physical) after the event, is futile and may even exacerbate the unwanted behaviour. By the time the owner arrives home Fido, probably by now asleep in his basket, will have completely forgotten that it was he that caused the damage.  All the dog will understand is that when it goes to greet its beloved human, tail wagging happily, they are angry with him.  It’s also evident that they are not happy about all the rubbish on the kitchen floor.

How did that get there by the way!?

The next time the owner is absent the bin gets raided again because it brings an instant reward in the shape of last night’s left-overs or the wrapping of something tasty (or smelly!).  Then, having done the deed Fido suddenly realises that there is rubbish all over the floor!  He doesn’t necessarily associate it with him tipping the bin out but he knows from previous experience that this makes his Mum or Dad angry, so he is now worried and when they arrive home the dog assumes a submissive or fearful posture.  This in turn is taken as a sign by the owner that Fido knows he has done wrong. A vicious circle ensues with the owner getting more exasperated and the dog getting more stressed.  In this instance a simple solution is to either remove or lock the bin.

 If you remove the reward you stop the unwanted behaviour.


A very happy festive season to you all. Please remember that a great many of our seasonal treats are harmful to our 4 legged friends. Notably, chocolate, dried fruit (mince pies, Christmas pudding/cake etc.), cooked bones and fatty foods, onions, garlic, mushrooms and of course alcohol.

Shirley Reddell




Merry Xmas from Poppy…


When we went on holiday to see our friends in Carcassonne in June 2015, we weren’t on the look out for a dog. We went to the SPA with my friend who volunteers, to do some dog walking – and we met Faro. A little black, rough haired doggie who was terrified of his own shadow and even more terrified of men… but beautifully well behaved on the lead, he just kept looking up at me with those wide eyes. We were smitten.

When we got home, we couldn’t stop thinking about him hiding in the back of his kennel, and three weeks later had reserved him and arranged travel back to Carcassonne to fetch him.

In my ignorance, I just thought he would love being in a warm loving home on a fleecy blanket with lots of yummy food… but no… to him the SPA Kennel was safety from whatever he had endured in a previous life. He barely moved from the sofa for some time and we had to build his trust and confidence very slowly. Television was super scary and squeaky balls had to be put away. But he always loved being with other dogs and our fantastic dog walker quickly became a third trusted person in his life.

It took some time but I can honestly say it is the best thing we have ever done – Faro has changed our lives and we love him unconditionally. His trust and loyalty in us is amazing and he is now a lively and loving dog who loves nothing more than a big run and then to curl up with his head on your lap (and he now loves a squeaky ball too!!). He still has his nervous moments and doesn’t 100% trust everyone but his progress is incredible and you wouldn’t recognise him as the same dog. He has even been to France on holiday with us last year and took a visit back to the SPA.

The team at the SPA and DRC do an incredible job and their advice and support was fantastic. The best piece of advice was to use a harness and double lead – I can’t imagine what he would have done if he had pulled out of his collar in those very early nervous days. I thoroughly recommend adopting a rescue dog and giving them a new life – we would do it all over again.

Faro…enjoying life like all dogs should!


If you have a new puppy or a dog what is one of the first things you need to teach it?  The answer: ITS NAME

“Of course,” I hear you say. “That’s obvious!”

You would think so wouldn’t you?  However, I’m sure you have often heard an owner either calling a dog or trying to get the dog’s attention in order to give it a command, meanwhile the dog is looking anywhere except at its master.

“Jake”(no response)“Jake”(still nothing). “JAKE!!!” (no joy)  JakeJakeJakeJAKEJAKEY!!” The pitch and the volume are going up each time but the dog pays no attention.

The first problem here is that the dog has not been taught to respond 100% of the time to its name.  Add to that the fact that the tone of voice changes with each call, that the dog can sense the mounting frustration and sometimes anger in its owner’s voice and there isn’t a hope in hell of getting it to respond.  When the name is then called in rapid succession the sound changes completely so how could the dog possibly even recognise it.

