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Life After The Refuge

Life after the Refuge – Paddy (ex Panda)

Here is a lovely story for Life after the Refuge telling the story of Paddy. He is one of Griff’s brothers, and so perhaps this will give people some idea of what to expect if they were to offer Griff a home. Much of Griff’s evolution has taken place at the ScPA, but Hamish and Tom had it all to deal with at home in the case of Paddy. They have done wonders, as you can see.

This is what they say:

We had been keeping an eye on the Dog Rescue Carcassonne website for a couple of years and had seen many dogs that pulled at our heart strings but the timing never seemed to be right. We were either moving house to France or living back home in Edinburgh during the winter months.  A few weeks before we returned to France in 2018 we had been in touch with Darcey by e-mail about 2 dogs who took our interested. The first was a rotweiller and the second a mixed breed dog called Panda.  So it was with much excitement that we finally made our way on the 15th March 2018 to Carcassonne to visit these dogs.

Panda (as he then was) at the SCPA

Panda was the first dog we met. He was one of three dogs brought to the SPA at the age of two having spent their lives hitherto in a garage as their owner did not want them when they were born. So with this in mind it was no surprise when Panda greeted us by cowering on the ground, rolling over and peeing. He had endeared himself to us at once.

We took Panda for a walk along with his kennel carer Ingrid, who luckily spoke enough English to tell us a bit more about him.  By the time we got back to the kennels there was no doubt that he was the dog for us and within 20 minutes the adoption paperwork was completed, good news photographs taken for the website, goodbyes said and Panda was in our car heading for a new life in our home near Uzes over 2 hours away. Soon after we got home Panda became Paddy. Not because we did not like his name, indeed given his facial markings it was perfect, but we just could not remember it when we needed to get his attention.

For the first 4 months we wondered what we had let ourselves into as it was clear that we were sharing our home with a very cautious Paddy rather than having a new member of the family. During this time we were treated to the full range of Paddy’s quirks most of which were accompanied by stress peeing and cowering. He would not eat if we were in the room, would only let us put his lead on if we were sitting down, visitors frightened him, we were not allowed to touch him unless we were sitting down, if out for a walk he would weave back and fore behind us rather that in front or beside and if we encountered even a small group of people he would tremble and stress pee or even poo, he would not let us near him when he was in the garden preferring to hide in the bushes, once out of the house it could take hours to coax him back in, he did not know how to play, was not motivated by food, had zero recall when off the lead. The list could go on but throughout all of this there was still that spark in him that we saw initially and a look on his face which said he wanted to interact but did not know how.

The newly renamed Paddy on the day of his adoption

We had a friend’s dog called George stay with us for a couple weeks. George had none of Paddy’s problems. Paddy learnt a lot from watching the carefree George running around and tucking into his grub regardless and after a few days Paddy was happy to run in and out of the house and became much more confident.

We set a fairly strict routine for him to get accustomed to things. As time went on we introduced new experiences. Some he coped with some he didn’t.  When we found something that worked we would repeat it time after time to build his trust and confidence that nice things happen and gradually his trust in us increased and the stress peeing decreased. He adores being in the car and this became a safety zone for him. If he became too stressed in the garden he would jump into the car to calm down with a short drive round the village. Most of the time we left him to his own devices to just get used to his new life. As time went on in the evenings we would roll him onto his back and wedge him between us to pet him. This scared him to start with but after a few times he would come to us and roll over hoping to be pulled around and tickled.

At first, when people came to the house he would cower in a corner of the garden. The people who came most often such as our builders tended to have dogs so knew how to deal with Paddy and by the time we left for Scotland Paddy would happily go by himself to see what they were doing and monitor their work.

Paddy at Christmas

When we returned to Edinburgh we were expecting Paddy to be frightened by the sights and sounds of a city. Yes there were things that did, and to some extent still do, scare him such as joggers, children on bikes or scooters, high visibility jackets, prams and pushchairs, or people walking behind him especially men. He has however embraced living in the city. Traffic does not frighten him in the least (which is a mixed blessing) and he adores going on buses and will try to get on one at every opportunity. From the start he happily socialised in busy bars and restaurants and wander round looking at and sniffing people. His favourite places to walk are the beach and the park which is great as we live next to Holyrood Park where Paddy has 260 hectares to play in every day.

