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One adoption, four dogs reclaimed.

There we all were wondering why little Berry / Fifine was still at the refuge, little knowing that in fact a family had been to see her on Sunday and just needed Dad’s approval before adopting her. He came along today and after a quick test in the cat house (which Berry passed with flying colours), off she went. Thanks Dad!

She was not the only dog to leave today. The lovely border collie who was found at the gates on Sunday afternoon was reclaimed. Her name was Guana, which may seem a bit odd to those of you who know anything about bats, but maybe it sounds better in French. In any case, she was delighted to see her mum and we are all very happy for her. Borders tend not to do well  in refuges, as many of you know.

The SPA was also able to serve as meeting point for a non-refuge dog, namely Maiko, a lovely black male who was signaled as missing by his distraught owners on the site chien-perdu.org. Of course as usual his photo was spread far and wide via Facebook etc. A couple found the dog, contacted the owners, and all of them met up at the SPA. The owner is now going to get his dog castrated as he knows for sure that he ran off in pursuit of a female. No one has told Maiko the news yet, clearly, as he is looking very happy on the photo!

I mentioned yesterday that Baker had been reclaimed. Well I now know who he is. He was brought in on Sunday, and with Sunday’s other two arrivals also being reclaimed today, that makes the whole weekend far more positive. And certainly makes this Tuesday better than the one we had last week!

Finally a lovely picture of Renee, who left for Scotland last week.  Her new family had a couple of social commitments which they felt may have prevented them from starting off as being the devoted dog owners they clearly are. And as Elinor and her family were not exactly in a hurry to say goodbye, they all agreed to leave Renee where she was for another week. Apparently it was all very emotional (no surprises there), but here is Renee with her new family and their dogs, as well as with her foster dad and two canine pals. Thanks again Elinor and Dave. Job well done!

Fifine (Berry) – ADOPTED
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Maiko  – still with his family jewels, but not for long!

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And Renee with friends old and new. Apparently she is now on “her” new sofa



Leika back, but two adoptions!

Okay, make that nine adoptions during the weekend. Leika was returned today. Before she was adopted we advised the woman to bring her own dog to the refuge to make sure the two dogs got on. We were told that it was not necessary, as her dog was a bit dominant but was fine with other dogs. Guess what? We know people often have good intentions, but when we give advice, it is not just for the fun of it.

So Leika, ten years old and missing an eye, is back at the SPA. Luckily we had not deleted her photos; sometimes you just know, although you hope to be proved wrong.

Or maybe we can say that there were ten adoptions after all, because had he already been micro-chipped, Guizmo would certainly have left yesterday. As it was he had to wait for a quick trip to the vet today before leaving. His adopters saw him in his kennel and were doubtless attracted to (or perhaps astounded by) the size of his ears, which we have tried many a time to capture in photographs. Now Guizmo has a new home, and this picture received on Facebook this afternoon shows his ears in all their glory! What a fabulous looking dog!

The weekend’s open days were covered by two local newspapers, and we hope that the open day effect will continue for a little while longer. Animals being adopted, that is, not people assuming that we have space to take their unwanted pets. When the two dogs arrived late yesterday they took up the last two empty boxes, so no doubt the employees will have been busy “mixing” dogs today, to see who can live with whom and thus make some much needed space.

Lovely little boy Tan/ Cheyenne was adopted, which was no surprise, as he was young and small and really sweet. In fact I am surprised that his female counterpart, Berry has not been snapped up. She is just adorable and is sterilised and all ready to leave. Oh, and a dog called Baker found his owner. Not quite sure who he is right now, perhaps we gave him another name!

One dog arrived, which wasn’t bad for a Monday. But I hope tomorrow is not a repeat of last Tuesday, which was a catastrophe.

Leika – returned after two days










Guizmo – ADOPTED (photo courtesy of his new dad)










Tan (Cheyenne) – ADOPTED

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Little Berry – Still waiting




Open Weekend Day Two!

Day two of the open weekend was even busier than day one, with even more visitors, even more walkers and delicious sustenance from our friends at Dog Park 11 who came along to give us a helping hand.

