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Author Archives: Moira

Gismo Arrives and Lisbon Leaves..

Today was hot but never the less lots of volunteers turned up and lots of dogs enjoyed their walks. I am sure that the doggies know that its Satuarday and when all the cars start to arrive excitement reaches fever point as they wonder when they will get their walk!

One dog arrived today who I have to say I feel very sorry for. This lovely six year old border collie has found itself in the chaos of the refuge and the poor girl was unhappy and stressed before she even arrived.

None of us ever think that we would abandon our dogs but sometimes life throws some cruel blows and we find ourselves in circumstances in which we can’t cope. Dogs are clever, especially border collies and even although Gismos mum tried her best to cope and find a solution, Gismo became more and more stressed and unhappy. This downwards spiral led to Gismo coming to the refuge today so we need to find an experienced loving home for this sad girl!

We understand that giving up your dog is one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make. By entrusting us with their care you’ll have peace of mind that our compassionate staff and volunteers will look after them really well until we can find them a loving new home.

Now that Gismo is at the refuge we can assess her and determine what kind of home would suit her best but if you are a border collie lover and think that you could offer her a home then please, please get in touch.

The lucky dog who wont be in kennels tonight is Lisbon! This two year old shepherd cross arrived at the refuge in May for the second time in his life. I hope that this time its his forever family!

Who will give Gismo the fresh start that she needs?


Lucky Lisbon…adopted!



Better Off With Us..

Lots of people are understandably horrified when they come to the SPA. There are lots of dogs, barking and circling in cages who are desperate for attention and for some people this is very overwhelming,

I remember the first day that I came along to volunteer I was really shocked at how small the kennels were, how big and bouncy the dogs were, how little exercise the dogs could get and how stressful an environment it was for any dog, but then as I learnt more about the reality of rescue I realised that these dogs were the lucky ones!

Lots of dogs are living in home environments which are not ideal. The dogs are neglected and left to their own devices, are allowed to stray, are not trained or even given basic vet care and when dogs are allowed to do as they please its an accident waiting to happen in more ways than one! Stray dogs cause accidents and are killed on the road, toilet where they please and as most of them aren’t sterilised you can imagine the consequences there…..

When some dogs are brought in by either a member of the public or the police municipal we really hope that they are not claimed by their irresponsible owners. This gives us a chance to get them seen by a vet, get them vaccinated and sterilised, provide them with regular meals and get to know them whilst we look for a forever family where they will loved and cared for. Its sad but amazing how trusting a dog becomes when he realises that food arrives every day and its really heart-warming to see a dog who arrives just skin and bones, flourish and relax into refuge life!

These dogs thrive when they go to their new family and really appreciate being cared for and looked after. They become loyal, faithful companions who will stick to you like glue, after all they have seen how hard life is as a stray and they don’t want to go back there ever again!

Being the 15th August, a public holiday in France, the SPA was closed so tomorrow we will catch up on the coming and goings!

Stivell – skin and bone when he arrived!


He is thriving now and waiting for his forever home!














Puppy Jenga Leaves..

Today puppy Jenga left with her forever family after only 12 days at the SPA. The family came along to meet her last week and were so delighted with this cute and friendly little girl, they reserved her on the spot. From when a dog arrives as a stray there is an official waiting period which allows the owners time to claim the dog and today the new owners breathed a sigh of relief when they learnt that they could collect her!

We have lots of pups waiting for their forever home but remember that puppies require a lot of time and attention. They need you to care for them, love them, spend time with them, teach them and just be their best friend. You wouldn’t leave a baby isolated,spending most of his time by himself and you should not isolate your puppy for any length of time either. Four-legged babies need to be with the family inside and outside the house.

Once you have made the decision to adopt one of our pups what are you going to need.? Well there are a few basics such as food dish, water dish, leash, collar and a crate or sleeping area with bedding.

Think about what part of the house that the pup is going to stay in and make sure that all  objects that you don’t want chewed are well out of reach. Shoes, cushions and bags are favourites with pups but as its natural for a pup to chew, providing suitable chew toys is essential as if you don’t he will most definitely find his own! Some people prefer to restrain a pup to one area where accidents are easily dealt with.

When a pup leaves the SPA we will tell you what food it has been eating. Make sure that you have a suitable puppy food ready and do any transition to this new food slowly.

So a little forethought and preparation will get you through the first few weeks of puppyhood but don’t forget that we can advise you on any little problems that you come up against like toilet training or mouthing.

Lucky Jenga didn’t have long to wait on her forever family but lots of others are still waiting. If you are thinking about a pup why not pop along, have a chat and meet some. Just remember to pop into reception and ask to see the pups before touching any adult dogs. This minimises the risk of infection and we like to keep our pups as safe as possible!

