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Latest News

Anita and Mick raise funds thanks to curry and cake!

On September 1st, Moira wrote about the Vide Greniers that took place that day and the work put in by our super volunteers to raise money for the refuge. Well, last night I went to a very different kind of fundraiser.

This was a curry night organised by Anita, who is a professional caterer (see her website http://www.lesdelicesdanita.com/ and her Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Les-Délices-dAnita/184120071703543), who lives in Rennes les Bains. There were some 30 people there, a mix of French and British, all tucking in to a traditional Indian meal! We had poppadoms to start, then onion bahjis and samosas, followed by 4 different curries with rice and nan bread. Dessert followed, and I was treated to a magnificent birthday cake, (Anita is often called “The Cake Lady” and now I know why!)

The evening raised €350, which is a magnificent sum and will be greatly appreciated by the animals at the refuge. Thanks so much Anita and Mick. I had a fabulous time, and it was lovely to see Castro, formerly Ray, the blind Bleu de Gascogne, who popped in to say hi, and also to chat to the owners of Millie (formerly Charolotte) who had been adopted from us in March.

The refuge was fairly calm today, apart from the arrival of a 9 year old Brittany spaniel, whom we have named Apache. He is really adorable, with freckles on his nose. I have a feeling he is going to be one of my favourites! Oh, and we had three new volunteers join our happy crew of dog walkers, so lots more dogs will get out for exercise and socialisation. Thanks girls!

No fewer than four dogs are packing their suitcases before leaving tomorrow, so don’t forget to see who the lucky ones are!

Happy Birthday to me!









Lovely Apache

Nureyev dances to freedom

Hi this is Darcey, back after what seems like an age, but of course I was keeping up with events from the other side of the Atlantic. Thanks to Moira for doing such an excellent job whilst holding the fort.

Today I went to the SPA for the first time in a couple of weeks and I was shocked at how the place has filled up in so short a time. Wednesday is not usually a refuge day for me, but I was accompanying a couple who are thinking of adopting one of our dogs and are now deciding whether or not to take the plunge. Fingers crossed. I won’t tell you who the lucky dog is until the departure date, and as it is a UK adoption, there is the 3 weeks rabies time to wait….watch this space, as they say!

I arrived just too late to witness the departure of Nureyev, and it was a real shame as I would have loved to have seen this little boy one last time and given him a final cuddle. He arrived seven months ago and has watched several of his kennel mates find new homes. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Then finally he caught the eye of a family who were looking for a companion for their dog. Nureyev gets on with everyone, and is small and discreet, so we just knew that it would work.

I saw one new dog arrive, and although he is chipped, I fear the worst for him, as despite being just 7 years old and small (he is a shih-tzu), Basile is showing signs of an eye infection. This may well be curable, but if his former owners are not willing to pay for him to be treated, then perhaps he is better off finding a new home! For the moment we are searching for his owners, but I am not optimistic. I know this breed is very popular, so if Basile is your kind of dog, please get in touch. He can be reserved pending confirmation from La Poste that his owners have been informed of his whereabouts.

Nureyev leaves after 8 long months.







And Basile arrives



Pet Peeves..

Well not much has happened at the refuge today so I thought that I would discuss things that annoy us about other dog owners. We all have our little peeves with other doggie owners so here are some of mine and please feel free to comment with yours. This could be quite interesting!

I suppose what angers me the most is people who don’t pick up after their dog. Not only is it unsightly but toxocariasis from dog poo can cause partial blindness in children and I am sure no one would want to be responsible for that! Not much better are the owners who allow their male dogs to lift their legs on your house walls. Boys will be boys and all that but please take them to a suitable area to toilet!

Next on the list has to be owners who let their off leash dogs run up to my dogs. Now don’t get me wrong, my dogs spend 90% of their walk time off leash but they are under control. I really hate when I see a dog bounding towards mine, not because I don’t want my dogs to socialise with others but because one of my dogs is a rescue who was never properly socialised and who I have spent years training so she can be around other dogs. This means that she needs careful introductions to others and needs space and time to get to know another dog. Letting your uncontrolled youngster bound into my dogs space simply undoes all that training so please bear in mind that not all dogs want to speak to your dog even if he is friendly! Now we all know that pups and youngsters that are learning sometimes just get it wrong and if the owner is trying to get their dog back I don’t mind as much as when they are ignoring their dogs cheeky behaviour or are on their mobile phone pretending not to notice, leaving me to cope with a potential dog fight!

Extending leads have their place and can be great but we have all seen people with dogs at the end of the leash on the pavement near traffic. When using the leash like this you have no directional control so if your dog takes off into the middle of the road they are not only risking their lives but risk causing an accident too!

Then there are the owners who don’t sterilise their dogs and allow then to roam but last and not least are owners who see their dogs as things, to be given away or abandoned when the pet becomes too inconvenient for them and we certainly meet lots of these owners at the SPA every day!

