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Author Archives: Moira

The Tide Is Turning – 2 out 2 in!

Yesterday and today were nice days at the refuge. The sun was shining and four new volunteers turned up to walk dogs so even although one more of the litter of twelve Anatolian Shepherds arrived as well as a 10 year old spaniel,we are feeling positive. We also had an unexpected adoption! Apache our nine year old Brittany spaniel has left with a super couple who are well known to the SPA!

Eclat our last elderly Brittany spaniel had no sooner left for Scotland when Apache arrived. This poor boy had been wandering in a village for about a month before being brought to us and he certainly seemed grateful for regular meals and attention. He has thrived since arriving at the SPA and was so happy to be leaving with a new mum and dad.

Today there was more good news when Cleopatra left with Graham and Elaine. Cleopatra arrived at the refuge in March this year, along with her sister Nefertiti. When Cleopatra arrived she was sedated as she was thought to be a ‘wild’ dog so we were very cautious as she woke up. She may well have been a stray but she certainly wasn’t wild and we quickly saw what an affectionate young girl she was. Her sister,Nefertiti was quickly adopted and now after a seven month wait, today was Cleo’s day!

Graham and Elaine live in the UK and had been keeping an eye on our website for a while and actually spotted another of our dogs who they flew over to meet. Now if someone is willing to fly over from the UK to meet a dog we know that they are serious. But as is often the case when you actually meet the dogs, walk and play with them , your heart goes elsewhere which was of course very lucky for Cleo! Cleo will have the best of both worlds spending lots of time in both France and the UK, what an exciting life for the scared ‘wild’ dog who arrived a few months ago!

So that’s Cleo our youngster and Apache our elderly gent in happy homes tonight and there will be more dogs leaving later on this week, so watch this space!

Don’t forget to read Pitchous story, ‘A Shaggy Dog Tale’ on our Life After the Refuge page, its well worth the read!

Apache our elderly gent.



Cleopatra left today.


The forth Anatolian Shepherd pup has arrived!

Anatolian Shep

Things can only get better…..

After the  sad news of two dogs being returned within 2 weeks of being in their new families and then the news of all the entries over the last few days,  I thought that today we would concentrate on our successes.  Habbie and Mojitos return was very sad but looking at the facts and figures its only 5% of Septembers adoptions, that’s 95% of our adoptions have resulted in happy dogs in loving families.

So lets have a look at some of Septembers happy dogs:-

First of all there is Pollux, a Griffin Korthal cross who arrived at the refuge when he was only ten months old. This boy was a real stunner and why it took 7 months to rehome him is a mystery but maybe he was just waiting for the perfect family. And true enough in September we were contacted by Caroline and Vince who had seen his picture on our website and were sure that they could offer Pollux a forever home. After many emails and calls they reserved Pollux online and drove down to pick up up on the 25th September. When they met Pollux it was love at first sight and so a happy dog and happy owners set off for home. A five hour journey was nothing for Pollux who traveled like a dream and has fitted right in to their lifestyle. He is loving his new life walking in the vineyards and swimming in the river Lot. Caroline is just about to retire but commutes from London on the same plane as my hubby so I am going to meet Pollux at the airport on Thursday nights….I cant wait to see this handsome boy again!

Lucky is the perfect example of there being a perfect family for every dog! Lucky, a two and a half year old shepherd cross arrived at the refuge in March 2012 and for some reason didn’t attract much attention. Maybe he too was just waiting for the right owner as the fantastic updates we have had since his adoption last week are enough to bring tears to your eyes! Lucky has a playmate Ami, a young Doberman who was very used to being an only dog, but clever Lucky minded his manners and behaved impeccably and within a couple of days they were best friends.  So Lucky has gone from the refuge to a very loving home, with a playmate, long walks and snoozes on the couch…bliss!

Bronx is the 10 week old pup that I took to Bordeaux last week. This young chap was very well behaved en route in the car with my dogs and was delighted to meet his new mum and dad. He was especially pleased to meet his new ‘brother ‘ Hugo who is a young, very friendly Griffon cross, desperate for a playmate so there are bound to be lots of fun and games for Bronx. Bronx will have 2 ha to run free in so I can’t think of a better life for a Border Collie x Griffon!

Watch our ‘Life After The Refuge’ page for Pitchous story and without giving too much away all I am saying is have tissues at the ready!

Habbie and Mojito have now gone to super, experienced homes so hopefully this little upset will already be forgotten ! Its true that we may have had more dogs arrive than nearby refuges who euthanize but we pride ourselves on happy healthy dogs, super adoptions and a fantastic team of volunteers. We will move heaven and earth to get good homes for our dogs and whats more we have a clear conscious because we care!

