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Two fundraising successes!

There are two fundraising events taking place this weekend. By the time you read this, one and a half will be over, but I will tell you later how you can join in with the half that is happening tomorrow! And of course there is always next weekend, which is Christmas for the Animals at the SPA.

But let me start at the beginning. Last night was the long-awaited fundraiser in Puivert. Thanks to the vagaries of my GPS (not Sharon’s this time), we arrived a bit late, but directly into a fabulous concert given by the Puivert choir. A mixture of Christmas carols and standards, all beautifully sung. The festivities had officially begun!

After a break for mulled wine and mince pies, it was off again with the Old Spice Girls, who sang in both French and English and were wonderfully entertaining and talented.

There was a raffle and of course the silent auction and a couple of craft stores, as well as a display showing some of the many dogs and cats at the refuge. We hope that some adoptions may result, but the goal of the evening was to raise funds for the SPA and Twilight, and the raffle alone gained 330 euros!

I must say enormous thanks to the organising team. As usual I am afraid to leave someone out, but I have to mention Deb and Belinda who are probably both having a quiet night in! I don’t know the final fundraising total yet, as the silent auction bids still have to be added up, but I will let you know as soon as possible.

The today the SPA has been at the Cite where we have been taking part in “the Magic of Christmas” inside the theatre. We were kindly given a stand, thanks to Veronique and Val, and several other volunteers showed up with and without dogs to spread the word about the SPA and the importance of not buying puppies at Christmas without adequate time for reflection.

We will be at La Cite again tomorrow, so if you missed us today, please come and say hi. There are some lovely craft stalls where you can but gifts, but don’t forget to put a little something into the donation box for the SPA….We have presents for the dog or cat in your life as well!

At the refuge it was business as usual. Three more pups arrived yesterday, plus and adult who is identified but whose owners gave her away a year ago but can’t remember who to. I don’t have today’s news yet, but I want to post this blog so I can go and thaw out my feet, like the other girls who were at the Cite!

The Puivert Choir in action
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The Old Spice Girls
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Fundraising at La Cite
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Gifts for the dog or cat in your life!

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My lovely Nero, star of the show and photographed by many a Spanish tourist!

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Two sad good byes

Today has been one of the worst ever. I know I seem to be saying that a lot, and I mean it every time, but today was even worse.

Yesterday the vet informed us that Arnak, the lovely Rottweiler who arrived at the refuge recently had inoperable cancer. He was starting to suffer greatly as his lungs were filling up with fluid, and draining them would not resolve the problem for more than a couple of days. So this morning it was with great sadness that Carole and Melissa took him to the vet to comfort him in his last minutes.

This dog had essentially been abandoned by his owner and was a stray until being brought to the refuge. We were within our rights to refuse his entry as he came from a village that has refused to pay anything towards the SPA for the past 4 years, but their mayor took the dog to another village which does have an agreement with us. Oh hail the moral courage of our elected representatives.

As soon as we saw Arnak we all fell in love, as he lay on the floor to have his tummy tickled. And he was so happy to be in the warm after so long on the road. So despite our resolve to return him to the irresponsible maire in question, we took him in showed him what love is like. Sadly his time on earth was cut horribly short.

At the vets Carole and Melissa were given more bad news. On Tuesday when the refuge was open someone threw two puppies into the SPA exterior box (which is used by the police for emergencies when we are shut). We immediately realised that the dogs were ill, but despite rushing them to the vet straight away, the little boy died this morning of parvovirus. Of course the owners should have taken the dogs to the vet, but that would have involved paying. Much better to just throw them at the SPA, which is just a dustbin, in essence.

Once again I am at about rock bottom and not sure I can carry on.

I am just off to the fundraiser at Puivert, maybe I will be a bit cheerier when I return! It must be said that money is lovely, but no amount of money would have saved either of these two dogs, so what we can achieve will always be limited.

