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Latest News

A happy visit and an appeal.

Yesterday I mentioned that Dominique and I had been to visit a couple of old friends and that I would tell you more tomorrow. Well, here we go.

When I said “old friends”, only one of them is old. The other is just a puppy and they have been homed together. The fact that Dominique went to visit may be the final clue to enable you to guess about whom I am talking…..Got it yet?

Tom and Jazz!

Tom has been with the family for 3 weeks, and Jazz for two, and they, together with the family’s other male, golden lab, Miel, are now well settled in and enjoying their new life. Isa, who looked after Jazz in foster, was worried that “her” little pup would miss her dog, Luna, who had acted as a surrogate mum for Jazz. Well, despite the fact that Tom is a male, Jazz seems to regard him as his new mum, and the two of them are very close, with Tom teaching Jazz good doggy manners, like how hard to bite and when enough is enough.

It was a lovely visit, and much to my surprise, Dominique didn’t cry!

We have started running out of certain things at the refuge, and so rather than buy them new, we are wondering if anyone can help us out. Here is the Facebook album of what we need



  • But for those of you who don’t have Facebook, we are after the following items
    Hand sanitising gel (I know that some health facilities have to throw opened bottles away after 30 days, regardless of how much is left. We would be grateful for any left-overs)
  • A wipe off notice board and marker pens
  • Lever arch files, either blue or red (doesn’t matter if they are a bit battered)
  • Worming tablets (Milbemax or similar)
  • Almo Nature dog food (available from Zooplus and deliverable to the refuge)

The SPA no longer has a Paypal account, by the way, so please do not send money that way. Far better to send us the items via post if possible or if you are in the area and can pop in, even better!

Thank you as ever for your support and solidarity.

Jazz tries out his teeth on Tom the Tolerant









Look how big he is getting












Dominique has a cuddle. No tears!










This is the dog food we would like, please










And hand gel is needed too!


The return of Eduard and bath day for Balthazar!

Not every day can be like yesterday, with its two fabulous adoptions. But there is always something to be happy about, if you look hard enough.

After a couple of days, Sven’s owners have been in touch, so this dog should be leaving us next week. I don’t have the full story, but the main thing is that they were looking for him and he will soon be home where he belongs.

Things were not so good for Eduard (from the Twilight litter), who was abandoned today. The woman who adopted him when he was a puppy, has found it totally impossible to look after a young puppy as well as her children. She stated on the abandonment form that it was not the dog’s fault, but that she was unable to stop her kids pestering him, and he was not enjoying life at all. So we are looking for a new home for this handsome young lad, who is okay with other dogs and cats, but not with children. I think he needs some time off from them!

It was incredibly hot today, so walking dogs was not really a good idea. I did manage a quick walk with Rex, because we took him out of his kennel with the intention of bathing him, only to see that he was clean and shiny. I have since found out that Isabelle had washed him two weeks ago, which explains that. It would have been cruel to have put him straight back in his box, though, so we went to the nearest shady tree and had a cuddle.

Meanwhile both Scooby Doo and Balthazar were getting a nice cooling bath. Or actually Scooby preferred to just be rubbed down with a wet towel (and I learnt something from Carole; water on the back of a dog’s neck is the most effective way to lower their body temperature). But Balthazar got the full treatment. We could have knitted a new dog with all the fur that came off him, and he loved the attention. Being a labrador it was clear that he would love the water, though! I think he thought we needed a wash too, as I think we all got about as wet as he did!

As ever, thanks to everyone who came along. Oh, Dominique and I paid a visit to a couple of old friends, but I will tell you more about that tomorrow!

Eduard – Back at the SPA
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Scooby Doo gets a cooling neck rub
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Balthazar enjoying a bath and a kiss from his God mummy

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A miracle for Julia.

I promised some good news tonight, and have I got news for you!

Today saw the adoption of Julia. Yes, Julia, the staffie cross. Category one, dangerous dog, blah blah blah. Julia had been brought to the SPA in November 2012 by our cruelty inspector. She had been found in a cellar and doubtless used to breed puppies. At the time she was three years old and a fabulous looking dog. Her owners made an attempt to reclaim her (this was when there was a hoo-ha in the press about Kitty, with her owners trying to claim financial damages, so I think Julia’s owners thought they may be in for a cash bonanza). We stood firm, and in any case, with Julia being a “dangerous dog” they were unable to take her without going through the required process.