Jenga – Adopted!



Scampi – Still Waiting!


Demetra – Still waiting!



Pip’s Long Journey Home…

When Pip arrived at the SPA in April a tiny, terrified pup, little did she know just how much her luck was going to change!  Foster places for pups are scarce but as luck would have it Lisa our puppy fosterer extraordinaire had a place free!

Lisa is a vet nurse and has four dogs and cats of her own so puppy Pip was ensured the best of care and lots of socialisation.  This is so very, very important for a pup and has such a massive effect on its future that we would love every pup that comes into our care to receive it.

Pip thrived in Lisa’s care and it wasn’t long before she was available for adoption. Angie and family who adopted Garfield and who are massive Brittany spaniel lovers noticed Pip on our facebook page and contacted us right away. The only problem was that they live in Cruden Bay, Scotland and Pip was in Carcassonne, South West France.

Logistics have never been a problem for us at the SPA Carcassonne and if we know that there is an experienced loving home waiting we will pull out all stops to get the dog there. Again luck came into play and as I was driving home to Dundee on the 1st August it was the perfect opportunity for Pip to travel home with me to Scotland.

I collected Pip on Friday afternoon and we set off on our journey later that evening. As it was scorching hot in France, even with air conditioning and cool mats its not comfy for the dogs in the car during the day so we travelled through France overnight. This worked well as the dogs were sleepy, cool and comfy and as we needed fewer stops we made good time, arriving in Scotland 26 hours later!

Angie and her hubby drove down to Dundee and when they saw Pip I could tell that their hearts just melted. Pip was delighted to meet them and jumped in their car without a backward glance. Later that evening she met her new brother Garfield and Angies two lovely daughters Rylee and Brodie. Angie did say that they were at home in bed and I have to say that I thought to myself that there is no way that they will be asleep when they know a new pup is on its way!

Pip is the sixth SPA Caracssonne dog to come to Scotland for their forever family, I wonder who will be next?

There was also good news at the refuge today, Teddy who arrived yesterday after bring found loose was reclaimed which is great news as I am sure that he would have hated being back in the refuge after having a family of his own!

Pip’s First Paws In Scotland



Pip and Garfield – A stunning pair!



Pip, Garfield and Eclat ( Angie’s mums dog, also a SPA Caracssonne dog of course)!






A ‘Drunk’ Boxer…

Yesterday afternoon I left the SPA early so that I had plenty of time to walk my dogs and settle them before leaving for an evening of Status Quo in La Cite.

I walked the dogs, answered my email and called the dogs for their supper. Phoebe, my boxer cross jumped up from the sofa, wobbled like she was drunk and fell on her side. Although she was a bit ‘dazed’ she never lost consciousness and recovered quite quickly but I was taking no chances so she was right off to the vets. My local vet has an ‘open’ surgery from 5-7pm every night where you can simply turn up without an appointment so into the car and off we went.

Although it wasn’t really hot yesterday I was terrified it was heat stroke or that she had been poisoned and I was mentally ticking off lists of symptoms in my head as I drove. I remembered that she had been sick on Saturday evening and had seemed just a little slow on her walks on Sunday and Monday but otherwise had seemed OK. No change in her eating habits that’s for sure!

At the vets she had a thorough check over, temperature, heart, eyes and then he looked in her ears. And there the problem lay…an ear infection. So antibiotics and ear cleaner and she will be fine.

So what are the symptoms of an ear infection? Well there are many and Phoebe ddnt have most of them. This is the first ear infection that any of my dogs have had so was a learning process for me.

Here are some of the most common symptoms:

scratching at the head or ears

shaking the head

odour and/or discharge from the ears

redness and inflammation in the ears

hair loss and possibly scabs around the ears which extend to the head and neck areas also


Of course I missed Status Quo, I was not going to leave her alone after that but never mind there is always next year!

At the refuge today four dogs arrived and three of them were collected before closing time! Thats great news as the temperatures are set to rise!

An ear infection…Phoebes didnt look as bad as this thank goodness!

ear infection


Scratching is another symtom!


The Reality Of Summer At The SPA..

Today was hot but not too hot so the volunteers were able to walk the dogs and put them in the parks. This is a great relief for the dogs whose life in a concrete kennel in the summer heat is no fun! Adopters are far and few between at this time of year and adult dogs are competing with cute pups for what homes that there are available.

We have had lots of new arrivals, one today and two yesterday. All of these dogs were found as stays and brought in and I wonder if any of them will be claimed. Do we have so many dogs who are not claimed because people don’t know what to do if they lose their dog or are these people glad to get rid of them?