The day started badly, with the arrival of a young female border collie. She may well have an owner, but for now she is alone and trembling with fear in her box. As you can see from the photo, though, she is very affectionate, and she will be just fine, whether she goes back to her old home or finds a new one.

Then things picked up! First to leave was puppy Maki, one of last two of the Japanese litter. This sadly left Sashimi all alone, but more of that later.

Dog Park were busy putting dogs into the parks (well, it is logical!) playing with them and checking out their levels of education, with lots of sitting, staying and fetching going on (by the dogs, that is). Meanwhile just about all the dogs who did not get out yesterday had their turn for a walk today

A lovely family came looking for a puppy, but after discussion with volunteer Joelle, realised that perhaps they would prefer an adult, especially one whom we knew to be house trained, good with children and cats. Ha, easy, said Joelle, and shortly afterwards she was saying a happy but tearful goodbye to Springbok, who has had a pretty horrible life up to now.

I mentioned that one puppy was left after the adoption of Maki. Dany from Dog Park decided to see if anyone would fall for this boy out of his kennel, and pretty soon thereafter he left with a fabulous family. Great work Dany! I was delighted, as I hate to see a lone pup when all his brothers and sisters have left.

Then just before the official closing time, we had another fabulous adoption, that of Chinah, a brindle “not quite pup” who is extremely dominant. The family who have adopted her have a female dog already, and the two dogs were busy deciding who is boss, but in a very nice way. Chinah will need a lot of exercise and stimulation, and lucky for her she will be with her new “dad” all day, as he works outside and will take her everywhere with him.

So four great adoptions, one reservation, and loads of fun, cake and walks.

However as usual there was a downside. Apart from the border three other dogs arrive, one abandoned and two unlikely to be reclaimed.

Sometimes we feel we are running to stand still, but I tell myself that the dogs who arrived would have done so anyway, and thanks to this weekend ten dogs have new homes.

Thanks to everyone for a great weekend!

New arrival a lovely (but unidentified) border collie

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Joelle with Springbok and his new family

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Sashimi  – ADOPTED

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Chinah – ADOPTED

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Our friends from Dog Park 11 leaving after a hard day’s work!

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And one of several cakes that they brought to keep us motivated!

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Open Day Saturday – six adoptions

Today was day one of the two open days which take place each year to honour St Francis of Assisi. We are open the first Sunday of the month (tomorrow) in any case, so we were expecting today to be just a normal Saturday. But it wasn’t.

For a start the place was packed. Many people were obliged to park outside the gates, as the parking area was full. Plus there were masses of volunteers to walk dogs and play with the cats. The sun shone and we had no fewer than six adoptions, plus two dogs were reclaimed.

So to start off , Dyson and Hoover (whose real name is Caramel) found their owner. The reunion was lovely to see. But that was not the only reunion of the day. Till had been abandoned in May, described by his tearful family as the perfect dog, whom they were unable to keep due to their child’s allergy. In the five months since then their child has been properly diagnosed, and his illness has nothing to do with dogs at all. So they came back to collect Till. Thankfully he had not been adopted in the meantime (despite his impeccable references) as he could not be happier than with this family, nor they with him, I am sure.

Another lucky dog today was Sushi, one of our lab cross puppies. Just two left now, both boys. Then came another amazing adoption, that of Leika, the little one-eyed fox terrier who was abandoned at the age of ten years. She is lively for her age, but she is still incredibly fortunate to have been chosen so soon after her arrival. There are some great people out there.

Boxer Lecsi left too, she is gradually putting on weight and will be beautiful in no time now she is in a family home. A proper one, that is!

One dog whom I have loved walking ever since she arrived in April is Misty. Incredibly beautiful as well as distinctive, this girl was listed as being missing on the excellent website “chien perdu”. However when we contacted the owners to say that she was at the SPA, they said “Oh,that is okay then” and never came to collect her! Today she left with a family with three young children. A fabulous life awaits her, I am sure.

The adoption of the day has to be that of Whiska, who has been waiting not so patiently for almost two years. She arrived in a terrible state, thin and exhausted. She has blossomed over time and has become a fun loving and playful dog. Her adoption today was great news and we wish her loads of happiness in her new home.

