Home / Author Archives: Moira (page 15)

Author Archives: Moira


It’s been 22 months now since that gorgeous sunny day in February 2016, when we made the 4-hour drive down to Carcassonne with our 11 year-old Border Collie, to meet our newest family member for the first time. Just 2 months old, Jazz (Tania) melted all our hearts and we were back again shortly afterwards to adopt and bring her home with us to Charente-Maritime. A mischievous bundle of energy, she loved exploring her new garden and getting to know us as well as her new big sister! With lots of summer visitors to our gîte she is never short of playmates and adores a game of chase on the field, rural and coastal walks, not to mention all the extra fuss and cuddles.

Her legs seemed to grow daily in the early days and it wasn’t long before we began to realise that she was, in fact a border collie crossed with another breed, quite possibly a lurcher, but certainly a sight hound, given her sheer speed and determination to chase rather than herd. Not a problem at all, although as long-time collie owners we knew we would have to change tack on the training front. Recall was going to be a bigger challenge than we expected, but we persevered and she is now much better.

Fast-forward to late summer and we noticed a protrusion when she needed to wee. A prolapse, we thought, so we headed off smartly to our local vet. A thorough examination and an x-ray later, we discovered that we are the proud (if somewhat non-plussed) owners of a dog in a million: Jazz is a hermaphrodite with elements of both male and female organs.  Our vet was amazed and explained that they did not have the expertise to carry out the required procedures to neuter her. Not an issue as we were headed to the UK for an extended visit, so a trip to our old veterinary clinic was duly booked.

Jazz became something of a celebrity as our UK vet had to seek advice worldwide in order to decide on the best course of action to neuter her, so rare is the condition. Her womb was removed along with testes that were found in place of her ovaries! Bless her, she was a little star as she recuperated from her operation although walkies were severely restricted for a few weeks. Repeat visits as she healed ensured she has a special place in the hearts of the vets and nurses back in the UK and they still ask after her. Pleased to report that she is back to her best and an integral part of the clan.

Variety is the spice of life they say, so after another summer of fun and frolics in the Charentais sun we are now temporarily relocated in NE England for the winter, where the beaches can rival anything the French Atlantic Coast has to offer. Daily walks along the sands, chasing a ball and playing with scores of other four-legged friends have become the norm and both dogs are delighted with their new surroundings, whatever the weather. It will be a joy to return to warmer weather, the fields and the peace of rural France in the spring, but for now Jazz and the rest of the family are looking forward to the festive season in NE England. It is, after all, the most wonderful Tyne of the year!

Jazz….like most border collies, a fast mover!


We have had Faro since 24th July 2016 after seeing him on the Griffon rescue site and falling in  love.   At first, he was very nervous about everything even other dogs.  Gradually at his own pace, he has come out of his shell, some would say too far out, he is quite vocal about letting you know what he wants.

Although he walks nicely on the lead he really doesn’t like anyone walking behind him even now.  As we do not know his history we have wondered why this was.  Recently he was at the vet’s with a suspected blockage in his bowel, he was given a scan and they found he had thirteen shotgun pellets in his bottom, so I guess this is the reason. (His bowel is fine now).

When we first had him he gobbled his food while watching our other dogs eat theirs, terrified they would take his, but now is much more relaxed.

This is the first Griffon Bleu I have owned and I don’t know if they are all as affectionate as Faro, he would let you cuddle him twenty-four hours if you had the time.  I have had several different breeds of dogs over the years but I have never known a dog look at me with so much love in his eyes. Obviously, he is a failed hunting dog, so he is a nose on legs, but enjoys his walks especially on the beach where he loves to lay down on the water’s edge.  He is a special little character and I wouldn’t be without him, it has been a long road for him but it has been well worth it.

Faro …enjoying life in the UK.


Yoshi is doing really well, he has grown quite a bit he now 50 kilo`s and really well muscled he is like small tank.

Because of his size and weight, he also has an undercut to bottom jaw I am now convinced that he is actually a cane corso. He is very good natured and gets on with other dogs, he has had his first trip to the UK last Xmas and met a lot different other dogs, unfortunately I couldn’t let him off the lead as my house is on the edge of a built up area, he does get very exited meeting other dogs and can be quite a handful jumping around and wanting to play. He is extremely playful dog, but he is also very cuddly he likes to get on my lap sometimes after breakfast and sometimes of an evening and goes to sleep.