Tomorrow we will be at the Craft Fayre at the Cite, by the way. We were there last night for the opening ceremony and there are some amazing stalls. As far as the SPA is concerned, we will be showing some of our dogs, as well as selling our treat filled baubles and just generally trying to raise awareness about the plight of animals in this sad, cruel world of ours.

 Arnak – what a sad way to end his life. I curse his owners.
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This little lad never made it to the refuge officially. His owners dumped him when he needed them most. He died at the vets.

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Hope the weekend’s activities help to raise my spirits a bit.

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Kensit Steps Out…

Today wasn’t nearly as bright and sunny as Tuesday but despite this lots of volunteers turned up to walk the dogs. For Kensit, the last pup left from the litter of five who arrived at the refuge in September, it was a big day as it was her first ever walk. Our patient volunteer James carried her out of her kennel but poor Kensit was so terrified she just couldn’t move. Sometimes when a pup is afraid, walking it beside an older calmer dog gives it confidence and as soon as we introduced her to Catcus off she went. Outside the refuge, away from the noise and chaos she soon gained confidence and bounced about trying to entice Catcus to play and trying to grab her lead. Until recently Kensit had four sibling for company but  for the moment is all alone in her kennel, so if anyone fancies a beautiful German Shepherd cross, she is fully vaccinated and ready to go.

We look for the very best of homes for our pups and always advise people to think long and hard about the impact a lively pup will have on their life. You need time, patience and understanding to have a pup in your household so if you are very house proud or not willing to put in lots of time and effort training the pup  perhaps one of our older, calmer dogs would be best for you.

We also had two fantastic adoptions. First to leave was Impact our lovely two month old border collie cross. What a handsome boy he is going to be and its fantastic to think that he will have a warm loving family before  Christmas. Being the dog of the week last week certainly paid off and tonight he will be having fun with a wonderful new family.

Next to leave was Chouquette, a six year old Shitzu who hasn’t had to spend long at the refuge at all. This is great news for her but I feel so sorry for our ‘long timers’ who have been waiting over two years. For some of these dogs this is more than half of their lives and a refuge is no place to grow up!

Please, please think of these dogs should you be considering adding a new doggy to your household.

Kensit steps out.

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Impact looking happy to be leaving.

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Last but not least to leave was Chouquette.

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Mighty Twilight dog delivery!

Today was the day of the long-awaited co-voiturage of three of our dogs, and all went smoothly, I am pleased to say. Things did not get off to an auspicious start, however, as the council were doing some tree pruning in my road and so I nearly didn’t leave home at all. Luckily my neighbour is a doctor and she pleaded our cause, saying that we both had lives to save today! I like her a LOT!

Val, who had been fostering Iola, and Debbie and Rob who had been looking after Jasper (ex Gafarot) showed up in good time at the SPA, and final hugs were given as they said good bye to their charges. I felt particularly sorry for Debbie who was very upset, but she and Rob have done an amazing job with Jasper and although it is always hard to say goodbye, you should be proud of what you have achieved with this little chap.

I then met my co-pilot, Sharon and we went up to Toulouse to collect Coraline from her foster home with Lorena. Then it was up to Cahors, where we handed all three dogs over to Terry and Debbie two fabulous volunteers from Twilight. They had arranged meeting points with Iola and Jasper’s new owners before taking Coraline to Twilight.

I am sure I will have news of them pretty soon, but for now I want to thank everyone for their various roles; especially Sharon whose GPS was the cause of much confusion, but whose sandwiches meant that all was immediately forgiven! Thanks to the three foster families, whose job is in many ways the hardest of all, and a huge thank you to Twilight for taking Coraline and for agreeing to take the two non-Twilighters further north. Terry and Debbie are real stars, as of course are Leeanne and Mike.

The families for both Iola and Jasper were found thanks to Doglinks, so thanks to them, too, as ever!