So come on, tell us what really annoys you about other pet owners, we might all learn something from these posts!

Dog poo2




Sterilise Your Dogs…Please!

In light of today’s news, the arrival of three more pups, I thought that we would deal with the benefits of sterilising your dogs!

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

Sterilising 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 and as well as looking unsightly this spreads disease. 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 f 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 is widely believed to 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 sterilise their pets?

Some say it’s the cost but here are some of the  myths about sterilisation:

  • All female dogs should be allowed to have one litter before sterilization.There are absolutely no health benefits by allowing this at all.  False, the only thing allowing a bitch to have one session may accomplish, is the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy!
  • It will change their personality. Dog owners tend to anthropomorphic 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 or playful instincts.
  • Sterilization will make my dog fat. False. Sterilization will not make your dog fat – too much food and not enough exercise will make your dog fat!
  • My dog will get lazy. False, whether a dog is lazy or not depends entirely on its temperament and personality.
  • 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.
  • My dog is a male! – This comment normally comes from men! In addition to the benefits listed below, 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 behaviour – you are stopping the dog from following its natural instinct – to propagate the breed.

So no more excuses, no more letting someone else take responsibility, all the refuges are full and we cannot cope, so please, please sterilise you dogs!

Todays Three New Arrivals!









A Fresh Start..

When you take home one of our SPA dogs many people are unsure what to expect or in fact where to begin and our advice would always be to regard him very much as you would a puppy – an animal that will require lots of supervision and training as well as love and attention.

Many of our SPA dogs have not had the best start in life and may not have had as much as basic training, some may have pre-existing behaviour issues so its best to be prepared and to be realistic. Of course lots of our dogs are no problem at all but this is something that you should never take for granted and please bear in mind that a lot of rescue dogs have problems because they are unwanted but many are unwanted because they have problems.  If you are realistic in what to expect you are immediately placing less pressure on both yourself and the dog and please remember we can advise you or any problems that pop up.

What most rescue dogs crave is some sort or order and security restored to their lives where previously there was none. They will of course thrive on love and attention but they will also need set routines, rules and guidance. Lots of new owners make the mistake of ‘over-loving’ the dog and are excessively lenient or indulgent with them but if you start as you mean to go on and you have a much greater chance of success.

As with a puppy you should confine the dog to a specific area where the floor is easiest to clean and then should he have any toileting problems they can be quickly cleaned up.  Exercise is generally a good stress buster as long as it is tailored to their age and fitness and most dogs will settle happily after a nice walk.  Its natural that all your family and friends will want to meet the new arrival but we do advise keeping interactions very low key until your dog settles down, remember the dog doesn’t really know who you are and excessive attention and fuss will certainly fuel problems such as excitability and separation anxiety.

Last night one of our elderly dogs left the refuge for his fresh start. Lovely Rudolf, now Andy was driven by one of our volunteers to meet a family who had agreed to adopt Andy even although he was 13 years old!  So Andy had a 5 hour journey but he’s home at last and we have already heard that he is settling down fine and enjoying home comforts – have a long and happy retirement Andy!

Happy Retirement Andy!


Tabou Toddles Off..

When Tabou (now Bertie ) arrived at the refuge we were all very surprised that he wasn’t identified. A very handsome English Springer Spaniel who was in good condition isn’t something we see often at the refuge! This boy had most certainly been a family pet, knew all his basic commands and didn’t pull on the lead. What’s more he was one of the calmest Springers I have ever met and just lay at my feet or toddled along bedside me.

A couple from the Limousin area spotted his photo online and having lost their own spaniel a few weeks ago felt that they would like to give Bertie a home. They made a very brave decision and reserved him without meeting him and traveled down to Carcassonne on Wednesday to meet him. This is a very brave thing to do as they were really reliant on our accuracy in describing Bertie and his temperament, but even so I breathed a sigh of relief when introductions went well and arrangements were made to pick him up this morning.

They have said that he will off groomer’s next week for a tidy up and then off to the vet to be castrated and also vaccinated against rabies for a pet passport. The DEFRA rule change regarding the rabies wait time from six months to three weeks has really helped the SPA and now more and more British families are adopting from us. The worming window has also changed from 24-48 hours to 24-60 hours and when transporting dogs from Carcassonne that is a big advantage!

So by now Bertie will be home, settling in with a loving family with a large enclosed garden and lots of time to give him the love and attention he deserves. If only all of our dogs could be so lucky!

Charlot also left having only been reserved after only 10 days at the refuge!  At just less than a year old this Berger Allemande cross was a handsome looking boy and with just as lovely a nature so its no great surprise that he was snapped up quickly.  This is of course great news for Charlot but I cant help feeling sorry for the dogs who have been with us a long long time!

 Tabou has left for the Limousin.