He now has a girlfriend, another rescue dog from Spain. She has been with me since March and has settled in well, and is good playmate for Yoshi, play fighting and chasing around the garden, they both love toys and share them most of the time.

I`ve added some photos as you will see he is much bigger now than when you last saw him.


Yoshi. ( left )

Paddington, Texas and Gino…

After travelling around Europe for a few years in our motorhome with our Husky ‘Beau’ we settled on a place in the forest about 7km from Quillan. We are off grid and surrounded by beauty and open space. Unfortunately our dog Beau was killed by a vehicle in May this year. We were devastated by our loss and never contemplated another dog at that time.  Beau was an outside dog and we had failed to realise how much destructive wildlife he had actually kept of our homestead! We don’t like the idea of fences of any kind but the boar and deer soon made their presence felt!

After much consideration, we decided to visit the SPA at Carcassonne and see about perhaps adopting a rescue dog. Diane had spotted a dog on the website who was called Paddington! We visited the SPA and walked him out. We both felt that he was a dog we would get on with and after sleeping on it we decided to see if we could live together. After dealing with the process of adoption which was made very smooth and easy by all the staff at SPA we adopted Paddington.

It took ‘Paddington’ now renamed Hachi about a day to realise he liked us and wanted to stay!! He is the most brilliant dog. After some weeks we decided that we could cope with a companion for Hachi and as Hachi was such a good dog we returned to the SPA. And had a wander around seeing a few potential pals for Hachi. We spoke to our friend and contact at the SPA Moira to say that we were interested in a very sorry looking  Bull terrier, having some experience with the breed but as there were still some issues with his health we were prepared to wait!

Moira mentioned a possible home to home adoption of a very handsome husky cross looking for a new home due to a change of circumstances. We met the owners and Texas came home with us that day, and soon settled into his new home. A few weeks later Gino the EBT was ready for adoption! Well to cut a long story short, we are now 3 dogs richer, all with their own quirks and personalities but our lives are immensely enriched thanks to the excellent work done by the SPA.

Paddington, Texas and Gino..

Martha..( ex Joyce)

We rehomed “Joyce” who had been in the pound for quite some time and had been put in there with her sister due to their fighting.   Her sister had been rehomed quite soon after being in the pound but Joyce had been waiting some months to be rehomed.
“Joyce” arrived after a very stressful weekend not only for her, but for us, as her transport broke down and we weren’t really sure when she would be arriving.   We received a phone call when the transport arrived at Dover,and she eventually arrived about 3 hours later at 10pm on a Sunday evening, which was about 15 hours after she should have arrived.
“Joyce’s” first meeting with Maxwell our Weimarner was not good, she bit his ear quite badly.   As she had been travelling for a long period of time, she was very stressed and hyper and was not ready to go bed so my husband had to take her for a walk at 1am.
We decided to name her Martha and didn’t know if she would understand this, or us, being as she came from France and didn’t know if she understood french, spanish or English.
She didn’t seem to like other dogs, and attacked Maxwell quite a few times, as well as my sisters dog.   Maxwell became quite scared of her.     So not only did we have to deal with Martha but also help Maxwell over come his fear of her.
When I walked her, I had to constantly reassure her and scoured the internet for training tips on how to help her overcome her reaction to other dogs.
Luckily I was in contact with the owner of Martha’s sister, now named Lily, so we could compare notes and support each other, as this really helped in getting to understand Martha’s behaviour.
I would say that it took about 6 weeks for Martha’s behaviour to change, and to become de-stressed, and I would say that I think she felt quite threatened and scared at first.
It was difficult in the beginning as there was very little history about how her, and her sister had been treated, what training they had had, if any.   Martha didn’t seem to know many commands, and didn’t seem to know how to play with toys at all, which was quite sad.   She also didn’t know how to play with other dogs and still doesn’t completely, as when they start to chase her she becomes that frightened dog again and has to be called away just incase she attacks them.
The only thing she seemed to know how to do was sit, and give her paw which she did constantly for attention.   She barges Maxwell out of the way as she wants the attention, and she had to learn that she was not top dog.
My 13 year old daughter has been a great help in teaching her how to play, and she now plays tug with a teddy.   It is so lovely to see her play and be happy.   She is still quite scared of some toys and also the hairdryer and hoover, but every day she gets braver.
I have a shadow, constantly following me around the house and wanting attention, and if I go out, she would cry constantly even if my family were still at home.    Mind you the greeting I get when I get back is so overwhelming, its like Ive been gone for months rather than an hour or so.
However,  I can honestly say that the hard work, training and love is so worthwhile to see the change in her.   Martha now licks Maxwell’s ears and they even share beds.
Training is ongoing and it is so rewarding to see her learn, and she loves to “talk” as Dalmations do in her growly language.
I would definitely rehome a dog again, as it is so nice to give a dog a home rather than give up on them at the first hurdle.   You just need, patience, understanding, love and time.