So almost a year on what do we have? Paddy is totally unrecognisable from the timid dog we took home. His confidence has grown immeasurably and he has not stress peed or pooed for months. What is more exciting for us is that his recall is now very good which has given him the chance to run off lead amongst the bushes and undergrowth on his daily walks or on the beach while we relax knowing he will come back when we call or whistle (well at least 90% of the time!). This also applies in pubs and bars when he feels it is his turn to take a shot behind the bar or in the kitchen. His pulling on the lead has lessened over time especially when we put him into a harness after he slipped his collar in the centre of Edinburgh.  He is learning to play although doggy toys are still a mystery to him. He is getting better at letting visitors to his home get close and even pet him. He loves being petted by us and will constantly be lying at our feet, rolling over wanting to be stroked and given the chance will make it last for ages.  He has learnt several commands which we can build on as he has now decided to be treat orientated. He wanders round with his tail wagging high in the air and happily makes eye contact. If there is the slightest hint of him going for a walk he is jumping around wagging his tail and desperately trying to get his head into his harness. However his biggest thrill is still going out in the car. One shake of the car keys and he is running round in circles waiting to be let out of the house and when let loose, runs as fast as he can to get to the car.

dog relaxing on owner's lap

A much more relaxing looking Paddy

If Paddy could talk he would probably say his perfect day would be a long drive in the car to the beach in the morning followed by a bus ride to a pub in the afternoon. And to round off the day his evening meal followed by excessive amounts of cuddles and tummy rubbing.

one of paddy's brothers

Griff is Paddy’s brother, he is still looking for a home

 

Life After the Refuge – HELDA

Many of you will have seen the newly revamped DRC Twitter feed and all new Instagram feed. Well, both are thanks to Vasuki, who has recently moved to the area from Canada and volunteered her services. She started following DRC when she was still on the other side of the Pond, and her decision to adopt Helda was made well before Vasuki and her husband even met her.

In case you are unaware of Helda’s story, she was bought as a puppy and presumably came from a puppy mill. She has several health issues, including very poor vision. Her original owners kept her tied up at the bottom of their garden, and it was only by luck that she made it to the ScPA Carcassonne in November 2017. She was 5 years old at the time and had never known freedom.

Helda and her new “brother” Atlas

 

Here is what Vasuki wrote this morning, but I am sure we will have regular updates!

It’s now a week since we brought Helda home. So let me recap my experience.

Knowing Helda has never lived inside, which has caused her hip and joint issues and a vision problem, I expected much more difficulty. Sure there were a couple of accidents, but she figured it all out quicker.

She hasn’t destroyed any furniture or cushions. I did catch her attempting to bite a cushion, one warning and she stopped. Instead we got creative, took old tshirts and knotted them up to get her to play and rip.

She got over her instinct to be outside as normal pretty quick. The first 36 hours, she needed to be invited in, and waited at the door every time (heartbreaking). Now she wanders in and out, and has got it.

Going up the stairs was challenging and probably worrisome to her. Denis figured out how to her upstairs (just be at her side and nudge her a bit). She was more worried about going down. Understandable due to her hip issue. Her foot sometimes slides on the tiles, but she’s got it. She now needs to learn she can go upstairs without being invited.

We started her on Omega 3 pills for her hips and a homeopathic pills for inflammation. Vet was happy with that, and noticed improvement in her range of motion. Daily walks, and plenty of play outside seems to help. Next a specialist visit to have her eye looked at as vet doesn’t believe it is cataract. We have meds that help her till then. Cost: vet (€98 including eye meds), Omega 3 and homeopathic pills €40.

Was it worth it? Absolutely, positively yes. The look her on face at Gruissan beach, the pure joy everytime she’s around us, the kisses, the affection. Priceless.

German Shepherd lying down

Helda inside!

The story of Dylan McMullen…

Dylan came to us last year in the autumn.

We picked him out just by looking at the pictures on internet and then we just know that’s him.

So one day we went there asked for a walk with him together with Moira, he was pulling a lot on the lead but very happy to come out for a walk made no physical contact.

I watch him play with another dog in a fenced in area it was a full on play between two equally sized dogs, and I manage to exchange some words with the trainer in French.

I soon understood that Dylan was one of his favourite dogs.