Take human babies for instance, one of the first things they hear repeated over and over is their name, they learn to recognise this sound and to respond to it. As babies grow and become toddlers they will learn that this sound is their name and as children they will be taught to spell and to write it.

A dog however will never know that the sound it hears is its name any more than it will ever be able to spell or write it.  In fact when dogs change owners, often their name is also changed and they have to start again.  Dogs have no problem with this as to them it’s just a word; the change may even be a positive thing, eradicating any bad association the dog had with its old name.

To  teach your dog its name you first need CONTACT

As with all the training you will do it’s about rewarding the behaviour you want to be repeated and the first phase is always silent.

First teach the action then give your dog the one word command associated with it. 

Contact, also  referred to as ‘look at me’ or ‘the look’ is an important first step in training whether starting with a puppy or older dog. This is about teaching them to focus on you and all other training you do will depend on the success of this step.

Why is that? Because if your dog’s attention is elsewhere, giving any instruction is a complete waste of time. Successful training is not about dominance but about complicity. It’s about having a dog that is focused on you, ready and waiting to see what they should do next, because they want to  and because it’s fun; or maybe just because they know you have a pocket full of treats!!

Step 1. Start by siphoning off a portion of the daily ration and keeping it about your person. You are going to be dishing out a lot of rewards and you don’t want a fat dog!*  Pick a quiet place with no distractions for your dog and then simply wait, silent and relaxed.  When your dog looks at your face immediately give a treat, if you are using clicker then the sequence is click, treat. To start with just a lift of the eyes to your face is good enough but then you need to raise the bar so your dog looks you in the eyes and, after that, holds the look for longer. It sounds complicated but your dog will ‘get’ super fast that pay attention =reward

Once you have ‘contact’ you can then


 Step 2. Now when your pup /dog looks at you reward whist simultaneously saying his name each time. Dogs are smart, it won’t take long for them to work out that this word means treats, so he is already associating his name with good things.

Step 3. Say his name when he is close to you but not looking at you, using a normal tone of voice. If you have practised well and not tried to rush it he should instantly look at you.  When this happens be ready with several treats and lots of praise, be aware that your timing or lack of it is critical; the treats must be dished out the minute he looks at you.  If at this point he didn’t look at you then you have gone too fast, go back a step or you will inadvertently teach your dog to ignore its name.

If you succeeded in getting his attention straight away continue in the same manner, you are aiming for 100% success rate so again don’t rush.  This is the crucial stage that all of your other training will be based on.

Step 4. So far you have been working within the confines of your home where there are no distractions. If you have succeeded up to now then you are ready to attach your dog to a  lead and take him outside.  Say his name as you are walking and immediately reward him when he pays attention to you.

If you continue in this way, making sure that each step is successfully completed you will end up with a dog that looks at you for guidance, one that is ready and waiting for your command and comes when called.

A word of warning, if you use his name in anger or associate it with something unpleasant you will have negated all the work you have done and will have to start again at zero!!

*If your dog  really isn’t food motivated, is on a special diet or you just don’t want to go that route then use a different reward. There are dogs that are treat driven and those who would do anything for a ball or a ragger. Some just want a stroke or praise. It’s all about motivation and finding what works for your dog.

A word about recall

When taking on a rescue dog it is wise to first build up trust and put the above training in place before letting them off the lead. A safe enclosed space in which to practice initially and a long line/lead (8-10 metres) is recommended. If you have a local dog club this is an ideal and safe environment in which to practice. As always, the time this takes depends very much on the individual dog.

Puppies however are a different thing entirely, people regularly come to club with 6 month old pups who have never been off lead because they are too worried about them running off.

My advice?

PUPPIES ARE HARD WIRED TO FOLLOW and the best time to teach them to stay with you and come when called is from the very start.

So after a couple of days just at home to familiarise the pup with its surroundings, gain their trust  and initiate ‘contact’. Let your pup go, on a long trailing line initially if you prefer, and when they  stay close (because they will!) reward and reinforce that behaviour.

Shirley Reddell



Poppy learnt her name very quickly!