Martha and Maxwell..friends at last!

Poppy’s training snippets – socialisation

“One size does not fit at” True

“Every dog is different” Also true

“They have their own characters and instincts” True too.


Only so much of your dog’s ability is innate, in other words, what they are born with, what they now become is up to you. My family pack is comprised of a scent hound, a sight hound and a herding dog. All completely different but the one thing they have in common is they are sociable and know how to behave in a human environment.

Socialisation is a subject very dear to my heart. Whilst I am going to approach this from the point of  view of having a new pup it applies equally to older dogs especially those from rescue centres who may not have been socialised as puppies.

The day I met Poppy, that fateful day when I was asked to foster her. When she crawled onto my lap on the floor of the SPA Carcassonne office and stole my heart, she was 3 months old and a very frightened little puppy. I will never know what happened to her but no pup should ever be that traumatised. Socialising her was of primary importance and as it was people who frightened her most I needed to expose her to as many as possible in a positive way. My friends, family and dog club members became willing guinea pigs but I also took her out and about to meet perfect strangers. She hasn’t completely overcome her fear and I still have to be vigilant but at almost 6 months olď she is now a confident young dog who can walk through a crowded market and settle beside me in a café.

Puppies by nature are generally friendly and curious. They learn by exploring the world around them, by smelling by tasting and touching, but mostly from their mother and by playing with their siblings and extended family. That, however, does not fit them for living in a human world so when we take on a puppy, or indeed any dog, it is up to us to teach it how to behave and survive in our environment.

The optimum age for socialising your new puppy is between 3 and 5-6 months of age. At 2 to 3 months they should have had their essential vaccinations and can be taken out and about. At 5-6 months the fear factor kicks in; this is basic survival instinct and anything unknown becomes something to be wary of. As you can see it is a very small window of opportunity!

What is socialisation

In simple terms, this is taking your pup out and about and exposing them to everyday life. To the market, a cafe, the school gates, along busy roads, where there are cyclists and joggers, to the duck pond or to meet the horses in the local farmer’s field. Making sure your dog says ‘hello to as many people and animals along the way as possible.The experiences your puppy has now will never be forgotten so positive encounters with people, including children, and other dogs/animals are very important and the time you consecrate to it will repay you many times over.  Conversely, bad experiences now may be difficult to overcome in the future.

A dog that has not been socialised often has no idea how to behave when placed in a social situation. A young child who has never played with other children and who is suddenly taken to a playground, or sent to a nursery, will have no idea how to interact with others in their peer group.  They may be frightened and run and hide or, through fear, may be aggressive in their attitude towards them. So it is with dogs and aggression through fear is the worst kind because it can be unpredictable. A frightened dog has only two options, flight or fight; if it feels trapped it will choose fight, often without warning.

If you have a dog school near you this is an excellent way to accustom your pup to other dogs and people in a safe environment. At a Puppy School you will be shown how to train your puppy effectively and without stress but even more important your little one will learn how to ‘play nicely’ with other puppies and to inhibit their bite.  They will meet other dogs of varying shapes and sizes and other humans too, (also of varying shapes and sizes!), with glasses and hats, big coats and umbrellas.  They will learn to walk on different surfaces, to go over jumps and small bridges and through tunnels.  All these experiences will help ensure that they will become a well-rounded dog, friendly to humans and other dogs, and one that you can take anywhere, which ultimately is what most of us want.

Dos and don’ts

Always be very calm around your dog. Shouting is ineffective, they hear better than you, and it will only serve to excite or frighten.

Your body language is important, be relaxed and smile at your dog.*

Always praise good behaviour and ignore unwanted behaviour. To be rewarded your dog will repeat the desired behaviour and unwanted behaviour will gradually disappear.