My husband and I stood and looked at Dylan playing and agreed that this felt right so we signed for Dylan but we said we needed a week before we got him to fix things at home.

I also took the trainers phone number.

The day we picked Dylan up we had no long line for him so Vincent (trainer) gave us an old one so Moira took a photo of us and then we went to the lake in Carcassonne me and my husband and a friend of ours.

We took a long walk Dylan loved to play in the water but not swim. I sat in the back seat with Dylan strapped in the whole way he lay in my lap. We got back home and he looked at everything in the house.

Every walk we did he pulled a lot and was very nervous and had diarrhea.

He also reacted when the fly squatter came forward as if I was going to hit him the same reaction with the broom.

So then I texted Vincent and ask if he could help us with Dylan.

Vincent came around 10 times once a week, Dylan was so happy to see him and he trusted him.

We worked on different things together. To make him not to pull, stay, sit, lay down, and not eat food in the park. We manage everything exept for the food in the park.

I always talk to my dogs I believe they understand a lot of people laugh when I tell them but then I was at a conference in Sweden and listened to a professor who proved that a dog has an intelligence of a 5 year old and can understand 1500 words. I use a combination of words and signs when I communicate with him cause some days if it’s a lot of stress that day I just use signs so he does not hear the stress in my voice.

After about 6 months Dyland behaviour changed, he was calmer but then he begun to guard me and at the same time show that he did not trust other people so I had to do a lot of training in those areas we decided to go to Jorg Limacher so we went once a week and Dylan made a lot of progress.

We don’t know Dylans age or breed but we guess he is around 3 years old and are a cross of groendal, labradour and something else. He is black 30 kg.

He is a very clever dog, loves to be near the family but he does not like cats.

People who are friendly and doesn’t touch him no problem. If we introduce him to other people in our home he wants to get a cuddle but not before.

Other dogs no problem so far.

We also took the decision to bring a puppy in the family so we got a mini schnauzer a male, what a great decision Dylan loves Prince and they have so much fun together its like Dylan grew up and got a better self confidence with a puppy in the house.

Before we had dogs in the family then we had a Maremmano abruzzese , and a Tervuren, schnauzer.

The other day I came back from a walk with Dylan and my door is in an alley and two drug addicts came towards me and I could feel it’s a problem here. So I said to Dylan stay and stood still and these men came up and starting to complain about me standing between them and the dog and they just  asked  for trouble.

So I just waited until they stopped talking all this in French which I am not fluent in.

After a couple of minutes they started walking away and me and Dylan was just 3 meters from our door so I moved towards the door to go in then the one of the guys change their mind and turned around and was moving very quickly and in a threatening way towards me but he got stopped in the air by Dylan who just screamed and jumped up in the air with open jaw and slammed them in front of this guys nose.!

Barnie…

It’s been 2½ months since Barney joined out family – here’s his story and a recent photo!
As soon as we saw Barney’s face on the Dog Rescue, Carcassonne website page, we knew he was the one for us!  We were told that he had been with a homeless person prior to the DRC, and that he was a very active dog who was in need of someone to bond with.  He certainly is active!  He loves playing games – sometimes it’s “throw and catch the ball”, sometimes it’s “try to get me to put the ball down so you can throw it again” !  He recently completed the CSF charity 5k walk (with me in tow of course!) – I thought he would sleep for the rest of the day, but by 6 o’clock, he was raring to go again!  “Come on Mum, where’s the ball? Lets go out and play!”
 
He’s bonded with both me and my husband.  We are able to give him lots of attention but, as long as we’re around, he’s quite happy to snooze the day away with one of his favourite cuddly toys (until play-time of course).
We’re so glad to have him in our family.  He’s even been trying to win the cat over – but his playful pouncing at her puts her off a bit, as you can imagine!  However, I know that before too long they’ll be curling up together.  It’s only been 2 and a bit months after all.
Thanks to DRC for keeping him until we found him!

Barnie…an active boy!

Duffy

I never thought I’d be writing another ‘life after the refuge’ post, about a different dog, but you never know what’s round the corner, so here I am.

 

We lost our lovely SPA adoptee, Mattie, in March ’17.   Mattie loved to chase cars, and one fateful day she chased one for too long, and lost. Our other dog, Skype, was with her when it happened.  Afterwards he became very calm and just like us, he grieved. It was obvious that he missed his canine companion, so we started talking about heading off to Carcassonne to find him a new friend.