If you do lose your dog don’t worry about contacting us…social media is very powerful and its amazing how many people we can reach through our page.  So below is a reminder of who to contact and what information you will need to provide. You will need the dogs breed, colour, sex, age, identification ( microchip or tattoo number), collar and disk details.

-Let the local Mairie know

-Contact the Police Municipal.

-Call the local vets.

-If your dog is micro chipped or tattooed call the database provider and let them know it is lost, where it went missing and make sure that they have all of your contact numbers.

-Register the lost dog on chien perdu (http://www.chien-perdu.org/) This is the French equivalent of Dog Lost UK.

-Call or email the SPA Carcassonne 0468253545 / website@dogrescuecarcassonne.co.uk ( send us a picture we will circulate it on our pages)

-Visit the SPA in person. Take a photo and leave details of you dog and your contact details. Walk around the kennels and look in each cage. Return in a few days and do the same. Keep coming back.
If your French isn’t good enough to do these things don’t despair, we will help. We have numerous English volunteers who will assist. Just drop us an email or when calling the refuge give the receptionist your number and an English speaker will call you back.Posters are a great idea and you can print them directly from the chien perdu site. Speak to other dog walkers and let everyone know to keep their eyes open.

If your dog is micro chipped and it’s a British Chip the refuges or vets here will struggle to locate your details. Even if we can see that the dog is registered for example with Pet Log, you are reliant on refuge staff or the vet speaking English so that they can contact them. We are lucky as we do have English speakers but many refuges don’t. There is a very easy solution to this. You can register the dogs chip on the French system whilst leaving it on the British one. Any vets can give you the forms to do this and means that if your dog is lost in France you can be contacted very quickly!

Todays new arrival..hot and terrified!


Yesterdays new arrivals..





Keeping Cool In The Car…

In light of the terrible news yesterday about Merlin the Pug who died on the P&O Calais to Dover ferry we thought that we reiterate the dangers of dogs in hot cars at this time of year. Merlins death was horrific and we send our condolences to the family. RIP Merlin!

This blog is to make everyone think about their travel plans and absolutely no reflection on yesterdays events!

When you are travelling with dogs in hot conditions there are several ways to ensure that they stay safe but there are also many considerations and sometimes day time travel just too hot and not safe.

Do you have efficient air conditioning, if not how will you keep the car cool enough for the dog. If you don’t, even with windows open, when the ambient air temperatures is in the twenties or above its every hard for dogs to cool themselves.

What happens if you breakdown in searing temperatures where there is no shade, what are you going to do to ensure the dog stays safe?

Well here is what we recommend for very hot days:

No air conditioning, don’t take you dog. Instead travel at night, early morning or late evening.

Take water in a cool box and stop frequently to give the dog a drink.

Check the inside temperature of the car regularly, if it’s too hot stop!

Use cool mats / coats.

Sun visors on the windows can help keep out direct sunlight.

Monitor you dogs all the time!

Keep something in your car to make temporary shade in case you break down…a sun umbrella or a cage with a sheet is ideal.

All these measures will help you stay safe with your dog but if you do have to travel any distance why not travel at night, you may arrive a bit bleary eyed but you will have a less stressed dog! Don’t forget that if you are travelling to the UK at peak times, you may very well have an hours queue to check in to the ferry or Eurotunnel.  Many people aren’t prepared for this and it turns a half hour Eurotunnel ‘crossing’ into a lot longer a journey. Even with air conditioning this is simply too much for many dogs so don’t risk your animal’s health and only travel when you know you can keep them safe!

R.I.P Merlin!



Travel safe and keep cool!







Yesterday’s Six Arrivals!

Today’s blog is a catch up on yesterday’s arrivals and the news isn’t good. We had 5 dogs arrive who were found straying and one dog who was brought in to be abandoned!

It is however encouraging that out of the five found that four of them were identified so now begins the task of trying to reunite the lost dogs with their owners. When a dog arrives identified we can check the central data base for details of his owner. This sounds easy but often people move and forget to update the details on the database so it’s then that the real detective work begins.

Even if your dog is identified it saves a lot of time and effort if they are wearing a collar with a disk with your phone number on it. Then we simply call you up with the good news that your dog is safe and you can come along and collect him and if the dog arrives identified there is no charge. We do realise that it’s easy for a dog to get a scare and bolt, for someone to leave a door open etc so don’t feel embarrassed about contacting us as we are there to help you!

