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The Heat Is On – Part One!

With temperatures already in the mid-twenties we thought that we would look at how to keep your dog safe and cool in two parts, in the home and in the car! Keeping your dog safe in the heat is crucial, so here are some ways to help your dog cool off in the heat of summer.

Remember that dogs cannot cool themselves by sweating like humans. They might sweat a small amount through their pads, but the main way a dog cools off is by panting. Unfortunately, panting is not enough when it is extremely hot and humid.

It is essential that you keep fresh, cool water available to your dog at all times. In hot weather, this is even more crucial. Make sure you keep the water dish in a shady location and change the water frequently. A doggy ice lolly made from chicken stock keeps the busy and cool!

Your dog might enjoy a little sunbathing, but she ultimately needs a cool, shady spot to relax. Prolonged sun exposure often leads to heat exhaustion. Sunscreen is available for dogs and useful for fair of thin coated dogs but the best thing is to make sure that there is shade available or keep them indoors.

If your dog loves water and you don’t have a pool then a large tub or kiddie pool (moulded plastic, not inflatable) might be a great addition to your garden. Many dogs enjoy playing and lounging in the cool water but try to keep the pool in a shady spot and change the water frequently. Lots of dogs appreciate a dip in the river or lake and I have to admit that I have often been very envious of my two when they plunge into the village lavoir at the end of a walk!

When its hot try to exercise early in the morning or in the evening when its coolest and be very careful of hot pavements or sand on the beach if you are out and about. Shorter but more frequent walks are best and carry a portable water bottle and bowl on walks.

My dogs prefer to lie on the tiles when it’s hot, however, a cooling dog bed can offer the comfort and softness of a typical dog bed with the coolness your dog craves. Cooling dog beds often use a gel-like material or simply water to keep the bed feeling cool. These beds are especially great for senior dogs as an alternative for hard floors. Another cheap trick is a covered frozen hot water bottle or a cool wet towel to lie on.

So, if you have tips on keeping your dogs cool, we would love to hear from you!

Fun in the sun

dog in paddling pool

 

Make some doggy lollys!

ice lolly

 

 

Another Fundraising Sunday!

Today the fundraisers were out in force at our Book and Cake sale at Club Canin in Carcassonne.  Logistics for this started weeks ago when posters were made, lists were written and notices placed in all of the online sites, so it was nice to see it all come together at last.

One of the most popular donations to the SPA is books and we had hundreds of both French and English books. Our cake stall was magnificent, once again thanks to Anna and other volunteers who had all been very busy. We had a super ‘guess the weight of the cake’ competition which was won by Lisa, one of our fosterers. The bric a brac stand was very popular as was the plant stall.  Jan was there with her fabulous painted tiles as was Belinda with her greeting cards.

The fundraising events are not only useful for raising monies but also for raising awareness of the SPA. They are also an excellent opportunity for people to come along and say hello, talk about their dogs or bring along their ex SPA dog to show us how well they are doing. We love seeing ex SPA dogs at these events and today we saw Rookie, Blanca, Amedeus, Doggy, Othello and Desi, on top of that my doggy also joined in the fun as Benedictes two!

The amount raised was a whopping 280 euros which was fantastic considering that we seem to have ended up with more books than we started with!

So once again a huge thank you to everyone who came along to help or donated, you can rest assured your donations will go a long way to help make life a little bit easier for the animals in our care!

Here are the ex SPA dogs who visited today:

Rookie!

rookie

 

Othello and Desi

Othello and desi

 

Tara

tara

Amedeus and Blanca

Amadeus blanca

Doggy

doggy

 

 

In Praise Of The Brown Mutt!

I am sure that you have all heard our stories about how difficult it is find adopters for our black dogs well today’s blog is all about the second most difficult category to adopt out and that is the nondescript brown mutt.

Like all refuges in France we lots of dogs of indiscriminate breed whom are usually some kind of shepherd cross and are brown or brown and black. These dogs seem to be invisible to most people as the walk around the kennels and are frequently passed over. This a real shame as we are inundated with happy ever after stories from owners who have adopted one from us, singing their praises!