 Pollux with his mum.

9.27.13 Pollux (4)

Lucky trying his best to keep up with Ami

both are a bit tired now (1)


Bronx with his new friend Hugo





The Famous (Scottish) Five!

When spirits are low and adoptions are few and far between the news of our former SPA dogs really brightens us up, especially when we see how happy and how lucky the dogs have been to go to such super families.

The first update is of Melba, the beautiful Braque Allemande who traveled with me from France to Scotland to find her forever family.  Melba has been with Stuart and Juliette for eight weeks now and is doing fantastically well. Again another dog who was abandoned as an boisterous youngster who had received no training whatsoever so it was back to puppy basics and toilet training was the first issue to address. Melba had no idea that outside was for toileting and I am sure she had had the odd hit for weeing inside as after she weed, she ran, but after eight weeks she is getting the hang of it and there is now only the odd accident. The next issue to be addressed was separation anxiety and she really howled when left alone. This was going to be a problem as Stuart and Juliette work during the day and Melba was still howling even after a long early morning walk.  To help Melba get over this a doggy walker comes in to take her out mid-morning . This is working well and already she has begun to settle for short periods alone and isn’t barking when the walker comes to collect her at 11am or when Stuart returns from work at 5pm. She has already had six sessions at dog training class and has learnt to sit and stay but most importantly is learning to come back when called. This is just as well as Melba spends her weekends on the hills and just loves running free. Well done Stuart and Juliette!

Melba – Loves The Hills



Maddie  ( ex Malaga) our Bleu de Gascogne has also come on in leaps and bounds.  This timid girl quickly found her paws in Scotland and has settled really well with Elinor and Dave. Having two others dogs in the household has helped Maddie gain confidence and she is loving all the exciting Scottish smells. She loves her walks in the woods and her tail is now up and wagging instead of between her legs! Maddie is going through the ‘puppy’ stage of stealing socks and anything she can get hold of which is only natural as she has never learnt otherwise. This is nothing to Elinor who has lots of doggy experience and is using clicker to train Maddie!

Maddie enjoying the Scottish Sun!



Handsome Garfield is settling into family life beautifully and adores the children. Regular walks and jogging with his new dad is really helping him settle and he is much, much calmer even although he is in a very busy household.  Garfield really is the perfect example of how well our boisterous youngsters do with a bit of guidance and exercise.  What a difference in his life now as a much loved family dog to his life a month ago which was spent jumping at the bars in a concrete kennel!

Handsome Garfield with his new family!


Eclat, who went to stay with Garfields ‘granny’ settled well from day one. This came as no surprise as we knew he was a gentle natured calm boy. Hes loving his walks on the beach as well as his home comforts so is proving to be the perfect retirement companion!  This boy had been kicked out of two villages where he had been straying before arriving at the SPA, now he has a loving home, a warm bed and regular food, this must be bliss for lovely Eclat!

Eclat our calm gentle boy!



Django , our nine year old Ariegeois is exploring the highlands and islands of the Outer Hebrides .  Sue and Mark must take all the credit for Django looking so well, they have done so well and he is now a happy confident boy. It really brings a tear to my eye when I think of the skinny, anxious, terrified dog who left us…just look at him now!

Django – Wow, he looks so well!



So a massive thank you to those of you who have taken on boisterous youngsters like Melba, Maddie or Garfield and to those who have taken an older dog like Ecalt or Django.  It really validates all our efforts when we see happy dogs in loving families!



Habbie’s Happy To Have a Home..

Habbie is an eleven month old chocolate pedigree Labrador who arrived at the refuge early August. She was bought from a breeder and its strange that the owners paid so much money for her but were so quick to abandon her when they recently moved house. She’s a typical young Labrador, bouncy, full of fun and in need of some training but today was her lucky day as she was adopted by a lovely young couple with a four year boy and who have a large enclosed garden so there is sure to be lots of fun for Habbie.

One other youngster wasn’t so lucky. We were absolutely horrified to find a young spaniel type dog tied to the refuge gates mid-afternoon! What kind of person would abandon their dog like this without having the guts to drive in and ensure the dog was handed over safely, then just drive off? A coward, and I really hope karma bites them in the butt!

When we look at the ages of the dogs abandoned at the SPA it comes as no surprise to see that a large proportion of the dogs are adolescents. We see a lot of unruly young dogs aged between 6 and 18 months who have had no training and have become too much for their owners to handle. A cute puppy jumping up at you can be amusing, but it’s much less funny when the dog jumping up is a fully grown Newfoundland! All of these undesirable behaviors are avoidable if a dog is trained and socialized correctly but its surprising how many people seem to think that pups will train themselves!