Here is a wonderful video which shows you a bit about Twilight. Friday’s fundraiser in Puivert is to benefit both the SPA and Twilight, so please come along and support them and us too!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B57okBTsJ1I&feature=share

There were four arrivals at the SPA, however, so today’s good news has been instantly negated. I am going to try to forget that and be happy for the three dogs who are in the warmth of their new families’ homes tonight.

Val says goodbye to Iola
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Handsome Jasper
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Curious Coraline

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The moment of handover, with Debbie, Terry and Sharon.
Thanks to you all

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The Big Chill…

It was great to be back at the refuge today, especially as it wasn’t too cold and was bright and sunny. As the temperatures plummet we all know to put on a cosy jacket, hat and gloves before we venture out but what about our dogs? How do we know if our dogs are cold and how can we make sure they are comfy on their walks on even the coldest day?

Well all dogs are different, long haired and short coated dogs, young and older dogs will have different tolerance levels to the cold weather. Some dogs have double coats to help them keep warm but don’t think that because your dog has a coat he will not feel the cold. Some breeds are closer to the ground and their bellies become wet and cold quickly when out, this can cause a dog’s temperature to plummet.

Dogs feeling cold also show it in different ways but some of the most common are a hunched stance, tail between the legs, shivering, whining, and lethargy.

To ensure our furry friends are nice and cosy, provide a warm dry bed which is in an area free from drafts. Remember that certain floor surfaces such as tiles, become very cold so make sure your dog is not left sleeping on a cold surface as he has nowhere else to go. Dog coats or dog sweaters are great for when your dog ventures outside even if just out into the garden and can be worn inside as well-depending on your dog and how cold it gets where you live. These are particularly great for dogs without adequate protection of their own such as lean, small or older dogs.

Please remember that the salty grit placed on pavements can irritate your dog’s paws and if it contains chemicals can be toxic should your dog lick their paws. Keep a bowl of water and a towel ready at the door to give their paws a wash when you get back from a walk.

Keep an eye on how long your dog is outside and don’t forget your dog is out in the garden if you have closed the door. When your dogs are outside don’t forget to put any antifreeze or screen wash well out of the dogs reach. Anti-freeze, screen wash and some types of de-icers contain ethylene glycol which is poisonous to dogs. The scary thing about antifreeze is that it is very sweet which makes it very attractive to many dogs.  Even a small amount can be fatal so seek immediate veterinary advice if you suspect that your dog has swallowed or come into contact with any.

One more of our dogs found their owners thanks to the fact it was identified so that’s one less who will be in a cold kennel. Dogs don’t like being cold any more than we do so wrap them up well and keep them cosy!

Keep you dogs cosy!

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The gifts and kennels keep arriving; unfortunately so do the dogs!

It is perhaps not coincidence that we always have dogs brought in to the SPA the day after every open day. People just assume that we will have lots of room thanks to all the adoptions. Well, guess what? Those days are long gone.

Yesterday one dog was adopted and today three arrived. I am no mathematical genius, but even I can work out what is happening. There are more and more dog at the refuge. Some of the older ones are surely destined to die there of old age. And at this rate the same is probably true of those who are young at present, but whose turn just never seems to come. And with people failing to sterilise their animals and giving away puppies on the internet and others encouraging them to do so, with the promise that they will home their unwanted puppies, things will only get worse.

Volunteering (and indeed working) in a dog refuge has got to be one of the most masochistic past times on the planet. The strain of trying to look on the bright side and carry on doing our best to find homes for our animals when every step we take is negated by other people’s actions is soul-destroying. My mum used to say that it is like banging your head against a brick wall; it feels nice when you stop. But of course stopping is not that easy, when lives literally depend on us.

Animal lovers show solidarity, of course, and today two new kennels were delivered, as well as packages of Christmas goodies for the dogs and cats. Thank you so much to the generous people who do their best to brighten the lives of our animals and keep them warm. Tonight as I see my four dogs curled up in their baskets I want to weep for the dogs at the refuge, many of whom will probably never know this comfort again.