Julia had been at the refuge for 19 months when, at June’s Sunday open day, a couple arrived at the SPA looking for a pet. They hadn’t decided if they wanted a dog or a cat, so we just advised them to have a look round. They returned to the reception having fallen in love with Julia. Oops. Problem. But they were not put off by Carole’s detailed explanations as to the steps needed to adopt a category one dog. On the contrary, in fact. They just got down to business, contacting the association with whom we work (the excellent El Rancho les Canailles http://www.erlc13.fr/) and visiting Julia on a regular basis.

Carole gave up some of her precious spare time to do a home check on the couple, which went well, and yesterday they finally received permission from the Mairie to take Julia home. Final hoop cleared!

Homing even a category two dog (a Rottweiler or pedigree staff) is cause for celebration. But a category one dog? Virtually unheard of. Notwithstanding the fact that Julia, like our other cat 1 dogs is sociable and affectionate. In fact one of the “hoops” is a character assessment, which involves a series of manipulations to see the reaction of the dog and here Julia got top marks, as we knew she would.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Julia at the SPA. She had to undergo a major operation for a damaged cruciate ligament. How do we justify that kind of an expense on a dog who is not homeable? We justify it because every single dog is worth saving, if at all possible, regardless of how the law views certain breeds.

So well done to everyone, thanks to El Rancho, thanks to Carole and Melanie in particular for all the work they put in, and thanks to this fabulous couple for not being deterred by paperwork. Love is love. Julia will reward your kindness a thousand fold.

There was another lucky boy, young Zephyr was adopted. He had officially been found and brought in as a stray, but you don’t have to be a genius to be able to tell when someone is abandoning their own dog. This time, though, he is with people who really want him, and as with Julia, we expect to have news and pictures as this young dog grows up!

Finally and on a more negative note, if you bring your dog to the SPA claiming you have found it, make sure you delete the advert you have placed on leboncoin or other websites where you have been trying to give him or her away. The owners of Jeena, yesterday’s puppy, forgot to do so (thank you to a Facebook follower who sent us the advert). Now we all know that giving away a non-identified animal is illegal, so according to the advert Jeena is both tattooed and vaccinated. Yeah, right. I understand that it is impossible for leboncoin to police every advert, of course, but Jeena’s owners lied in the advert and again to us when they abandoned their dog. They are not people I would want to have as my friends, that’s for sure.

No arrivals today.  A VERY good day!

Julie – ADOPTED. Not a dry eye in the house!











Zephyr – ADOPTED


Arrival of another puppy……

The fourth of yesterday’s arrivals found her owner today, which was good news. What was not such good news was the fact that the message Carole left on the answerphone of the official owners did not reach the dog’s current owners straight away. Fifi had been given away and the change had not been notified to the central database in Paris. However as long as they can find  the time, the new owners will come and collect her tomorrow and we will encourage them to make the change so that if Fifi ever goes missing again, they can find out straight away, rather than leave their dog in a concrete kennel for 2 days.

Thanks to the girls who came along to walk the dogs; I think we had a great time, and there was just enough breeze to keep us and our canine charges cool. And thanks to whoever it was (I suspect Belinda) who left 6 duck eggs on my car. Don’t worry, I did find them before I drove away!

In other news there was an arrival of another puppy. This one is going to be BIG! The vet says Pyrenean Mountain dog, or mostly, so if you are looking for a puppy who is going to grow a lot, this could be the girl for you. Guess where she was found? All together now…one…two…three….LIMOUX!

She is in foster with Carole (thanks) and is called Jeena. Three months old and 15 kg. Yikes!

The SPA was in court today for yet another cruelty case, but no sooner had the Air Traffic Control strike finished than the lawyers’ strike begun. So that is on hold.

I know that things may seem a bit quiet on the adoption front, but I promise that there is big news on the way. Tomorrow will be a blog not to miss!

Fifi- details not up to date on the database so she is waiting for her new owners to come and collect her. (They know she is at the SPA) 
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New arrival Jeena. Looking for a puppy who will be big, anyone?


Four arrivals and more animal cruelty

Today was not the best of days at the SPA, with four new canine arrivals, only one of whom was identified and one of whom had to go through hell before reaching our door

There was one reservation, but news of that will emerge when the lucky dog leaves. So for tonight I will just introduce you to the new arrivals.