It was not all positive, however. Sadly Peps has been returned after a week; he needs a strong owner to bring him into line, and he had this. However Peps’s bounciness and general enthusiasm for life will have to be dealt with in a home without small children. He is not at all bitey, but he is large, and with bruises all round, it was best that this boy come back before any serious harm is done. The adopter was extremely upset, and we hope that he and his family do not feel bleak for too long. They are great dog lovers and are welcome to come and see us again when they are ready. Sometimes you can only do so much.  Peps is the one that is to blame here; silly boy!

We had a couple of other new arrivals, but I will deal with those in due course; it is possible that they are just lost. Let’s keep positive for today; eight dogs leaving is not a bad total! And tomorrow is another day, to quote Scarlett O’Hara.

Till – READOPTED by his own family!

























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And last but not least Whiska – ADOPTED after 2 years (here with godmother Dominique)








And how she was when she arrived

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How Roadie became Brody

Both of the DRC bloggers are busy this evening on SPA business, and so tonight’s blog comes courtesy of Rob, fellow dog-walker and adopter of a dog who touched the hearts of many people at the SPA during his (fortunately) brief time there.

We promise a proper update tomorrow, and are hoping to see lots of you over the weekend, as it is Open Day Sunday!

Now over to Rob:

Roadie arrived at SPA Carcassonne in very poor shape, having been abandoned on a main road (hence the name), and found seriously injured. He spent several weeks in the refuge’s infirmary and staff were not sure that he would pull through.  It’s too distressing to give details of his injuries. After lots of patient care he was released from intensive care and came out for a walk in the February sunshine before being assigned a kennel.  I walk dogs at SPA and was one of the first people he saw when he came out and, timid as he was, he came up for a cuddle.

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight for either of us but I decided to foster him that same day so that he didn’t have to be kenneled. My partner and I had been considering a second dog as company for our eight-year old Alsatian-Boxer cross, Flora. Roadie and I travelled home to meet the family.  He was very wary of his new surroundings and of his new big sister. Flora, for her part, was miffed at not having been consulted, but tolerated the newcomer on the understanding that we’d be taking him back to where he came from asap. It took a long time for her to accept him, afterall, she’d been an only child for eight years but she’s great with him now, so long as he remembers who is top dog.

Roadie was a difficult name for our French-speaking neighbours to pronounce and a name with a harder consonant at the beginning is easier to call. We wanted his new name to be similar in sound for the sake of familiarity. Brody was the name of the hero of a TV series back in 2013 so Brody it was. For the first month or two, he was referred to, in a lilting Scots accent, as “Wee Brody” until he got used to the house rules after which, we were able to drop the “wee”.

Brody and Flora now spend all day in each other’s company, begging treats from neighbours, messing in the river and harassing the Roe deer which live in our forested valley. In the summer months they spend lazy afternoons soaking up the sun on the church steps, scratching round with our chickens in the back garden or squeezing through the rosemary hedge into the potager to steal cherry tomatoes. Brody’s a happy lad, very much at home and enjoying a life which is rich and varied in every season.  He’s loved and responds in kind with an enthusiastic and generous affection.  We’re all happy to have found each other.


Brody 3









And with his sister Flora



Two adoptions but two arrivals.

There is a poster that circulates on the internet from time to time stating that only one dog in 9 will spend its whole life with one family. This is a sad statistic, and reflects many aspects of modern life; we are far more mobile than in the past; we are in a recession and we regard animals as being effectively disposable.

When an identified dog arrives at the SPA it is very common to hear that the owner on the iCAD document has in fact given the dog away, sometimes many years earlier. This is where our team of amateur sleuths enters, and the hunt for the current owner begins. Sometimes during this process you come across someone who looked after the dog temporarily, while a “permanent” home was found.

Such was the case with Jimmy, who had passed through several homes before arriving at the SPA. The lady who looked after him before his “real” owners found him a new home was devastated to see that he was at the SPA. She got in touch with the Vide Grenier team on Sunday and Julie was able to reclaim Jimmy on the lady’s behalf. He was already castrated and fully up to date with his vaccinations, and his iCAD paperwork has been tracked down. No point in keeping this lovely boy at the refuge any longer than necessary!

Jimmy is well known to just about everyone in Quillan (I think the entire village has taken a turn looking after him), so it is great to know that he is going back to familiar ground, but this time to a stable home!