For the youngsters who arrive and have never been adequately socialized or had any training, all they need is a new start. All their issues are very easy overcome and with a bit of patience and understanding you will be amazed at how quickly these dogs learn and become superb family pets. We do try our best to teach these youngsters lead skills and to get them socialised as much as possible and its very rewarding to see a dog who pulled like a tractor, trotting alongside you to heel. Don’t forget if you get a dog from us and encounter any behavioral problems we are more than happy to give advice. We are really lucky to have 2 dog trainers who are staff members as well as  volunteers so you are never alone!

So go on, why not give one of our adolescents a fresh start in life!

Habbie, adopted today.


But Flurry needs a home..



And so does Shakira..





Cologne’s Chasse Days Are Over!

September means the start of the hunting season in France, or la chasse, and it can be quite a shock to see a group of hunters heading past your house.

Each Sunday you will see the countryside dotted with vans and cars and will hear the distinctive howl of hounds as they flush out or chase the game. You are sure to cross a group of hunters heading off into the woods with guns slung over their shoulders so if you are out walking its wise to wear bright clothing.  I would strongly advise keeping your dogs on the leash, one in case they are ‘accidentally’ shot and two because the hunt dogs have on many occasion swarmed my dogs and some dogs could find this very intimidating. You would think that the hunters would have trained dogs so could simply call their dogs away, not a chance! Most chasse dogs are hunting by instinct alone and have had no or little training!

So it is no great surprise that when the dogs are following their instinct, lots get themselves lost and that is why we at the SPA dread this season. We will soon be inundated with hunt dogs, who have only known life in kennels and are fearful of humans and often other dogs! We still have dogs waiting on homes that arrived about this time last year and a year is far too long to spend at the SPA! All chasse dogs should be identified but very few are, as this legislation, like lots of legislation regarding the chasse in France is not enforced. This unfortunately makes it very easy for the hunters to abandon dogs who aren’t good hunters, who are too old or are hurt and need vet treatment. The SPA of course is expected bear the brunt of their irresponsibility!

Cologne is one dog who will never have to hunt again. She arrived at the SPA in March this year, at the end of the hunting season, abandoned with her sister Bonn. Bonn was quickly adopted and today at last Cologne is leaving for a life where she doesn’t have to work for her dinner.  Instead of life in a kennel or shed , regular food and home comforts await her as well as lovely playmate for company.  This will be bliss for Cologne who was underweight and bedraggled when she arrived, I wish all of our chasse dogs could be so lucky!

Cologne – Adopted Today



Molly who is still waiting!



Gaspard still needs a home!


Au Revoir France…Hello Scotland!

Yesterday you heard the news from Darcey that Malaga, Garfield and Eclat have left the refuge. They have at last left France and tomorrow morning will be arriving in Hull. Once again we have transported three dogs a long way so that they have a chance of the life that they deserve, it really is a long way but a couple of days travelling is nothing if it secures their future happiness.

Yesterday afternoon, my car full of crates as well as collars, leads and harnesses I set off to collect the dogs from the refuge. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and all three had been playing together in the park so were tired enough that it wasn’t too much of a struggle to wrestle them into their harnesses! When we are transporting dogs we take great care of them and take no chances, they have properly fitted collars, harnesses,we use double ended leads and they are in cages so are always nice and secure.They seemed to know that this was their chance of freedom and settled quickly in their cages.

Next stop was my house where the three were staying overnight before a very early morning start. I was expecting chaos and was pleasantly surprised at how well they all behaved. A evening stroll and then roast chicken and rice for dinner went down a treat and they scoffed this like they had never seen food before! They were the tucked up in bed by nine o’clock and we never heard a peep out of  them all night.

When Malaga arrived at the refuge she was taken straight to the vets as she had been viciously attacked by another dog. It took time to build up her confidence but eventually she was able to share a kennel with Piper, a lovely braque cross. Who knows what life she had before arriving at the SPA but tomorrow she will meet her forever family who live near Edinburgh. With two doggie friends and  a large enclosed garden, I am sure that she will come on leaps and bounds, what a lucky girl!

Garfield was adopted from the SPA as a puppy and brought back 2 years later as being “completely unmanageable”, which roughly translates as “we haven’t trained him, so we are dumping him! Hes a lively boy who needs some training but that shouldn’t be a problem as he is very intelligent. Regular walks on the North East of Scotland’s lovely beaches will soon tire him out and I bet he will be a fantastic family dog!