New arrival – Bubble
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New arrival – Mabrouk
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Ugo and Uta- Abandoned at age 8, in the SPA for over 2 years and probably destined to die there.

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Inuit adopts a family

Well, as many of you know, today, it being the first Sunday of the month, the SPA was open. And despite it not being our official Christmas for the Animals (which is the weekend of 14th and 15th December), it did feel a bit Christmassy today.

There were gifts aplenty for both dogs and cats. Thank you all so much! Beds, blankets, treats, and food arrived throughout the afternoon, and so many dogs were walked that my camera was kept constantly busy. And the treats were not just destined for the animals, Jane brought along some flapjacks, which proved very popular with volunteers and visitors alike, despite initial worries that they would not taste good as they looked a bit “healthy”. We Brits know better!

Thank you to everyone who came along to support us today.

We had one reservation but more importantly an adoption. Inuit has been courting his eventual adopters for several weeks, and finally today he gave them no choice but to take him home! When he saw them approaching his kennel he howled (well, he is part husky!) and as ever, he was immaculately behaved on his walk. They decided to reserve him and left the refuge only to reappear five minutes later with the words “Why the heck not take him today”.

So that is one more in the warm. None of us can take credit for this adoption; Inuit did all the work himself!

The volunteers made more plans for the Noel des Animaux in two weeks’ time, and we will also be present at the Magie de Noel at the Cite next weekend. Feel free to come and say hi to us and some of our dogs outside the theatre on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons!

Rookie came to see us. He is 13 and a half and his mum makes great flapjacks!

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Inuit leaves with the family he adopted!

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Arrivals, departures and visits!.

Firstly and as expected, Dylan was brought back to the refuge. On his contract of abandonment the couple stated that this puppy is affectionate and playful, but that he is TOO playful with their other dog and they have old cats. It then says “We were told that he is house-trained, but he is not!. Hmmm. Bit annoying. For one thing Lisa would never have said this, as she knows he is a young pup who still has “accidents”,  but also when you think of the recent disruption in this dog’s life, it is understandable that he should not be clean straight away. Still, he didn’t seem unhappy to be back with Lisa and Andrew, and we will make sure Dylan gets the prefect home next time.

Three other dogs were brought in; one a rough haired teckel, and two dogs from Limoux, a nearby village which is becoming the bain of our life, for reasons I won’t go into. So that is the bad news over.

In terms of good news, we had two adoptions and one dog made a guest appearance of about five minutes. He has been notified as being missing earlier in the day and was already micro-chipped, so the two volunteers who had found him and brought him in just took him straight back to his owners. Lucky Moka!

The two dogs who left us were Magix, who had only just completed his 10 days legal delay, and lovely Fripon, who was abandoned exactly a week ago. So two new arrivals have left. It is a shame for the dogs who have been waiting hopefully for so long, but as I said to the family who took Fripon, you need to take the dog that is right for you, and not adopt a dog out of pity.

We also had visits from two ex SPA dogs, Megan who has recently been adopted by her foster family, Veronique (our Tweeter!) and Andrew, and Titou, who was adopted 18 months ago by long term supporter Yvette.

And don’t forget that tomorrow is the first Sunday of the month, so the refuge will be open! Why not come and see us!

Dylan- pleased to be back, but needs a GOOD home
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Magix -Adopted

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Fripon -Adopted
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Megan visits

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So does Titou

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And Moka pops in and is delivered home thanks to his micro-chip

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Happiness and frustration…..

Today has brought both happiness and frustration, as is often the case at the SPA. Happiness came in the form of the adoption of Guizma, or “Little Miss Big Ears” as I like to call her for reasons unknown (?). Great news for this puppy who was found and brought in earlier this month. Another one in the warm.

Snoopy, a lovely but aging setter was reclaimed, which was a relief, as at nearly 13, he would have been the oldest dog at the SPA.