There are so many advantages of a ‘ mixed breed dog’ and when you adopt one you certainly have a totally unique companion. You have the breed traits of at least two breeds and that certainly keeps things interesting. I have two mutts, one a Labrador x Collie and one a Labrador x Boxer.

Most veterinarians agree that mixed breed dogs are healthier, and live longer lives than purebred dogs. While breeders may disagree, it is no secret that specific breeds come with genetic medical problems–German Shepard Dogs are prone to hip dysplasia, and the number one killer of Great Danes is bloat. According to veterinarians, any genetic problems that a breed suffers from may not always to be handed down to it’s puppies when the genetic material from another breed of dog is introduced. This sounds very positive to me!

Two of our brown shepherd crosses left today!

First to leave was  Lisbon, one of our cutest and calmest brown mutts was adopted. The family came to the refuge last week and explained that they wanted a gentle,calm,young dog who wouldn’t chase their guinea pig who roamed free in their house. They had a look around the kennels and chose a few dogs but very sensibly asked our advice and accepted that these dogs would not be suitable to live with a loose, small furry pet. We then suggested Lisbon and brought him out. It was love at first sight and they were overwhelmed at his calm gentle nature. It was a done deal and today off he went to his forever family.

Next to leave was Tayson. This is fantastic news for this gentle giant as this is his third stay at the refuge. Lets hope that its forth time lucky and we only see him again if he comes to visit!

Lisbon – Looking Very Proud Of Himself!

Lisbon

 Tayson – A Home At Last

Tayson

Diesel – Still Waiting

Diesel

Hoch – Still waiting! 

Hoch

 

Itchy and Scratchy!

We are fast approaching the season in France where the vets are inundated with scratching pets who inevitably have fleas or an allergy to flea bites so tonight I thought that I would relate my horrific experience which will ensure that everyone who reads it certainly wont forget to treat their dogs or cats!

Ticks and fleas are the most common ectoparasities in dogs and cats and fleas will happily jump from one host to another. The life of a flea is fascinating and one that I now know all about!

Last year, my dogs were treated monthly with advantix and I never thought much about fleas. In May five, three week old kittens  arrived at the SPA and I was delighted to offer my services as a foster mum. When they arrived we flea treated and then again four weeks later. It was holiday time and my neighbour who has several cats asked me to feed them whilst she was away. This was no problem but I did notice that I was bitten quite badly each time I did this so did suspect they had fleas.

Soon it was July, and very hot and humid when another two dogs came to the house, both were travelling with me to the UK in August so,animal wise we had a full house! Right up until we left, none of the animals were scratching, nor was I bitten in my house and we shut up the house and off set for the UK.

A week later a builder who was going into the house to do some work called to say there were fleas everywhere, so much so that he couldn’t work! You can imagine my horror! I didnt really believe him so got our volunteer Rebecca to pop around and check and yes, there had been no exaggeration, there were in fact fleas everywhere!

Our priority was to get rid of the fleas and get the builder into work so we called out the French equivalent of Rentokil. It was August, when lots of companies are short staffed due to holidays so a same day call out was not cheap!  This was however very, very effective and after 48 hours the builder was back in and no fleas were apparent.

All the animals involved were vet treated for fleas, my car and also the builders van also had to be treated.  So how did this happen? We will never know. Maybe the kittens were so young that the treatment hadn’t been effective and fleas from when I was feeding the neighbours cats hitched a ride, maybe one of the extra doggy visitors had them or maybe shutting up the house when it was hot and humid didnt help, we will never know but one thing is sure, I still have nightmare about these fleas and am still paranoid that they reappear. Please, please treat your animals.

The choice of treatment applications is vast .You can buy various spot on treatments or tablets from you vet and there are flea and tick collars widely available as well as  shampoos and  pump action sprays. Most kill adult fleas and contain an insect – growth repellent which prevents any fleas from reproducing.  Sprays and flea bombs are available to treat the home too.

One thing is sure, prevention is much cheaper than paying the consequences of a full blown infestation and is certainly worth every penny!

DogScratchingFleas

 

Cat Flea – Yuk!

Cat flea

And now the REAL work begins

Over the past few weeks you will have seen plenty of photos of improvements that have been made at the refuge. Plants and trees have brightened up the refuge, as has all the painting. But that is far from being the end of our plans.