Lovely Eclat is going to live with Garfields owners mum who has had spaniels and was looking for a companion for her retirement. He will love this role, he loved being out of kennels last night and couldn’t believe his luck getting chicken for dinner.He then found a place on the sofa, put his head down and gave a big sigh…he definitely knew he was on his way to a special place!

It was dark at 5am when they left with my hubby, Roy.  It was a long 10 hours drive for both Roy and the dogs but as you read this they are crossing the North Sea on the Zeebrugge – Hull Ferry. They have all behaved impeccably and have had several walks enroute! When they arrive at Hull they will be met by Malaga’s mum Elinor who will take the three of them up to Edinburgh. There Garfield and Eclat will meet their new families.

So three more doggies, all French breeds, have the chance of a lifetime in Scotland and the good thing is that when I am home in November I will be able to visit them all!

Today’s not so good news is the arrival of another eight pups! This is devastating news so moral at the refuge is very low today. Once again I ask, please, please sterilize your dogs!

Garfield looking very pleased with himself..He was only on the sofa so I could practice the off command of course!






Pet Peeves..

Well not much has happened at the refuge today so I thought that I would discuss things that annoy us about other dog owners. We all have our little peeves with other doggie owners so here are some of mine and please feel free to comment with yours. This could be quite interesting!

I suppose what angers me the most is people who don’t pick up after their dog. Not only is it unsightly but toxocariasis from dog poo can cause partial blindness in children and I am sure no one would want to be responsible for that! Not much better are the owners who allow their male dogs to lift their legs on your house walls. Boys will be boys and all that but please take them to a suitable area to toilet!

Next on the list has to be owners who let their off leash dogs run up to my dogs. Now don’t get me wrong, my dogs spend 90% of their walk time off leash but they are under control. I really hate when I see a dog bounding towards mine, not because I don’t want my dogs to socialise with others but because one of my dogs is a rescue who was never properly socialised and who I have spent years training so she can be around other dogs. This means that she needs careful introductions to others and needs space and time to get to know another dog. Letting your uncontrolled youngster bound into my dogs space simply undoes all that training so please bear in mind that not all dogs want to speak to your dog even if he is friendly! Now we all know that pups and youngsters that are learning sometimes just get it wrong and if the owner is trying to get their dog back I don’t mind as much as when they are ignoring their dogs cheeky behaviour or are on their mobile phone pretending not to notice, leaving me to cope with a potential dog fight!

Extending leads have their place and can be great but we have all seen people with dogs at the end of the leash on the pavement near traffic. When using the leash like this you have no directional control so if your dog takes off into the middle of the road they are not only risking their lives but risk causing an accident too!

Then there are the owners who don’t sterilise their dogs and allow then to roam but last and not least are owners who see their dogs as things, to be given away or abandoned when the pet becomes too inconvenient for them and we certainly meet lots of these owners at the SPA every day!

So come on, tell us what really annoys you about other pet owners, we might all learn something from these posts!

Dog poo2




Sterilise Your Dogs…Please!

In light of today’s news, the arrival of three more pups, I thought that we would deal with the benefits of sterilising your dogs!

The biggest benefit of course is that the animals can no longer breed and multiply, thereby the stray animal population will eventually decrease. This means that the SPA would no longer be saturated and our adolescent and more matured dogs would have a greater chance of being adopted!

Sterilising animals eliminates the desire to find a mate. This means fewer animals running off or wandering into traffic; chasing or biting people or their pets. Loose dogs also toilet whenever and wherever they like and as well as looking unsightly this spreads disease. A cleaner, happier and healthier environment for us all!

The health benefits for both the male and females are numerous. As far as disease is concerned, it certainly reduces the risks of mammary tumors and ovarian cancer in females and f you neuter a female dog prior to puberty, she has an almost zero risk of developing breast cancer.

Male dogs, too, may benefit, with the risk of testicular cancer eliminated – and rates of prostatic cancer reduced. From a behavioral standpoint, sterilization is widely believed to reduce aggression toward other dogs, territorialism, and roaming, which can in turn protect dogs from the risk of injury associated with those behaviors, such as fights and getting hit by cars. Neutered males, particularly males who were neutered before puberty, are less likely to exhibit inappropriate urine-marking as well.

So why don’t people sterilise their pets?