 

Scanning the SPA Carcassonne site, we saw a puppy that looked quite cute, but when we got there, the puppy had been adopted 35 mins before.  It just wasn’t meant to be.

 

Then Darcy bounded up to Annette (a known fan of long eared hounds), and pretty much said “Have I got the dog for you!!!”. The dog in question still had her stitches in from sterilisation, and the wound was a bit of a mess, but “Paige” was bouncing around a park like she was made of springs. Our first impression was that she was a gorgeous, so we took a walk. Paige was interested in everything except us, so we went home in a bit of an unsure frame of mind. It took 10 days to decide that we wouldn’t want her to go to someone else, and home she came.

 

Noises

The first thing we found out about the newly renamed “Duffy”, is that she is scared of everything. Not as badly as some dogs, but gunshots two villages away would make her cower, tremble, or even try to escape out of a window; blades of grass in the wind blowing the wrong way would make her jump, and any noise from the TV would necessitate leaving the room in haste. Conversely, she moves around in almost complete silence. We have both tripped over her a number of times, purely through not hearing her walk up and sit behind us. She also has in inbuilt ‘off’ switch, and sleeps as soundly as anything if she feels safe – off in to the Land of Duff.

 

Names

The name Duffy suits her very well, but has so many diminutives, rhymes, and other plays on words that it’s a wonder she responds to shouts of “Duffy!” at all. A non-exhaustive list: Duffy, Duffs, Duff the Fluff, Fluffy, Doofus, Doofus Faloufus, Doofaloo, Ninja, Ninj, Evil one, Duffaflump, Flump, Duffalo, Fluffalo and Thing, to mention the main ones….

 

Training

Duffy clearly had none at all.  She has quickly learned to sit for food and a few other rules are slowly starting to sink in.  She can be quite headstrong, but sometimes she just sits and stares at us (or the fire) with a far-away expression, so ‘slowly’ is definitely the word …

 

Crate training

The first night in her crate, Duffy was as good as gold. The next nights, she was panicked and yelled the place down. She’s bent the door of her crate and even managed to bend Skype’s Rosewood crate (apparently one of the strongest on the market). We tried leaving the crate open and the office door shut, but she tried to batter down the door.   She hates to be trapped and we were losing a lot of sleep so we came to an unspoken compromise. Duffy now goes to bed quite happily, but we barely engage the bolt, so she can break out easily and fairly quietly. We sometimes come downstairs in the morning to an open crate but Duffy still in it, fast asleep. The scariest moment (for her as well I suspect) was when she got out of her crate and tried to come upstairs by jumping over the stair gate. She got stuck between the slats with paws hanging in the air, suspended by her tummy. Lots of screaming and a quick rescue, but she’s never tried it again. She can still get through it if panicked (like in a thunderstorm) but we have no idea how!

 

Walking

Over the Summer we walked both dogs together, but as soon as the hunting season started, Duffy started refusing to go out in the morning; she would hide and tremble, even in the car. Evening walks were better, but there were still traumas. We made the decision early on to not let her off the lead, as a single gunshot or car backfire could have her taking flight and hiding in a different Department in a few minutes.  I am fortunate in that I have clients with big enclosed gardens that are happy to let the dogs have a run off the lead, so we do let her off and see her in full flight occasionally.

 

Dog jealousy

Skype’s initial reaction to welcoming a new dog into his home was not as calm we expected.  Thankfully, within 48 hours that changed and they have been friends and playmates ever since.  Duffy is so affectionate and such a cutie that she gets away with an awful lot of things she shouldn’t!   Simply with a flick of the ears and a wink of an eye people instantly love her. However, the 2 dogs are now happy to use each other as pillows, and even sleep sharing a crate (usually his).  She’s incredibly playful and we think she has a lot of puppyhood to catch up on – and usually Skype obliges to be the punchbag.

 

The right decision

Welcoming Duffy into the family has been great for us and for Skype (and hopefully another doggy has benefitted from the space left in the SPA).  Duffy, 16 months later (her Gotcha day was the 24th april), isn’t scared of TV noise unless it’s a really noisy war film, she’s as affectionate and cuddly as you could wish for, and we count ourselves very lucky that there has been no sign whatsoever so far in either dog of aggression to other dogs or humans. She’s also gained quite a few kilos so her ribs are no longer sticking out like sticks.  She does jump up for cuddles with strangers, and can be quite insistent, but once the ears have been scratched, she’ll settle on a dog bed (or usually a sofa), and go off to sleep and snore in the special Land of Duff.