It has long been our dream to have some real building work done, and thanks to a number of factors, this has now started. We are increasing the size of the cathouse by a huge 90m2. That is bigger than some people’s houses and will make a huge difference to the lives of our animals.

We will have a second infirmary, so that the small one connected to the reception area can be used for first aid, but really sick dogs and cats will have a proper well-equipped area just for them. There will be a special area for cats that are between their first and second vaccination (at present they stay in the quarantine area, as we do not want to place our other cats at risk). And there will also be an inside area for our older dogs, so that they don’t have to suffer the cold outside kennels in winter.

All this is wonderful news, and will make the refuge so much nicer. We are able to do it thanks to a couple of legacies that were left to the refuge; we do not usually have the kind of money floating around that is needed to do work of this type. Huge thanks also to Philippe, our vice president, who oversaw all the plans and delivered the papers to the maire to get planning permission and who is also overseeing the work as it progresses.

Exciting stuff, which until now has just been a dream.

At the refuge we had three dogs brought in, one of whom is identified, so we will see what that brings. It was a bright sunny day and Lots of dogs were out enjoying the sun, as we several volunteers, in between making plans for the Spring Fayre on Sunday! Don’t forget to come along and say hello!

New arrival – Michigan
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And big things are happening at the SPA

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Dog identification at work!

Today was busy at the refuge. Very busy, even. But the end result, despite all the comings and goings, was just one extra dog on the books. And even he might leave as he is identified in the name of the breeder, who will give us the new owner’s name tomorrow. Fingers crossed that the dog’s owner comes to collect him.

The other four (yes FOUR) arrivals were all identified so all left straight away. However all of this takes time; booking dogs in, searching on the central database, and contacting the owners. My heart sank when I heard about the number of dogs in, and my immediate thought was “but we have just homed five dogs to the UK, will this never end”. And of course it will never end. But at least today was not just a question of filling up the spaces we have just made! That will happen in due course I am sure.

So what do we do when we have nothing to talk about? We show you photos of happy dogs, of course!

First up is Benson, who was homed just over a year ago to volunteers Rebecca and James (he of the recent dog- delivery fame). Look how handsome he is, and none the worse for his ordeal of having been left starving on a balcony!

Next up we have Harlequin, homed in the UK thanks to a border collie rescue organisation and who is now an agility champion.

Then we have recently adopted Luxor (now Luther), who is seen here together with Gwen.  They, are both in the UK with our great friends Anita and Phil.

Closer to home we have Sherman, adopted and adored, despite his age. Older dogs can be the best companions; they have the maturity to appreciate the second chance that life has given them. Thanks so much to Elodie for sending us photos so regularly. It really keeps us going on the bad days.

Finally we have recently adopted Oscar, now Gryphon, who is turning out to be the perfect pet.

Happy news today, despite there having been no adoptions!

Please don’t forget this Sunday’s Spring Fayre to benefit the SPA. It is taking place at the Club Canin Carcassonne from 10am-4pm and will be an excellent day out. Here is the cake which you can win just by guessing its weight! Thanks to Anna, yet agai

Benson
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Harlequin

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Luther (ex Luxor) with Gwen

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Sherman. I think he knows he is loved, don’t you?

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Oscar (now Gryphon)

Gryphon-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Anna’s cake. Guess the weight!

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Catch up on news…..

After all the excitement of yesterday, I thought I would let you know what else has been going on at the refuge.

The old beagle who arrived on was reclaimed. This is excellent news. We had not given up hope of finding her owners, as we have a wonderful network of helpers who were about to launch into action, but it is even better that her owners were looking for Vicky (or Lily, as she is called in real life). Some of you may know that I have an old beagle called Lily myself, adopted from the SPA when she was about ten years old and supposedly “past her best”.  I have a very soft spot for the breed, so I am delighted for Lili. Especially as she too is 10 years old

The owners were not happy when they came to collect her, as in their opinion we should have contacted them. We pointed out that the details on the database that corresponded to the tattoo were out of date, but they were upset that we had not called the phone number that was “clearly marked on her collar”. Except it wasn’t. There was nothing on her collar at all.