Some say it’s the cost but here are some of the  myths about sterilisation:

  • All female dogs should be allowed to have one litter before sterilization.There are absolutely no health benefits by allowing this at all.  False, the only thing allowing a bitch to have one session may accomplish, is the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy!
  • It will change their personality. Dog owners tend to anthropomorphic their pets and feel that a neutered dog will somehow be less “manly” and a spayed bitch will only be interested in eating all day. This is not true. Castration does not affect a dog’s nature or playful instincts.
  • Sterilization will make my dog fat. False. Sterilization will not make your dog fat – too much food and not enough exercise will make your dog fat!
  • My dog will get lazy. False, whether a dog is lazy or not depends entirely on its temperament and personality.
  • Undergoing sterilization is dangerous. As with all procedures that require an aesthetic, there is always a degree of risk, but if the procedure is undertaken by a licensed vet, the routine sterilization procedure is actually less dangerous and stressful than the complications that could happen in pregnancy.
  • My dog is a male! – This comment normally comes from men! In addition to the benefits listed below, dogs conceive purely on biological instinct and don’t feel deprived by sterilization, but a dog that is not sterilized will suffer from extreme frustration if it scents a female in season and cant get to her. The result of this could easily lead to behavior problems and even reactive behaviour – you are stopping the dog from following its natural instinct – to propagate the breed.

So no more excuses, no more letting someone else take responsibility, all the refuges are full and we cannot cope, so please, please sterilise you dogs!

Todays Three New Arrivals!









A Fresh Start..

When you take home one of our SPA dogs many people are unsure what to expect or in fact where to begin and our advice would always be to regard him very much as you would a puppy – an animal that will require lots of supervision and training as well as love and attention.

Many of our SPA dogs have not had the best start in life and may not have had as much as basic training, some may have pre-existing behaviour issues so its best to be prepared and to be realistic. Of course lots of our dogs are no problem at all but this is something that you should never take for granted and please bear in mind that a lot of rescue dogs have problems because they are unwanted but many are unwanted because they have problems.  If you are realistic in what to expect you are immediately placing less pressure on both yourself and the dog and please remember we can advise you or any problems that pop up.

What most rescue dogs crave is some sort or order and security restored to their lives where previously there was none. They will of course thrive on love and attention but they will also need set routines, rules and guidance. Lots of new owners make the mistake of ‘over-loving’ the dog and are excessively lenient or indulgent with them but if you start as you mean to go on and you have a much greater chance of success.

As with a puppy you should confine the dog to a specific area where the floor is easiest to clean and then should he have any toileting problems they can be quickly cleaned up.  Exercise is generally a good stress buster as long as it is tailored to their age and fitness and most dogs will settle happily after a nice walk.  Its natural that all your family and friends will want to meet the new arrival but we do advise keeping interactions very low key until your dog settles down, remember the dog doesn’t really know who you are and excessive attention and fuss will certainly fuel problems such as excitability and separation anxiety.

Last night one of our elderly dogs left the refuge for his fresh start. Lovely Rudolf, now Andy was driven by one of our volunteers to meet a family who had agreed to adopt Andy even although he was 13 years old!  So Andy had a 5 hour journey but he’s home at last and we have already heard that he is settling down fine and enjoying home comforts – have a long and happy retirement Andy!

Happy Retirement Andy!


Tabou Toddles Off..

When Tabou (now Bertie ) arrived at the refuge we were all very surprised that he wasn’t identified. A very handsome English Springer Spaniel who was in good condition isn’t something we see often at the refuge! This boy had most certainly been a family pet, knew all his basic commands and didn’t pull on the lead. What’s more he was one of the calmest Springers I have ever met and just lay at my feet or toddled along bedside me.

A couple from the Limousin area spotted his photo online and having lost their own spaniel a few weeks ago felt that they would like to give Bertie a home. They made a very brave decision and reserved him without meeting him and traveled down to Carcassonne on Wednesday to meet him. This is a very brave thing to do as they were really reliant on our accuracy in describing Bertie and his temperament, but even so I breathed a sigh of relief when introductions went well and arrangements were made to pick him up this morning.

They have said that he will off groomer’s next week for a tidy up and then off to the vet to be castrated and also vaccinated against rabies for a pet passport. The DEFRA rule change regarding the rabies wait time from six months to three weeks has really helped the SPA and now more and more British families are adopting from us. The worming window has also changed from 24-48 hours to 24-60 hours and when transporting dogs from Carcassonne that is a big advantage!

So by now Bertie will be home, settling in with a loving family with a large enclosed garden and lots of time to give him the love and attention he deserves. If only all of our dogs could be so lucky!

Charlot also left having only been reserved after only 10 days at the refuge!  At just less than a year old this Berger Allemande cross was a handsome looking boy and with just as lovely a nature so its no great surprise that he was snapped up quickly.  This is of course great news for Charlot but I cant help feeling sorry for the dogs who have been with us a long long time!

 Tabou has left for the Limousin.



Charlot left too!