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Latest News

Walking and getting good news!

Yet another beautiful sunny day here in Carcassonne and the volunteers were out in force. For some reason Thursdays seem to be Brit days, so if any French volunteers fancy improving their English, Thursdays would be a good day to come!

No dogs came in, no dogs went out. We ended the day with exactly the same number as we started with, although one identified dog did make a brief appearance.

We have had recent and very good news on three of our recently dogs, though sadly no photos yet. Fido, the poodle cross is doing excellently, as is lovely Duffy, who has been renamed Trompette. She has turned out to be just as cat-friendly as we promised, and her new owner is over the moon. Cheyenne too is doing well and is going to agility classes at the Club Canin Trebes. That is every Malinois’ dream, so it goes to show that her long wait at the refuge was worth while, as it meant finding the perfect home!

Another dog who found the perfect home is Canelle. She, as you remember, was adopted by one of our supporters, Isa, specifically for doing canicross. Isa has just returned from the European Championships in Switzerland, where she was placed 17th overall and the 5th French female. An incredible achievement and, as the photos show, there is a love and complicity between human and dog that is wonderful to behold!

In a perfect world every dog would find the perfect home, and this is what we want for all the dogs at the SPA. But while they are waiting, the volunteers and employees give them as much love as possible so they are ready to move on when their turn comes!

Isa and Canelle










And at the finish, draped in the French Tricolore!



Deed not Breed

People often visit the refuge and ask about some of the dogs that are there but whom they have not seen on the website. Sometimes this is because I am just behind the curve, often it is because there are as yet no photos of the dogs, and sometimes it is because the dog is already reserved, so there is no point going through all the work of putting the dog and his details on the site if he already has a home. All the more so as although I write the text, I have to rely on the web-elves who do the hard bit and I don’t want to abuse them.

Some dogs I do not put on the site, because unfortunately they are unadoptable. No, I do not mean that they are so aggressive that we cannot possible risk them leaving the SPA. I am referring to our so-called “dangerous” dogs. I hate this expression and I hate this law.

Basically it is French law that certain dogs are “dangerous”. Rottweilers, pedigree American Staffordshire terriers and pedigree Tosas are Category 2 (defense dogs), so we are allowed to home them. However this involves lots of paperwork; the dog has to be tested for its behaviour (involving being manipulated by a vet who has the appropriate training), the owner has to go on a course to understand his responsibilities and he must inform his insurance company and the Mairie that he owns the dog.

Then there are the Category 1 dogs. They are described by French law as attack dogs. Here we have all the non-pedigree staffies and staffie crosses, mastiffs (ie pitbulls) and non-pedigree tosas and crosses. There are very strict measurements that apply here, and sometimes a couple of centimetres can make all the difference. Many a time we have waited nervously at the refuge while a “borderline” dog is taken to the vet to have its breeding assessed.

Officially Category 1 dogs have no right to exist and if their parents’ owners had been more responsible and sterilised their dogs, they would NOT exist. Equally the refuge is not legally permitted to home Category 1 dogs. The law requires that they are put down within 48 hours of their arrival. However you know what a bunch of softies we are at the SPA, so thanks to Carole we have an agreement with a specialist association, who provides “cover” for our dogs while they are waiting for a home. Even then, the association (el Rancho de Canailles) does not have the right to home the dogs, but they home them in long term foster, so the dogs can have a normal family life. All Category 1 dogs have to be sterilised or castrated, for obvious reasons.

All our “dangerous dogs”, be they Category 1 or 2, are loved and although we do not have the right to walk them (even once they are homed, they have to be muzzled at all times when in public), they spend the mornings (when the refuge is shut) in the parks. In fact some of them live in the top parks. I often go in for a cuddle, as do some of the other volunteers.

And the reason I don’t put them on my website? I am not sure that any Brits are able to work their way through the paperwork required to adopt one of these dogs. If you disagree, please get in touch.