Olaff, who is a handsome young border collie, was in the process of being thrown from a bridge by his owner when a passer by and then the police intervened (http://www.lindependant.fr/2014/06/20/limoux-il-voulait-jeter-son-chien-dans-l-aude,1897128.php)

No idea why, as this is a lovely dog who is well behaved and sociable with other dogs. Having said that, it has been quite some time since I have even pretended to understand people. Without wishing to denigrate the other residents of the town, many of you will not be surprised to know that this event took place in (wait for it) Limoux! Naturally the SPA will be taking legal action. Having said that, the owner of Phoenix was given a 2 month suspended sentence, so we cannot hope for much of a punishment for this act of cruelty either. If I ruled the world things would be very different, I can tell you. I would be looking for a very high bridge at this very moment! Old Testament stuff for me!

Second we have Sven, who looks enormous in this photo, but in fact he weighs around 20 kg, about the same as a cocker spaniel. I like the picture though, as he is looking big and majestic. He seems to have been wandering lost and alone for some time, but I bet he will look great once he has had a cut and blow-dry!

And then there is little Yoko. No, unlike John Lennon’s wife, this Yoko is a boy. He is a shepherd cross and is just adorable. But aren’t all pups?

So four new arrivals and at least three of them probably better off than where they were before. The SPA is but a stepping stone to a better life.

And just to prove it, here is what life CAN be like after the SPA. Here is Clara, with her pal Jackson (he is the jack russell, in case you hadn’t guessed) sailing happily along the Canal du Midi, without a care in the world!

By the way, here are no pictures of arrival number four, but we will take some if Carole cannot track down his owners tomorrow.

Olaff –  lucky escape!










Sven- Not as big as he looks!












Yoko –  O No, I’m a BOY! 😀










And Clara with pal Jackson- It’s a dog’s life!

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A change of life for Rafael

The weather was hot and humid today, but dog walking was possible, so dog walking was done. Thanks to those who came along, devoted as ever.

We did have one adoption, that of five year old German shepherd, Rafael. He had arrived in the refuge at the beginning of June, after a very unsettled life. SPA employee (and volunteer) Melanie finally brought him in after his narcotic addicted owner appeared to have abandoned him. Once he was at the SPA she phoned a couple of times to hurl abuse at Carole and to demand her dog back, but admitted that she had an upcoming prison sentence and did not know what she would do with her dog while she was “inside”.

So today’s adoption will definitely mean a big change for Rafael. His owners are not in the first flush of youth, but neither is he. And they have a friend who will be taking care of the dog, who will spend the most of his life in a huge enclosed garden and being petted. He was due to be welcomed to his new home with an ice cream, so he will be feeling a lot cooler now, after the heat of the SPA.

We had a new arrival, little Puppet, who was found in St Frichoux. The people who found her tried to trace her owners, but with no luck.  What a pint sized cutie she is! Puppet will have no trouble finding a home, I am sure!

Other than that it was a day for pictures. Michele is an excellent photographer, and we are hoping that her photos may encourage some people to adopt. Who knows there may even be a calendar in the offing….watch this space!

Rafael – ADOPTED











New arrival – three year old Puppet

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And look at Michele’s wonderful photo of recent arrival Brad


A sad farewell to foster dog, Alfi.

Today was a very sad one for the refuge and especially for two of our most devoted supporters. I blogged about Fred and Margaret in June 2013, saying the following: “Several months ago a couple arrived at the refuge to adopt a dog as a playmate for their own dog. I chatted to them briefly and told asked them to do the tour of the refuge to see who they liked the look of before making any introductions. They returned shortly afterwards to ask about a little old Yorkie who was cowering in his box, having recently arrived at the refuge. Fred and Margaret have a soft spot for Yorkies, having had them before. They left the refuge with heavy hearts, as adopting an old dog was not at all what they had planned. However the next day, unable to get Alfi (or Flamenco as he then was) off their minds, they came to the refuge to take him home to foster. This means that Alfi (who would have been extremely difficult to home, due to his age and the inevitable vets bills) has a loving home, and Fred and Margaret are to all intents and purposes his owners.”