Duffy and Skype are great friends!

 

Life after the Refuge – Frisbee

Many thanks to Jemma for this article where she writes about her family’s reasons for wishing to adopt from the ScPA and the whole adoption experience.

If you would like to write an article about your ex- ScPA dog, please get in touch!

We’re a young(ish!) family with two children, Patrick and Aimée.  We had Molly, a slightly overweight, always hungry, water loving Labrador for 12 years. We added Rosie to our family, a kind but a little grumpy Labrador a few years later.

Rosie

The truth of the situation is we bought these two wonderful dogs as we were worried, with young children, that an adopted dog may be aggressive or unpredictable.  Finally, we saw Cookie (previously sage), a Labrador cross puppy on the SPA Facebook page and we couldn’t resist adding yet again. She looked so sad on her photo that I knew I would do anything to see her happy.  She is the happiest, craziest dog you will ever meet, so we quickly wondered why we waited so long to adopt.  We made a pact that in the future we would always adopt. We were a happy three dog family for a few years.

Cookie – adopted as a puppy from the ScPA

In March this year, we had to say a tearful goodbye to Molly as age caught up to her and she was in pain.  Of course, we knew how hard it would be to say goodbye, but we grossly underestimated the pain and loss we would feel.  Our children were inconsolable and whilst we tried to be strong for them, in the evenings while they slept, we too cried tears of sadness.

yellow lab

Molly

We imagined that we’d wait a few years before adopting another furry friend, in fact I remember saying that I couldn’t go through that pain again so I was unsure I could ever have another dog.  However, as it happened, over a few weeks, we noticed that Rosie and Cookie were also suffering, they were so used to being three that they seemed lost and lonely.  We quickly realised it was the same for us.  We spoke for a long time and decided that the time had come to adopt another puppy.  We were happy to wait as long as needed.  In fact, we didn’t need to.  As soon as I messaged the ever helpful Darcey, and mentioned Gary also loves Alsatians, and that we were more than happy to have a cross again, she sent a photo of Frisbee.  She was 6 months old and it was love at first sight.

Frisbee, adopted from the ScPA

We were in Holland on holiday but we had to meet her asap, so after a ridiculously long drive, we turned up at the SPA with the kids.  We were a bit naughty , we told them Darcey needed our help walking a few dogs (as we’d done this before) so she gave us Frisbee and sent us off into the fields.  Patrick and Aimée were taken with her straight away.  Frisbee was kind and gentle, but very shy and looked like she needed a good dinner!  She was nervous, but walked beautifully with us.  She seemed particularly nervous of Gary and if we moved our hands too fast, she backed away and went low.  She didn’t show any signs of aggression so at only 6 months, we decided that we could show her she could trust humans.  The kids were ecstatic when we said we’d adopt her.

Aimée and Patrick with their beloved Frisbee 

After Frisbee was sterilised, she came home with us to recover and from the start, created a firm bond with Cookie, running around our garden, wagging and play fighting.  The relationship with Rosie took longer as she’s so damn grumpy!  But I’m pleased to say they’re now good friends.

After a couple of weeks with hugs and fusses, Frisbee grew in confidence.  She looks at us adoringly and quickly grew to love us all (although she’s a Daddy’s girl!)

I teach children aged 5-16 on Wednesdays and adults all week.  I really wanted to socialise Frisbee more and as her trust in us grew, so did my trust in her.  I let her meet all my adult students and she rose to the challenge, sitting in front of every new person allowing them to fuss her freely – whilst trying to sneak in the occasional lick!  I then moved on to introducing to her to my younger students in groups of 8.  Some of them are scared of dogs, especially bigger ones.  For these kids, I assured them if they stood over the other side of the classroom, I wouldn’t allow her near them but those who wanted to fuss her could do this one at a time, sat down.  Frisbee was simply amazing, she sat in front of each child individually, nuzzling their hands gently and calmly.  It’s like she could sense some of them were nervous so she was as calm as possible.  It was a beautiful sight to behold and pretty unbelievable for a 7 month old puppy!  Now I only have one child who remains terrified of dogs, the rest have fallen in love with Frisbee and happily fuss her every week.