It is very important to keep your details up to date at the central database. Otherwise it takes a bit longer for us to contact you, assuming we are able to track you down that is! It is a good idea to put an engraved medal on your dog’s collar with your phone number on it, rather than just using a marker pen as in this case. Or if you do use marker pen, make sure it is indelible! This is also the case if you know that your dog’s tattoo is a bit hard to read, due to age.

Today we had three new arrivals. One of them was identified and hence was collected immediately, but the other two are not identified and so are still with us. First a tiny wee girl who was found at the gate; she is about the size of a papillon and hopefully someone is looking for her. She is not in the first flush of youth.

Second was another little girl, this one found in the local village or Cuxac Cabardes. Information on both will be available soon, after they have been to see the vet.

I am sure that like me many of you were wondering how James got on with the dogs who left yesterday. Moira and James have been in touch, and all is going well. So once again thanks to everyone for this heroic effort, especially Moira and James. And yes, of course we will pass on news of the dogs as each of them is homed.

Here is the link to the database, where you can change your dog’s details if they are not up to date (thanks for the suggestion, Helene)

Lili- RECLAIMED
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New arrival – Vixen

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Arrival number two – Beauty

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Five More Leave For The UK!

Last week Darcey mentioned in her blog that I was on my way back to France and that I was visiting rescue organisations enroute. I have to say that I loved every minute of these visits and was very, very impressed with both the welcome I received and the rescues themselves.

Rescues can be very stressful places for the animals that find themselves there, for the staff, the volunteers and indeed for visitors. A bit like buying a house, your initial impressions go a long way but when you are met with a smile and a ‘how nice to meet you’ it helps a lot!

When we enter into negotiations with other rescues its initially by email or by phone but the UK rescue world is very small and as well as doing our own research we ask others for their opinions and recommendations. This means that we know that the associations have similar policies to ours and that our dogs are in very safe hands.  Saying that, nothing is better than meeting the staff first hand and seeing the facilities for yourself and thus the purpose of my visits.

So..who are the lucky five dogs who have left? Ako, Babette, Bond, Heart and Woody!

Heart and Ako are border collies and are young, active, very clever dogs who need much more mental and physical stimulation than we can possibly give them. They are off to a specialist border collie association where they will be assessed, trained and placed with a loving family.

Bond and Babette are probably ex hunters who have been rejected, most likely as they were not good hunters. This is no suprise as they are both really loving, affectionate and will make superb family pets. They are going together to a rescue who is very used to both ex-breeding and ex-hunters and who have a fantastic network of foster homes. They will initially go into the rescue to be assessed and we are confident that they will be in the perfect family very quickly!

Woody is a pointer cross who was eventually caught and brought into the SPA after Carole saw him wandering in the village where she lived. He was extremely scared and thin when he arrived but flourished quickly and now he has the chance to go to an association, specialising in pointers who can help him along the way to his forever home.

So today the paperwork was checked, extra feeds given, dogs were walked, bowls, food, towels, blankets etc were packed and all five left with our superb volunteer James, who is driving them to the UK towards their new life. It takes a very special person to offer do do this, so a massive thank you to James and to his partner Rebecca, we know that they are in very safe hands and we wish everyone a very safe journey!

The lucky five:

Ako

Ako

 

Babette

Babette

Bond

Bond

 

Heart

Heart

 

Woody

Woody

 

And They Are Off!!!

Five

 

Black dogs, gold hearts

Yesterday’s blog got many reactions, as you can imagine, mostly from people just expressing their approval on Facebook, with a “like”. My favourite comment came from our stalwart supporter, Michele, adopter of scruffy mutt, Pitchou. She wrote to say that yesterday’s adoptions were the work of Chaussette, who was looking down on us in our sadness and wanted to show us that we should never ever give up the fight.

Other people asked about the whole black dog syndrome. We have many black dogs in the refuge, overlooked because of their colour. And tonight’s blog is dedicated to them.