In other SPA news, yesterday’s spaniel was reclaimed (phew) as was a young shepherd cross who was brought in this morning. And Kaiseki, the chocolate brown puppy was adopted.

However two dogs were brought in, Dyson, who is a former SPA dog, and a lovely lab cross who has been provisionally named Hoover. Let’s hope their owners come to get them, otherwise we are back to square on in terms of numbers.

Jimmy sees Julie “Boy, am I  pleased to see YOU”

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And even happier to be in the car on my way home!

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Kaiseki – ADOPTED












New arrival – Dyson

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And a dog that may have the same owners, whom we have called Hoover

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Adoption of Ewa!

Today was better than yesterday, in that only one dog arrived! This was a five year old female spaniel, who may just be lost. Let’s hope her owners are looking for her, and that she does not become yet another spaniel looking for a home; the SPA is not short of them; we have no fewer than eight spaniel or spaniel crosses at the moment! They make wonderful pets and should really not be dismissed as hunt dogs, despite their superhuman sense of smell!

Today also saw the adoption of one dog who was lost and, despite his microchip and our best efforts to find his owners, he was never reclaimed.

Like so many of our dogs, Ewa is nothing much to look at. Another shepherd cross, nothing to distinguish him from the other dogs of this “breed” at the SPA.

And this is where the expertise and experience of both volunteers and employees comes in. Some people wonder why we volunteers spend so much time walking dogs. We could spend our time doing other things, there is always plenty to do at the SPA and elsewhere. However walking dogs helps us get to know them. On returning from a walk, we invariably speak to the staff, with comments like “he pulls like a tractor” or “she loves rolling around in puddles”. The staff know the dogs well too, but seldom have the time to spend with them outside their kennels or the parks. All the information helps build up a picture of a dog’s character and manageability, and makes it easier to match a dog with a potential new owner. Not forgetting the fact that walking dogs is great fun for all, and we save a fortune on gym membership!

When someone arrives looking for a dog with specific qualities, we have a mental check list. So and so is no good with cats, so and so pulls on the lead etc. And sometimes a dog just ticks all the boxes! Such was the case with Ewa. Fine on the lead, fine with cats, calm, mature, good with other dogs…..BINGO!

Lovely Ewa left today after four and a half months at the SPA. He is a fabulous dog, and at eight and a half years old, he is lucky to be given a second chance. His original owners lost a gem of a dog, and we will never know why they didn’t want him any longer!

So one out and one in….More adoptions required, but not a bad day!













Seven year old Gisele, one of our lovely spaniels looking for a home


One adoption, five arrivals and some good Samaritans.

Some dogs arrive at the SPA and you think to yourself “this could go either way”. Either he will stay for ever, looking as he does a bit like a hunt dog and being timid, or he will just catch someone’s eye and leave almost immediately. Such a dog was Nestor, who arrived with a horrific wound to his neck, having been tied up with a chain that had dug deep into his skin. When Sarah (she of Animal Trust transport fame) was here, the two of us sat in Nestor’s kennel with him, just ignoring him. He started to approach us and sniff and let himself be patted. Curiosity is good. We decided he would be fine!

Mixing him with Pulco, a very lively and outgoing dog has helped, and on Thursday last week, once he had his second vaccination, Nestor went for his first walk. Shortly thereafter he was reserved. Better still, his new “mum” is the real life human mum of Sherman’s owner! The two dogs got on fine and we know that if Nestor is loved even a fraction as much as is Sherman, he will be a very happy dog indeed!

That was the good news. The rest of the afternoon was not quite so pleasant. After the relative quiet of yesterday we had five new arrivals. Two are puppies who may or may not survive, and three are adult dogs, some of whom may have someone looking for them, if they are lucky.

However a young couple restored my faith in human nature today; they found a small fluffy dog in the middle of the road today, with a leg injury that had recently been operated on. They fell in love with this dog and wanted to keep him, but knew that someone might be looking for him. Despite the fact that he was not identified (grrr), they brought him to the SPA and Carole was able to reunite him with his owners. Had the young couple been less honest they could have just had the dog identified in their own name, and their owner would have been none the wiser; she would just have wondered where her dog was.