Happy dogs mean a happy family!

The whole experience of adopting has been wonderful for us, and although we still miss Molly incredibly, Frisbee has helped to heal our broken hearts.  Dogs are with us for a short time, but the memories they bring us make the pain worthwhile.  We’ll continue to adopt as we lose our furry babies, and in the meantime, try to help the SPA when and where we can in their mission. Their advice and help has been invaluable to our family and we’d encourage anyone to contact them to find their perfect animal member of the family.

 

 

Arthur..

The joy of our life, Arthur was adopted by us in October 2016 from the SPA in Carcassonne. We wanted a dog since moving to France and we trawled the internet looking at various dog sites to find the perfect match. We went through the idea of buying a puppy and decided we wanted an older dog and therefore, why not a rescue dog? It just made a lot of sense to have a rescue dog. My husband who should have been a vet, couldn’t stand the thought of all those rescues out there without homes. The sadder the situation the more his heart opened. We nearly settled on a poor 9 year old dog who had had a rotten life, but she was taken before we got our act together.

 

This time wasn’t wasted, as we were able to be acquainted with the various problems that rescues can come with, and also we started to mentally collect our shortlist together. Meanwhile we were chatting to Moira at the SPA at Carcassonne but we couldn’t settle on the ideal dog. I remember this time of going on to their website and learning off by heart the details of each dog as we were on there every day. We also sorted out what was important to us, we are able to take our dog for walks everyday, had a large garden, but didn’t want to be out there for hours. Finally, we took the plunge and drove down to Carcassonne to see the dogs upfront. We kade a pact that if there wasn’t a dog that appealed we would drve back empty handed rather than taking a second best.

 

We live in Brittany and the SPA was a good 8 hour drive away. We bought doggie things some sensible, others less so! Then we were off to see the SPA. I was first taken aback by all the barking when we arrived at their compound. Barking to me is a no-no with my dogs so a bit hard to adjust. I have since learned that compound dogs do this to attract your attention, so be warned! We met Moira and she suggested that we walked round all the cages before making up our minds. By the time we finished our rounds my husband was convinced to take them all back with us! We were toying with the idea of two dogs, and fortunately Moira talked us out of it, and she was right, the settling in period is very important for a successful adoption.

 

A scruffy looking dog in a cage on his own took my eye, and while Moira and my husband were discussing doggie things, I walked over to see this large ball of scruffiness. He didn’t bark like the others as he was a new dog, just in last week. We fell in love with him straight away and knew that he was the dog for us. Moira suggested a walk with him, and joy oh joy he never pulled on the lead, not once!

 

He came home on the freedom van, they delivered right to our doorstep. And at 7 years of age, Arthur started his new life with us. It took him about 3 months to settle in. He never barked, and never pulled on his lead. We learnt that he had an amazing habit of doing his toilet on top of things, like a rock or shrub or even tall grass. Once in a motorway services area he managed to put an artistic gathering of poo on top of one of the large kerbside stones! I scooped it up immediately, hoping to goodness, that no one saw us. But he could have got 9 out of 10 for artistic merit!!!

 

Arthur slept in his own bed in our bedroom and there was never a toilet mishap. As he grew more confident he started to pull on his lead, so much so that I couldn’t manage him. I was conned by an expert! We devised a Halti with harness system and he is unable to pull, only to stop and try to pull off the Halti. He still hasn’t accepted it, but puts up with it on our daily walks through the countryside.

 

Everywhere we go everyone wants to stop and pat him. Particularly in England. His breed is the oldest in France, especially bred for hunting, a Griffon Nivernais. Unfortunately, their hunting trait is so good that even now if Arthur picks up a scent he wants to be off. This is a downfall for recall though! Sadly, we cannot let him off the lead outside of our garden. He does eventually come back but it may be hours.

 

One unusual habit that he formed in the back of our estate car is to lick the side windows, going from side to side to lick them with a high pitch squealing sound! We haven’t resolved that one yet but giving him less room slows him down a bit. When we got our other rescue dog, he learnt that he can bark at other dogs! So he can be a quick learner if he wants to. We drive up to the UK frequently and he is a good sailor as well as learning that motorway driving is sleeping time.