Alfi / Flamenco arrived at the refuge in November 2012. His health had never been good, as he had a serious heart condition for which he was prescribed tablets (possibly the reason why he had been abandoned). He had regular check-ups at the SPA vets, with Fred and Margaret making long journeys each time to ensure that Alfi got the best of care. Fred is one of our most avid supporters, and is often to be seen at Vide Greniers, raising money for the SPA to cover Alfi’s vets bills.

Alfi’s health has deteriorated rapidly over the last week, with Fred and Margaret spending many nights awake with him as water started to fill his lungs. A series of visits to the vets concluded this morning, with Alfi being put gently to sleep before his suffering became too great.

So tonight I want to say a huge public thank you to Fred and Margaret and their devotion both to the SPA and to this little dog, who had 18 months of nothing but love and good care. Who knows what would have happened to him had he not been taken under their wing. Even though Alfi’s death is very sad, how much sadder for the old dogs who die in the SPA, rather than in a loving home.

Thank you to all our other foster families, and to everyone who is willing to adopt an elderly dog. You are all heroes.

Every day brings both rain and shine, and of course we have some good news to pass on. Bond, who left for the UK (thanks to Moira’s networking and James’s driving) along with five other lucky dogs, has found a home! It took six weeks, which may seem like a long time, but it was nothing compared to the 19 months that he had spent at the SPA Carcassonne. And while he was at the association he had some lovely adventures!  Needless to say Dominique cried. Honestly, there is no pleasing some people 😉

Margaret with Alfi last June. He was loved to his last breath. 








Bond at the UK Association Many Tears – ready to leave!

















Water sports!


Doggy Politics Start To Bite!

A couple of weeks ago saw the first UK National Dog Bite prevention seminar in the UK which I would have really loved to have gone to. Never before have dogs and dangerous dogs been such a hot topic and quite rightly so when hundreds of children are bitten every year and often by their family dog! Topics for discussion included: understanding aggression, recognizing and interpreting canine body language, the effect of punitive training methods on dogs, safe-handling of aggressive dogs, what to do after a dog bites, how to investigate a bite incident, understanding dangerous dog laws, enforcing those laws, victims’ rights, the inadequacies and inefficiencies of breed-specific legislation (BSL) and tips on keeping you and your family safe around dogs.

At the SPA we play a very proactive role in advising families who come along wanting a family pet, what dogs would suit them, how to keep children safe around dogs and we like to ensure that all of our adoptions are safe adoptions. Not all dogs can live with children and not all children can live with dogs.  So, in an attempt to raise awareness of dog bites, staying safe around dogs and the importance of educating your dog, we too are planning a Dog Bite Prevention day in the autumn. This will be an exciting day for all the family where both adults and children can learn how to interpret doggy body language, the importance of teaching our children how to behave around dogs and also why we should educate and socialise our dogs to prevent future problems. Along with SPA supporter Wanda Lee Jones from the Association Vivre Plein Temps we already offer schools Dog Awareness and Safety sessions where through discussion and practical demonstrations the children learn to approach dogs safely, how to behave around dogs and what to do should it all go wrong. The children and the teachers love these sessions and we have lots of positive feedback from them.

There have also been recent changes made to the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act which could have far-reaching consequences for dogs and their owners. The law has previously made owners liable for dogs that are “dangerously out of control” on public property, but now the law will apply to dogs on private property as well. The law was changed in order to protect postmen, but it applies to anyone visiting a person’s home that has a dog. While the law was designed to encourage owners to have better control over their dogs both in public and in their own homes, it has the potential to create trouble for even the most responsible dog owner. The new changes state that a dog does not actually have to be bite in order to be considered dangerous. A person would only have to feel that the dog may injure them. That means that if a dog were to jump up on or bark at a person in excitement, and that person interpreted those actions as aggressive, the dog could be deemed aggressive and the owner fined or arrested and in some cases the dog removed. Under the new rules, allowing a dog to injure a person carries a potential sentence of up to five years in jail, a crime that previously carried only a two-year maximum penalty. The National Animal Welfare Trust encourages owners to be vigilant about their dog’s greeting behaviour at the door, and to manage their dog at all times when anyone comes to the door. For some owners, this may mean hiring a qualified trainer to help with their dog’s behaviour, or simply putting the dog away when visitors come.

What are your thoughts on the new changes to the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act? Effective or over the top?