And the reason I don’t like this law? It is ridiculous and completely arbitrary. Different breeds are considered dangerous in different countries. In England, for instance, the Dogue Argentin is banned, whereas here you can adopt one with no additional paperwork at all. It is a form of racism caused much more by the reputation of a breed, which is inevitably down to the owners.

I have been bitten by a couple of dogs at the SPA, but never by our lovely staffies!

We at the SPA are great believers in DEED NOT BREED.

Connor, a pedigree American Staffordshire Terrier. Category 2







Zina, a staffie cross Category 1


A different kind of cuddle!

It is not every day that I have a farewell cuddle with a dog like Duffy; calm, gentle and affectionate. On the other hand, it is not every day that I have a farewell cuddle with a dog like Roxanne. This German shepherd pup was found and brought into the SPA on the Saturday before the Open Day, and she was reserved the very next day. So she just had to wait her ten days before she could leave. In fact her name was chosen by her new family, as we knew she was going to leave so didn’t want to confuse her!

Today was the day! It was amazing that this photo even happened. It is the only one of about 10 that is actually in focus. This little dog really moves! In fact, when I said I had a farewell cuddle, it would be more accurate to say that I had a farewell wriggle!  It was really nice, though, and I am sure that in time she will develop Duffy’s more mature way of accepting affection!

A number of volunteers were at the refuge today and so several dogs were walked, and a few new dogs arrived, too sadly. One of them was reclaimed and to the man (not “gentleman”) who brought one of them in, please don’t blame the dog if he is in your garden. Please don’t threaten to hurt him if he comes back into your garden. The only person to blame is the dog’s owner and perhaps yourself, but do not threaten to hurt a dog who is just following his instincts.

The new arrivals since I have been away include two jack Russell pups, a female coton de tulear, some older calm dogs and some big beautiful younger ones, too. In short, something for everyone! Come and see us, take them for a walk and enjoy some canine company with like-minded folk. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon, for sure!

Roxanne the wriggler








New arrivals Gulliver




















…and Bikini


Good news day!

It is me, Darcey, back again after my work-related wanderings! Although it is a Monday and not one of my normal refuge days (not that any of them are “normal” per se), I had to pop in to the SPA to deal with some paperwork. Talk about good timing!

I was there just as Duffy was being adopted! I had time to give her a final cuddle, and I was not the only one who wanted to say goodbye to this lovely, gentle girl. She had been with us since the beginning of July, which isn’t very long, but we all loved her and could not understand why she had not found a home until now. So when a kindly gentleman came in saying that he wanted a female dog who was not in the first flush of youth, Sabrina thought of Duffy immediately. However he specified that the dog should be neither black nor white, so clever Sabrina asked if a mixture of the two would be okay!

Duffy fit the bill perfectly, and as she was already sterilised and micro-chipped, off she went!

Gromit, our beautiful young spaniel left for his new home too, and yet another lucky leaver today was Rocky, whose owner is ill, but has some friends who have taken Rocky home with them until he can go back to his real owner. This pint-sized German Shepherd cross had many admirers, but ultimately going back “home” is the best solution for him, so that is great news.

Going back to the real owners is not always the best option, and this was emphasised by the arrival of yet another of the Anatolian Shepherd puppies. They are all accounted for now. Five in the refuge, and three homed by the vets (and we hope they are good homes). The rest (apparently there was a litter of 11) died at birth. I refer back to Moira’s excellent article yesterday on sterilisation. Why oh why oh why…….However all the stray pups are now with us, safe and well-fed at the SPA; a situation they have never known in their lives. When they are fit and healthy they will be rehomed and their days of neglect and misery will be over for ever!

All in all a good day. Big happy smiles from me today!

Duffy finds a home
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Gromit is adopted too

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And Rocky goes to friends of his owners











The Myths Of Sterilization

In light of all the pups who have recently arrived I thought that we would deal with the benefits and myths of sterilizing your dogs!