 

One cat of ours likes to snuggle up to him in the evenings when we are settled on the sofa, Arthur doesn’t mind at all, but when the purring drives him mad, he leaps off and makes himself comfortable somewhere else. The same cat though plays ‘Chasey’ through the house with him, they take turns chasing each other. It is hilarious to watch a 25 kg dog being chased by a 5 kg cat!

 

Our lives have changed since we got Arthur, we have a furry animal that loves to be with us and curl up beside us when he wants some company. He is our watchdog when it comes to strangers, dogs and the occasional attack by a local cat he warns us with his loud, deep bark. He is great with children, friendly with other dogs and our family and friends. What more could a dog owner want?

 

The choice of having a second dog was confirmed quickly as he made friends and became best buddy with our other rescue dog straight away. There are times unfortunately that we can’t take him on our travels, so having a ‘sister’ is good company when they are put into boarding kennels. As you can see, she has taught him some naughty tricks but that is to be expected. We went back to the SPA Carcassonne to find our second dog, but there were none suitable at that point. However, Moira came up trumps hearing of a dog on her doggy grapevine. All has worked out well since. And when the sad time comes when he passes on to doggy heaven, we will be in contact with the SPA Carcassonne again to have another rescue dog.

Arthur…a happy boy!

 

Life of Brian

Today the refuge is shut, so we are happy to share yet another tale from our section devoted to Life after the Refuge. Tonight’s guest blogger is Kim, who, with husband Arthur, adopted Gino a week or so ago. All is going well, as you can see below.

Brian (fomerly Gino)

Well, where do I begin. My name is Brian. I was adopted from the SPA in Carcassonne on Friday 9th February 2018, so only a week or so ago and I already have my paws well and truly settled under the table.

My original name was Gino, but my new feeding lady had to change it because every time she called me she would start singing the Geno song from the 1980s, it was driving her madder than she already is, though that isn’t difficult, it doesn’t take much for her to be a bit batty.

I have a new sister called Roxy, she’s lovely most of the time, we have had a few spats but it soon calmed down, especially when the feeding lady said she wouldn’t give us a treat, blimey, that was a shock to hear, no treats! but I love my bits of apple and stuff she sneaks to me.

Ain’t I cute? And look at my sexy bum!

She whispers in my ears that I am a lovely boy and she will love me forever, not just me Roxy as well, she thinks we’re the bees knees (I didn’t know bees had knees)

I get fed twice a day, which is brilliant, feeding lady mixes grated carrot and chopped apple in with my biscuits, AND, I get sardines or yogurt in it as well, Roxy only gets fed once a day but that’s because she’s smaller than I am and fatter but don’t tell her that. Oh oh oh, we get to go for 2 or 3 walks every day, unless it’s raining, then the mad lady only get to take us once if she’s really lucky, I don’t like the rain much and my new bezza mate hates it, so we get to stay warm and very farty in the house, it’s brilliant.

Here I am, all warm and farty

The weather up here is wayyyy colder than it is in Carcassonne, I get to wear a new coat every day but sometimes the sun shines and it’s lovely and warm so I go on more walks in the forest and by a canal somewhere oooh I nearly forgot, Roxy likes rolling in poo nearly as much as me, the thing I don’t understand is why the feeding lady goes a bit weirdly batty, all I can hear is ‘NONONONONONONO’ this is when I decide I can only understand French, it’s great being a bilingual dog, I can get away with selective hearing.

In the snow with my friend Roxy. She’s okay….

There’s only a few things I don’t like very much, mad feeding lady cleans my ears out twice every day and puts squidgy stuff in them, not only that she cleans one of my eyes and puts stuff in that as well, she tells me it’s going to stop my ears itching and my eye will feel better, oh the price we dogs have to pay just to keep you humans happy!

So, a week of living with feeding lady, Roxy and beardy bloke, I think I’ll stay, I’ll let you all know how things go but I reckon I’m gonna be happy here. Sorry, I have to go, I was sure I heard something that sounds like food, I need to rest my head on anyone’s knee to help them feel sorry for me, maybe if I breathe in I’ll look like a little waif! that might work, Bye for now.

Life is GOOD!

Lots of love Brian

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.

Shadow

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 !!!!

Dreyfus

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 !!!

Hector

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!

 

Faro..

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!