We also received some lovely photos of Badens, who thanks to Orphee, has found his forever home after having waited so long at the SPA. Amazing what a foster family can do, isn’t it? They can assess a dog’s character and make sure he goes to the right home, and can warn the future owners of any problem areas.

Ironically today’s main frustration has come from a fostering situation. Remember little Dylan who was adopted one week ago today, having spent 3 months with vet nurse Lisa? Well, his new owners are claiming that they were “badly advised” in taking him. Lisa is devastated. Dylan was living with her dogs and cats just fine, and of course in a new environment there are bound to be a few teething troubles. One week is an unreasonable time frame to allow a dog to settle, but unfortunately Dylan’s adopters are unwilling to take any advice as to how to overcome the issues, which are actually relatively minor.

Worst still, Lisa is wondering if she will ever be able to foster again, as, like me, she found this couple very likeable. She wonders now if she can trust her own judgement.

I think the message here is that if you have a perfect existence and are not prepared for anything that may upset it in any way, please don’t adopt a puppy. Or any dog, in fact. Dogs (and indeed cats) are living creatures who should not be cast off on a whim. Sensible, considered choices need to be made, and this is especially the case around this time of year, when children may be demanding puppies and kittens for Christmas.

We are trying to find a home for Dylan urgently, so please get in touch if you can help. He is currently in Pau. We do not like to think of him being with a family who does not love him, after being loved so much by Lisa and Andrew.

Little Miss Big Ears – Adopted!
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12 year old Snoopy- Reclaimed

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Badens’ new life begins properly! Thanks to Association Orphee!

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Poor Dylan- rejected after one week.

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Matit is adopted, Igloo arrives and kennels are installed.

Maybe some of you will have seen the photograph on the Facebook page last night, of the new kennels all lined up. These were bought thanks to your donations, and in fact the two XXL kennels arrived thanks to Deborah, a generous supporter who adopted a dog from us way back in the “bad old days”. Thanks so much to you all.

Today we put the kennels into the enclosures and although I was unable to take a photo of a dog inside one (he was too busy trying to give me licks), you can see how much difference these will make. Compare the lovely kennel to the plastic basket, which is still the only protection for many of our dogs. More are needed so if you would like to help out, please get in touch!

Another motivating site was that of the newly erected Xmas tree, which is gradually filling up with bauble-filled treats for our dogs and cats. Carole and Isabelle amongst others have been working hard, and our aim in to have a bauble for every single animal at the SPA. Again please get in touch for more information on how to get yours. And yes, you can buy them for your own animals, of course!

We were joined by a new volunteer today, which is always good. However to misquote George Orwell, all volunteers are equal, but some are more equal than others. Rosa is a real catch. She is a passionate dog lover who has volunteered in refuges all over the world and, better still, is completely bilingual, having been brought up in France with English parents. The only downside is that she lives in Toulouse so will “only” be able to join us once a week. Are you asking the obvious question (as I did), why doesn’t Rosa volunteer at the SPA Toulouse? Well, she did contact them, but they said they had too many volunteers already, so no thanks. Their loss is our gain. I can feel some guest blogs coming on!

In refuge news, two dogs arrived; Snoopy, an English setter who is identified, and a dog found in Quillan who is not. We have called him Igloo and he is young and beautiful and despite his name, I hope he is the warmth of someone’s home soon. If his owner fails to collect him, that is.

Lucky puppy Matit was adopted, leaving just one of the Egyptian puppies, Khensit, behind. There are still lots of pups of all shapes and sizes still waiting for their homes, of course, including the two 2-month old beauceron crosses, Chuppa and Chups, who were brought in yesterday.

One of the new kennels in situ. Where would YOU prefer to sleep? 
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The small tree is filling up. We have a big one, too! Let’s fill them both!

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Matit is adopted

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And “Igloo” arrives.

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