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

Sterilizing 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 so as well as looking unsightly the risk of disease would lesson. 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 if 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 may 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 sterilize their pets?

Some say it’s the cost but really there are a lots of myths about sterilization: Here are a few:

-My dog is a male! – This comment normally comes from men! In addition to the benefits listed above, 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 behavior – you are stopping the dog from following its natural instinct – to propagate the breed.

-All female dogs should be allowed to have one litter before sterilization. False. There are absolutely no health benefits by allowing this at all.  In actual fact female dogs that are sterilized before the first heat cycle have much lower risks of developing mammary cancers.

-You should always let a female have one heat period before sterilization. False.The only thing allowing a bitch to have one session may accomplish, is the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy!

-It will change my dog’s personality. Dog owners tend to accord anthropomorphic properties to 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; he retains his playful instincts.

-Sterilization will make my dog fat. False, although the lower average metabolic rate of sterilized dogs will make it easier for some dogs to gain weight, this can be eliminated by cutting the daily food intake by about 15% subsequent to the sterilization procedure. Remember, sterilization will not make your dog fat – too much food and not enough exercise will make your dog fat!

-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.

So no more excuses, no more letting someone else take responsibility, please just sterilize you dogs!



Its Summer Again..but 4 Adoptions and 6 Reservations!

Today truly was the end for Summer! Summer arrived with her sister as pups and we were all delighted when she was the first to be adopted as black dogs in France are usually the first to go. So Summer  didn’t have to spend too long at the SPA and in June she left with who seemed the perfect family.

You can only imagine our devastation when she was returned today due to, wait for it, her owners moving to an apartment!  So I wonder what really happened, did the novelty of a six month old pup wear off after three short months or did they expect that she would train herself and return her when this didn’t happen. Most accommodations in France accept dogs so couldn’t they be bothered walking downstairs to exercise or toilet her? Young lanky adolescents can have a long wait at the SPA, I wonder what Summer would have preferred, an apartment with her family or a concrete kennel? Shame on them, to give up on a young pup after 3 months is not acceptable! But although Summer is back I cant help but think that she deserves better and we will find her a super forever family!

And we do try our very best for our doggies as today’s 4 adoptions have proved.

First to leave was our beautiful  3 year old Braque cross Piper. Her kennel mate Malage left for Scotland a month ago but today it was Pipers day and off she went.

She was very quickly followed by two pups, Heddet and Heka from our Egyptian God and Goddesses litter. These two lovely pups are the first to leave from a litter of eight, so 6 more to go!

Then Paradise from the Cocktail litter was adopted. I love these pups and took Bronx, their litter mate to Bordeaux last week. These border collie cross griffon pups are a wonderful cross, absolutely stunning and very, very calm happy pups.

Theses adoptions were followed by 6 reservations!!! I did say to Darcey that the things would pick up and they have. This is not down to luck but to the absolute dedication of our fantastic staff and volunteers. A massive thank you to everyone who adopted, reserved dogs, worked or volunteered today. What a day!

Summer is back again


Piper Has Left



Heddet was adopted


As was Heka



Last to leave was Paradise


Why Do Dogs End Up In The SPA?

Today we had five dogs arrive at the SPA, luckily one was claimed, but tonight I thought we would discuss why dogs end up in refuge.

When thinking about a new dog a lot of people ask why they should rescue rather than buy a pup from a neighbor or breeder and also why so many dogs end up at the SPA. Some people are suspicious and think that dogs who end up in rescue are genetically or behaviorally inferior. This really is not true. Many dogs lose their homes for different reasons and mostly its to do with problems the person or family giving up the dog is experiencing or has caused and is seldom the dogs fault!