It may seem strange to many people who have black dogs (like both Moira and I), but there really is a prejudice against dogs of this colour. It used to be considered that they brought bad luck, “son and daughter of the devil” etc. But even though most people know rationally that this is nonsense, black dogs remain hard to home. Is it because there is nothing to distinguish them from the pack? In fact I find nothing more wonderful to look at than the coat of a glossy black labrador. The refuge is perhaps not the best place for this, as dogs can look scruffy, lacking the regular brushing and exercise of family pets, but give them a week or so in a home environment, and they will look just amazing.

Here is a lovely poem written by a lady called Ginny Hewitt, who obviously is a big fan of the black dog. This poem can be found on the website of a British association called Many Tears, and Moira will tell you more about them tomorrow, when we will have some very exciting news to share.

Black Dogs, Gold Hearts

To some the black dog means bad luck, to some it means depression,

To some black equals boring , lacking style or expression.

But colour has no meaning , it’s just fashion or a fad,

It can’t show love or loyalty, it can’t be good or bad.

My last three dogs have worn black coats, abandoned and alone,

But I didn’t see their colour when I offered them a home.

I saw their personalities, the sadness in their eyes,

Saw their hope, their loving hearts, and could not pass them by.

I’ll never understand those folk who look above the skin,

When anyone who’s owned a dog knows beauty lies within.

So don’t be swayed by colour, see instead their hearts of gold,

And spare a thought for all black dogs left waiting in the cold.

Atlas. At the refuge since November 2013, but this is his second stay. He was found wandering and his owners never came to collect him. They told their son that he had run away. Atlas is 3 years old

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Balthazar. At the SPA since April 2013. He, too was identified when he arrived, but his owners never came for him. Bathazar is 7 years old.

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Chips. At the SPA since August 2012 having been found straying. Chips is 5 years old. He was just over three when he arrived.

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Occitane. This lovely fine-boned black lab cross has been at the SPA since August 2013; she is just 3 years old.

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They are not the only black dogs we have. Remember, Black is Beautiful!

Bumper day for Black dogs!

With everyone still reeling from the shock of Chaussette’s death yesterday, today would have to be pretty good to raise anything even approaching a smile from most of us.

Fortunately it was, and far better than we could have ever expected! We had not one, not two, not three, but , FOUR adoptions. And three of them were of black dogs. !

First to leave was little Hamtaro, but we knew he wouldn’t be with us for long.

The second adoption was a fabulous surprise, though. After 2 years, we finally said goodbye to Gun. This dog was adopted from us as a tiny puppy (anyone remember the Pirates of the Caribbean litter?). Gun was the first to be adopted, but he was abandoned when he was a year old. Woops, his owners forgot to train him!  Since this time Gun has been at the SPA, that is two thirds of his short life.

He has received regular walks, most notably from Benedicte, who perhaps knows him better than anyone. Outside of the refuge he is calm and obedient, affectionate and attentive. Quite unlike the huge dog who jumps around his box frantically.

His new owner, used to know Gun when he had a home and when he was left to wander alone. In fact they used to feed him from time to time. When they came to the SPA they didn’t even know he was with us. However when dog and man saw each other, there was instant recognition. What a lucky lucky dog!

Next to leave was Oscar. The couple had seen him on this website and were looking for a medium to large young dog to share their mountain home with them. Lucky Oscar caught their eye, and he is now living with plenty of land and long walks. He had only been at the refuge for a couple of weeks, so he is one of the lucky ones, despite being black!

The next departure of this amazing day was that of Toby, abandoned at the refuge 15 months ago and sponsored by volunteer Val, who luckily was there to say goodbye to him today. He has a new family and children to play with.  His life is about to take a whole new turn.

In the middle of all this, yesterday’s little yorkie was reclaimed by his owners and a non-identified black labrador arrived and left identified, as his owners were looking for him.

And although I don’t usually talk about reservations (being unwilling to tempt fate), Candy has found a new family already; this time one with no other dogs! It takes some time to get all the paperwork together, but at least Candy’s time with us looks like it will soon be over.

Happy happy day!

When I hinted yesterday about good news on the horizon, I did not expect this!!!

Hamtaro – ADOPTED

Hamtaro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gun – ADOPTED (after two long years)
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Oscar (now Gryphon) – ADOPTED

Oscar - labrador griffon cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toby – ADOPTED (after 15 months)

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