Once we track down the owners then we have to hope that they actually want their dog back. Now to us this seems very strange but not wanting to take the dog back is happening more and more often and really is very sad.  So do these owner just breathe a sigh of relief that the dog is with us in the knowledge that we are a no kill shelter. If they do, I wonder if they realise the life that they are abandoning their dogs to?

Life in the refuge in summer is hell for these dogs, 30-40 degree heat in a small concrete kennel with few adopters as everyone is thinking about holidays rather than adopting. When it’s so hot we can’t walk the dogs, the concrete kennel is their life! To top that there are cute pups to compete with for the few homes that are available. Life is not going to be easy for them.

If you read yesterday’s blog you will remember Chico, Disco and Carlo who have been waiting for nearly three years…..that could be the fate of your dog. Please look at other options before abandoning!

Yesterdays Arrivals:

Baika – Identified



Marla – Identfied 



Halbus – Identified


Rocco – Indentified 



A shepherd cross – not identified





Hard To Home…

In the last few years lots of things have changed for the better at the SPA Carcassonne. We have not euthanized due to lack of space for many years and this is due to both fantastic staff and volunteers who spend lots of their own time advertising, promoting and moving dogs to super homes. We now sterilise all females and most males and we provide back up advice on any problems that you might have.

Its not too difficult to home the cute and cuddlies but what about the big, the black, the hyper dogs or the lovely kitty who takes a swipe at anyone who pets him ?  How do we find them homes? Although many of the dogs at the SPA find homes within a few weeks, some have more specific requirements, which make it harder to find them a home. They might be older, have medical requirements or just need some training but some dogs are just simply being overlooked.

Finding homes for so-called “hard-to-place” pets is about taking responsibility, good marketing, and providing support. In some cases, these animals are actually easier to place than so-called “perfect” pets! Many adopters like to feel that they are helping a special animal. Finding homes for “hard-to-place” animals requires attention, resources and marketing, but it certainly can and is being done and ever so slowly and carefully we are finding kind committed homes for our long term residents. We are always very up front about any issues and can help provide solutions as well!

Taking responsibility means abandoning negative thinking and changing gears. Social media is a fantastic resource which we are using more and more to promote our dogs.  If you see one of our long term resident’s details please, please take a second to share their profile. The more people that we can reach the greater the chance of finding forever homes for these deserving dogs!

Here are a few of our overlooked dogs:

Chico is 5 and has been with us for nearly 3 of them!



Disco is also 5 and has been with is for 30 months!


Carlo is 4 and has been with us 28 months!




Cats and Dogs….

After yesterday’s high of Taser leaving I was gutted to get a phone call this morning to say that Taser was coming back as he was alarmingly reactive to the cats.

This came as a very big shock as Taser was tested numerous times with cats at the SPA and was fine. I do understand that its devastating to decide to rescue a dog, specify that they must be ok cats as you have 4 and then the dog attack them. We would never expect someone to put their animals at risk so we will be looking for a cat free home for Taser!

When we cat test a dog at the refuge we begin by walking them past the cat enclosure. If they aren’t too reactive we take them in on a leash and carefully monitor their reactions. So why are some dogs OK in the cat house yet once they get home they chase the family cat? Is it because the dogs are overwhelmed by the smell and ‘freeze’ or is it because they are terrified and dare not react. I would love to know how other refuges do this and today I will start asking around.

Careful and slow introductions are a must but please think this though and if you have multiple cats how are you going to organise this? The logistics of this can mean the difference between the dog succeeding or not so it’s very important to get this right.

Hers is how I do the inroductions:

Initially I separate them to give the dog time to settle and to relax. I then wait until evening, when the dog is tired, put it on a lead and bring a cat in. If the dog looks at the cat without reacting I will praise and give it a treat.

I start exposing the dog gradually, building up from a few minutes so it becomes used to seeing the cat. When it’s not reacting to seeing the cat I encourage to cat to move about the room….again praise the dog when it sees the cat moving and doesn’t react.

It’s important to make sure the dog is exercised and calm when you do the introductions and that the cat has an escape route. I use baby gates on doors and always have a leash on the dog so I can grab or stand on it if necessary.

Be reralistic..who remembers Hood  ( now Ringo) who went to the a rescue in the UK in Febuary? Well he went to live with a very experienced family who have rescued and trained quite a few dogs.  Had the UK rescue not known this family personally and known how well they cope with training issues he would never have been rehomed with cats. It took this family weeks and weeks of training before he accepted cats and even longer to stop him chasing them. They knew what they were taking on and were prepared to put the work in!

If you offer a home to a rescue dog and you already have a cat please, please bear in mind that you may have work to do and that it may take time.

If you want this be prepared to work at introductions..



Careful introductions, making sure both cat and dog are safe..