Dogs come to the SPA for many reasons and believe me we have heard the lot! Many people buy or take a pup on impulse and when the novelty runs out they no longer want the responsibility. Others claim they no longer have time for the dog, have to work longer hours or have to move to a new home where pets aren’t accepted. I am getting divorced or my wife is pregnant are excuses we hear all the time as well as my child has become allergic to the dog. Lots of pups arrive because people don’t sterilize their pet. Why not? Is it the cost, ignorance or they simply don’t care? Sometimes we do hear stories where the owner is very ill or has even died and in my opinion that’s what the SPA should really be there for.

So what can we do to stop dogs being abandoned?

The first and most important thing is to think long and hard before getting a dog. The SPA encourages potential dog adopters to think carefully before deciding whether or not to take a dog home. Do your research and factor in whether or not you’ll be able to afford the dog, spend the necessary amount of time with them, and meet their mental and physical needs before agreeing to get one. Make sure nobody in the household is allergic before you bring it home, and be responsible and get your new pet spayed or neutered. If you don’t sterilize your dog and allow it to roam its not hard to predict the consequences, so if you are not prepared for the responsibility of a litter of pups then sterilize your dog as soon as possible.

Secondly, train your dog! All dogs need training and guidance and many dogs are abandoned when they hit adolescence and their behavior becomes an issue. If you are experiencing behavioral problems with your pet please seek advice and try to work through them. The bond you develop with your dog will really validate all your efforts.

Thirdly, be prepared to adapt to life’s changes. If you suddenly have to work longer hours or change jobs then get up a bit earlier and walk your dog, consider a dog walker or ask a  friend to help. Believe me, your dog would much prefer that to being abandoned at the SPA!

Last but certainly not least, sterilize you pets!

It’s seldom better for a dog to be abandoned than adapt to household changes and some dogs have a long wait before new homes are found. We have dogs who have been with us more than two years and sadly that is the reality of abandonment! Would you want that for your faithful friend?

Calvin – My Daddy Died ! 


Uta & Ugo – Our owners moved to an apartment!



Innuit – My owners moved and didn’t update the database!


 My mum wasn’t sterilized and I have 11 brothers and sisters!


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





From bad to worse.

As I mentioned yesterday, there was a net increase in the number of dogs at the refuge despite the open days. This is not usually the case. What ALWAYS happens, however, is that people assume that the refuge will have space after the open weekend, so they choose the Monday afterwards to abandon their dogs.

Today we have had four new arrivals; two puppies and two adults, none of whom is identified.

We have no space.

We cannot carry on like this.

Can anyone give us some advice as to what we should do, please? We already sterilise all the females that leave the refuge, so the puppies who are arriving on what appears to be a daily basis are not our fault. What can we do to stop people abandoning their dogs?
What can we do with all the dogs we have got at the refuge if no one is adopting?

If you look at things logically, there are only a certain number of people who are willing and able to adopt, and once they all have animals, there is nowhere else for the dogs to go, other than the refuges. Ours is now full.

We have not conducted any euthanasia due to lack of space for three years and this is something of which we are all extremely proud. We do not want to return to the bad old days. But we have several puppies in foster care, and several adult dogs too, and despite this, there is no more room at the refuge. The SPA acts as the pound, so we are legally obliged to take any stray dogs brought in by the Mairies with whom we have an agreement, and from the Police and Gendarmes too.

And the icing on the cake? The Anatolian Shepherds who were brought in yesterday are three of a litter of 12, the other nine having been given away randomly to anyone who wanted a puppy. I am convinced that most, if not all of them, will arrive at the refuge in due course. Sterilise your dog, you irresponsible people!

So what can we do? Does anyone have any answers? Can anyone help us, please. And don’t think we are all just sitting idle, waiting for help. We are constantly looking for answers and ideas. Thanks in advance to Association Orfee, who are taking five of our dogs later on this month. Can anyone else out there offer a lifeline to any of our dogs, please?

I have no good news to give you today. I see no end to this and I feel more desperate than I have for years.

Sterilise your dogs!








I am upset and angry (in case you hadn’t guessed)