Most importantly NEVER reassure a frightened dog! This goes against our nature, we instinctively want to protect and cuddle, but this is the worst thing you could do. Your dog will perceive the reassurance as there bring something to be worried about.

Don’t force your dog to confront something it is worried about, work around it at a safe distance until they feel comfortable enough to approach. If the problem is a person then It’s imperative to allow your dog to make the first move. **

Shirley Reddell




*&** more on these subjects in another blog

Poppy’s Training Snippets – Toilet Training and Feeding

Poppy training snippets!

As well as being a trainer I also foster pups for the SPA at Carcassonne. It’s very rewarding!

Should you have the time to dedicate to this, new fosterers are always welcome and support is on hand.

As a trainer, it is easy to stand in front of a group of puppy parents and tell them “if you do this, the result will be.. “

In reality, the pups I’ve fostered have taught me a valuable lesson, one that I hope will make me a better trainer.

One size does not fit all!

Poppy is now 5 months old and already knows all the basic commands – sit down, come, stay and she walks well on the lead. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? I have put the training in place of course but can claim little credit I fear! That honour goes to my two other dogs from whom she has learned ( SIT/DOWN/COME/STAY ETC =REWARD !!!), plus she is part Border Collie, reputed to be one of the most intelligent breeds.

Indeed one size does not fit all but that just means that you need to adapt to the dog you have and these particular training guidelines apply to all.

In the next few episodes of Poppy’s training snippets we are going to cover, not sit, down, stay but the questions I most get asked at ‘dog school”.


Contact/teaching your dog its name


Separation Anxiety

Destruction in the home

Plus a subject very dear to my heart- socialisation.


Toilet training

For me, this follows on from cage training and is linked to feeding.

By training your dog to sleep in a cage /crate as described in the last snippet, and also in a leaflet obtainable from Dog Rescue Carcassonne, you will be well on the way to having a dog who sleeps all night and is clean/dry in the morning. This is because they are hardwired not to foul their own den/sleeping area. Imagine how it would be in a den with a whole litter of pups if they all pooed and peed where they slept. Yes, of course, there are accidents at first but every pup I have fostered and trained in this way has ‘got it’ within the first few days.

If you don’t want to use a crate for your dog do at least restrict the area they are allowed in unsupervised. A couple of movable child safety gates is all that is needed. Dogs need boundaries and a feeling of security and will settle much quicker if not allowed to roam. Place their bed in a corner, against a wall even under a table, but never in a corridor or the middle of a space. Some toilet training and behavioural problems are caused by anxiety due to too much freedom and the lack of a ‘safe’ place to sleep.

Puppies can, and will, poo up to 10 times a day and wee even more. Like young children, they cannot at this stage always control their bodily functions. So, to avoid ‘accidents’, ideally, take your pup out at regular intervals and always as soon as they have eaten/drunk, giving lavish praise when they ‘perform’.


Pups up to 6 months old need to eat 3 times a day (daily ration based on final adult weight  ÷3). Whatever food you choose, make sure it is good quality and suitable for puppies. Always weigh the food so you can monitor how much your pup is eating. To make sure your pup eats regularly never leave the food bowl on the floor. Place the bowl in front of your pup (if they have learned SIT now is a good time to reinforce this behaviour) if they refuse to eat or walk away, remove the bowl. Give no more food until the next mealtime and only the prescribed one-third ration. In this way, your pup will quickly learn to eat when food is given.

Bonus – regular food = regular poo

Dos and don’ts

Never tell your pup off for pooing or weeing in the ‘wrong’ place. They don’t know it is the wrong place, they may think you are telling them off for toileting which in turn could cause stress. You will almost certainly prolong the toilet training period.

It is us up to you to teach your new companion where to relieve themselves so just remove them to where they should go and clean up calmly. White household vinegar (vinaigre d’alcool) in solution is excellent for this purpose as it neutralises the smell of the urine.

Take your pup to the same place each time to ‘toilet’ as the scents will help them to ‘go’

Always praise your dog when they toilet outside in the ‘right place.

Never leave a food bowl on the floor. Your dog will learn to graze rather than eat properly. This will affect your dog’s ‘output’ and possibly the workings of his digestive system.

Always feed as good a quality food as possible.