Under French law certain dogs are categorised. Rottweilers, pedigree American Staffordshire terriers and pedigree Tosas are Category 2 dogs, however, we are allowed to home them. This of course involves paperwork ( doesn’t everything in France!); the dog has to have a behavioural assessment by a vet, 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 and are all the non-pedigree staffies and staffie crosses, mastiffs  and non-pedigree tosas and crosses. . Unfortunately, the refuge is not legally permitted to home Category 1 dogs. Luckily, we have an agreement with a specialist association, who provides “cover” for such dogs while they are waiting for a home.

If you would like one of our categorised dogs then we can help you every step of the way with the paperwork!

Here are some of our Category 1 and 2 dogs who need a forever home!

Zina – Cat 1


Connor – Cat 2 



Glamour – Cat 1





Midsummer’s Day brings freedom to Junior!

Today was a scorcher, and walking the dogs was quite amusing. Several of them ran from tree to tree, where they would lie down enjoying some shade before moving on to the next oasis! It is a tough call as to whether to walk them at all, but bearing in mind they get so few chances to exercise, it is a shame to deny them this pleasure, just because it is hot. Walks are kept short and we make sure that there is plenty of cool water and shade for when they return to their kennels.

Of course another option is to put dogs in the parks. But we learned something today (or at least I did). At about 16H00 Kaira was rushed to the vet, with suspected bloat. Kaira is a dogue de Bordeaux, and they are susceptible to this condition and in fact we nearly lost Kaira earlier this year when she had an emergency operation. Since this time she has had fewer, smaller meals a day.

Today her condition looked very similar, but it turned out to be due to having drunk too much water. So we now know not to put obese or deep chested dogs in the parks when it is hot. They run around and drink too much and get a kind of heat stroke.

Kaira will be fine, and we have learned a valuable lesson.

So what other news? Well, yet another amazing adoption took place today. At the age of nearly eleven, and after over nine months at the SPA, Junior found a home! He stole a young couple’s heart thanks to the (French language) SPA website http://spa-carcassonne.wifeo.com/ and when they visited him, it just confirmed their choice. Junior will have a huge area to play in, and is going to be a very happy dog indeed.

Kaira – too hot, too much to drink. (anyone else guilty?) 😉







Junior- (who is a senior) – ADOPTED

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Arrival of strange looking beastie, and dog beater let off virtually scot-free

Yesterday’s blog was quite rightly devoted to Braquou and the efforts that have been made (thanks to Moira) to get him out of the SPA. I can tell you that he (and James) arrived safe and sound, and that Braquou is now settling in. More photos will arrive. Thanks to Benedicte for his Adaptil collar. If you don’t know about these, they are said to emit the same pheromones as the mother, so help the dog to relax in a new environment. I have never needed them (for my dogs, I mean), but I am told they are very effective.

I was at the refuge today when a new little chap arrived. We have called him Berny, but that is not his real name. We haven’t been able to find that out, as although he is identified, it is a foreign microchip, so it takes a bit more work to find out where this dog came from (Croatia, we think), and more importantly, where he should go! It is possible that his owners may see his photo either here or on Facebook, but in any case, I wanted to show you his photo, as Berny is yet another mystery mix.

What do you reckon? Obviously some teckel (look at his paws), but surely that head belongs to a much bigger dog? Is it possible to have a rhodesian ridgeback/ teckel cross? In any case, with his curly tail and stumpy size, Berny is quite something to look at!

In other catch-up news, Sultan who went missing yesterday (and volunteer Anna was involved in the drama when she bumped into the distraught owner) was reunited with his mum via the SPA. Wally, the spitz (who arrived on Thursday where we named him Cliff) was reclaimed too!

In worse news, today was the date of the court case of the man who was found beating his dog, Phoenix, in the centre of Carcassonne. He was saved by a brave woman, Audrey, who subsequently adopted him via the SPA. So what punishment was meted out to this man? A 2 month suspended sentence, that is all he got, along with a 300 euro fine (which he is unlikely to ever pay), and a ban on owning animals for five years, which of course will not be controlled or enforced.

This is simply disgraceful and shows yet again why those of us who love animals must never give up, even when it appears that the justice system does nothing to help our cause. For French speakers amongst you, here is the article:

Hey ho, onward and upward!

Berny arrives – but what is he?