Identify your dogs. And better still, get them castrated or sterilised at the same time!

Nestor when he arrived four weeks ago

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And on his first walk. Different dog!













New arrival  found in Caunes Minervois









New arrival – Genesis













New arrival Jacqui. She is smaller than she looks on the photo!



Renee arrives in Scotland!

Although it has been several weeks since she left the SPA, today was the day when Renee (known as Ilda at the SPA) finally arrived in Scotland. Since leaving the SPA some six weeks ago she has been in foster with Elinor and her husband Dave (proud parents of Maddie, aka Malaga). Needless to say they have sorted out the reason for Renee’s abandonment, she is now perfectly house trained! Many thanks to Elinor and her husband for achieving in a couple of weeks what Renee’s owners didn’t manage to achieve in a year. Amazing what you can do with love and patience, isn’t it?

As someone who gets extremely attached to dogs, even ones who are at the SPA and not even in my home, I have to express huge admiration for anyone who can look after a dog for this long and not cry when they hand him or her over to her new owners. Or maybe tears are shed…..In any case, thanks to Elinor and Dave and all our other foster families. Personally I don’t know how you do it, but I am glad you do!

Meanwhile at the SPA it was a zero game. That is to say no dogs in and no dogs out. Or rather there were some arrivals, but they were identified so left straightaway. We have had worse Mondays, that is for sure!

A bit of advance warning for this coming Sunday. Not only is it the first Sunday of the month, but it is also the day chosen nationwide to honour St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. Of course the SPA will be open in the afternoon, but we will also be joined by our friends from another local association, Dog Park 11. They will come along to walk dogs and, as they have done previously, will be giving gifts to any dogs who are lucky enough to be adopted (or reserved) on the day. I am sure it will be fun, providing the weather decides to cooperate that is!  We will be there regardless, naturally, but we would like to pre-order some sunshine if possible!

Renee with her buddies 











And with Dave on one of the many excursions she has taken whilst in foster


Congratulations all round!

Sundays are quite strange days from a blogging point of view, as with the exception of the first Sunday of the month, the SPA is closed. So what we tend to do is to catch up on some of our old friends, or write about a topic of general interest to dog lovers.

Today we have something a bit special. Many of you know Isa and Canelle, either in person (as she comes to walk dogs as often as possible) or via the Internet. She is the athlete who takes part in canicross events with her ex – SPA dog Canelle.

Well, last weekend Isa and Canelle took part in the French national championships, and much to their (and our) delight, they finished on the podium! Isa and Canelle were placed third in the “seniors” category, which is an incredible achievement. All the more special as during the recent Tour of the Mountains, Canelle suffered from heat stroke and had to retire from the competition. She is clearly back on form!

We are so proud of them, and are delighted that Isa continues to publicise the SPA Carcassonne. Here she is on the podium, proudly advertising her links with the refuge. Perhaps more people will stop considering refuge dogs to be “damaged goods”. Isa would not swap her beloved Canelle for the world’s finest pedigree.

In other news, today was the day of the Vide Grenier in Quillan and the DRC team raised a massive total of €520 euros! The team said that things seemed very quiet and they were surprised by the amount raised. All I can say is that if that is how much they raise on a quiet day, heaven knows what a busy day would be like. Thanks to Julie, and the newly christened “Team GB VG” for their time and devotion. Thanks also to all the other stallholders for their donations and to everyone who gave us their unwanted items to sell. As we say, one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure.

The entire sum will be used to help the dogs of the SPA Carcassonne, of course. That is what DRC is for!

And finally, for your Sunday night delight and delectation, we have more news from Belgium! Brandy has been adopted by a lovely family with 2 children! So five of “our” six dogs have found new homes within 3 weeks of arriving at Animal Trust. Only Canaille is left, and I am sure his turn will come. In fact I am sure that only his operation has delayed his adoption.

We are so happy for Brandy. Thank to so much to all at Animal Trust. The happy home of second chances!

Isa and Canelle- triumphant and proudly supporting the SPA Carcassonne












The Vide Grenier at Quillan with someone perusing pictures of the SPA dogs













Brandy – ADOPTED thanks to Animal Trust.