Shirley Reddell






We knew that when we were ready to get a companion for our female Staffy after losing our male Staffy to cancer, it would be another rescue dog.

Luckily we came into contact with Dog Rescue Carcassonne and Moira suggested we might like to meet Jamie. We wanted an older dog who liked – or was indifferent to – cats as we have three.

We quickly fell in love with Jamie, she is such a gentle girl. She has fitted into our family – all rescued in one way or another – very well. She has a lot of energy and loves her walks, she also loves her cuddles and her food!

Adopting a dog or cat from a refuge makes sense and it frees up another place in the kennels/cattery.

Just want to say that we love Jamie to bits, she is a sweetheart!

Jamie ( right ) with Jess and Harry.


Artigo…Bleu de Gascogne

Three years after our last dog, a Grand Blue de Gascogne from France, passed away, we decided we wanted to take a dog again.Since me and my wife believe that it’s better to give a dog from a rescue a chance, rather than taking a puppy I started my online search for a new Blue de Gascogne.

Pretty quickly I came across a very friendly looking chap called Artigo. One problem, he was located in Carcassonne, 1250km’s away from our home in Utrecht, the Netherlands! So I emailed the Dog Rescue Carcassonne in my best French to see what the possibilities were. To my surprise, I quickly received an answer in perfect English.
It turned out that adopting Artigo was an easy and very affordable process. Within a few weeks, Artigo was delivered to our house in Utrecht by a special animal delivery van driven by a  friendly French couple.

Adopting a dog without meeting it beforehand is of course always a bit of a risk, however, because of the specific questions the staff at the Dog Rescue asked us and the footage of Artigo they provided we were confident that things would turn out to be OK.

Things turned out to be more than OK, Artigo arrived in perfect health and adapted superfast to our family life. He is now the most loyal and loveable companion we could ever ask for.My kids love him, he is perfect to take along for a jog and is an all-round heartthrob.He is the neighborhood’s favorite pet, we have a surplus of pet sitters and even at my daughter school, he steals the show.

A real family dog!…

All in all, we are very fortunate that the Dog Rescue Carcassonne entrusted us with Artigo.  We would highly recommend them and taking a rescue dog.


Beau..( ex Dumbo)

Hi, we were very privileged to be able to adopt Dumbo, renamed Beau,in January 2017. Having had two dogs at a time for many years, there was a void to be filled after my dog lost his fight to cancer at only six.

We knew about the great work refuges do in France, as our son lives in France, and has adopted a dog and currently fosters one, so for us adoption was the way to go.

After the necessary checks Beau arrived in Brisol UK very early, on 29th January after a long trip from France. He was initially very nervous as he was taken from the vehicle and into our home. Beau was greeted by our  Rottie Newfoundland  cross Abbie, with no incidents as she accepted him into her home. Nervously he approached me and I was able to fuss him hopefully reassuring all was well. Beau very quickly settled in, joining Abbie on the sofa making himself very much at home. He is much admired when were out as he is a very handsome boy. He loves attention from everyone and has a lovely temperament.

We have young grandchildren and they love him, for a big boy, he is very gentle and the little ones love to give him a treat as he takes it without snatching unlike Abbie who needs reminding of her manners, Beau laps up all the attention he is given from anyone.

Abbie and Beau are great friends,  they share the sofa at every opportunity and play well together.  Beau and Abbie sound like very good house dogs if someone knocks on the door but once inside people are greeted with waggy tails and much fuss. Beau being a hound  tends to bay with his bark causing much amusement to all who hear him.  Beau adores my husband, I believe it’s because in the first few days he was with him whilst I was at work, but more likely it’s because he has a affinity with all animals and all seem to love him. I am a poor second but still get love and greetings from Beau and cuddles on the sofa. Beau loves the beach, being off the lead is work in progress as he does tend to follow others and ignores the command to return finding the people or dog he’s following much more interesting. He is happy to be left with Abbie for short periods if we have to leave them at home, but gets very distressed if John has to take Abbie out without him even though I’m there. I don’t get this reaction from Beau so think it’s seperation from John issues which were working on.

We don’t regret our choice to adopt Beau, he has our hearts, is part of our family and brings us so much pleasure. As I said at the start we are privileged to have Beau and have no regrets. We hope this encourages others to.

Beau ( ex Dumbo)