Charlot left too!



Puppy Love!

In light of yesterdays arrivals, I thought that today’s blog should look at the implications of adopting a pup. Yesterdays litter, named after cocktails, are ten week old collie crosses and are very cute! There are three boys and five girls who  as adults, will be medium sized dogs about 26kg so just smaller than the average Labrador.

There aren’t many of us who can resist going ‘awww’ when we see a puppy!  There really is nothing quite as adorable as a cute, cuddly pup full of life and love. The look from a puppy’s big, round eyes can melt any heart but if you adopt one of our puppies we would prefer that you are prepared for its arrival.

You will certainly need some basics such as a lead and collar, a bed or cage, bowls, toys and food.  We will tell you what your pup is being fed and if you are going to change this please do so gradually to avoid any tummy upsets.

Before the new pup arrives have a walk around your house and garden and make sure that it’s a safe place for a pup to come to. Lift all shoes, cushions and anything else you don’t want chewed and keep them out of reach. If you have young children move any toys that you don’t want chewed or that the pup could choke on. Lego bits are some pups favorite and a common cause of intestinal blockage so why not use a baby gate to restrict access to bedrooms etc where such dangers could be lurking! Your new pup wont be able to tell the difference between your new shoes and his chew toy so remove all temptation. Put all cleaning fluids, washing powder etc out of reach in the house and the garage. Please make sure that your garden is secure and enclosed or be prepared for constant supervision.

Once the pup is home, toilet training begins. Pups don’t understand that they cant just toilet anywhere they like so you need to take them outside every hour or so and give lots of praise when they get it right!  It may be a good idea to restrict the pups access to certain areas and keep it in an area with tiles so when accidents occur they are easily mopped up. I use baby gates for this but accidents are inevitable so be prepared with a mop and bucket and ignore any little mistakes. It will take a few weeks before your pup is reliably house trained.

Pups need lots of time and attention and straight away they need to learn what is right and what is wrong behavior. It is much easier teaching a pup to do something right in the first place than trying to correct an established behavior. Once the pup has had its second injections why not consider taking him along to one of the local doggy training classes. Here he will learn to socialize with other dogs and you will learn how to train your pup. Socialization is very important so you need to get your pup out and about meeting people and other animals. This is that part of having a pup I really enjoy as everyone wants to speak to you when you have a new pup. You will have lots of opportunities to teach the pup to sit, rather than leap all over everyone who wants to say hello to him. Its good to introduce him to other animals at this age so its great if he can meet the neighbors cat or rabbits if you don’t have any.

Its great fun having a pup, a lot of hard work but really worth every minute as you watch your pup mature into a well-balanced canine citizen! A trained dog is a happy dog!

Here are three out of the eight pups who arrived yesterday. They are cuties and we hope that they wont have long to wait for their forever families!

Gin Fizz

Gin Fizz







The Never Ending Story!

Well today started out really well. Despite the fact that Darcey and I are both travelling we managed to organize a superb reservation! I had also written tonight’s happy blog which was in draft, just ready to publish and our spirits were high when my messages bleeped and then bleeped again with really bad news!

Eight pups arrived at the refuge this afternoon! Yes eight pups of 10 weeks old who were left to roam loose in a local village! This is really devastating news and whoever is the owner of these pups should be hanging their head in shame! How on earth can we ever win this war when people just will not sterilise their dogs and then accept no responsibility for the pups? Do these irresponsible gits really want to condemn their animals to life behind refuge bars? No matter how hard we try, no matter how many hours we spend, and remember most of us are volunteers, can we make an a dent in the number of arrivals! To compound this news an eight year old German Shepherd also arrived so you can imagine how low moral is tonight among the staff and volunteers!

Just as well we did have one superb adoption!

Girly, a  three year old border collie was found loose and brought to the refuge a few weeks ago. A dainty, pretty girl she soon caught the attention of a family with four young boys and a two and a half year old border collie called Anouk. Experienced homes are what we want for our borders who are usually high energy intelligent dogs who need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. This family had already taken Anouk to dog classes and were eager to get it right with Girly. Last Wednesday afternoon the family drove 4 hours to come and meet Girly and with four boys under twelve and a dog, that is no mean feat! Introductions went well with both the children and Anouk and so after taking a night to reflect on their decision they decided to adopt Girly. We do actively encourage people to think about such a major decision, to consider how the dog will fit into their lifestyle, the new dogs training needs and the best way to integrate the dog into the whole family. If these logistics are carefully thought out then you really are setting the new addition up to succeed and that’s what we want of each and every one of our SPA dogs, a bright and happy future!

So today, one adoption, one reservation but nine arrivals, it truly is never ending!

Lucky Girly who left today.




Four Adoptions and Only One Arrival!

Out of our four adoptions today all dogs were found loose and none of them was actually identified.  When a dog arrives at the SPA and is micro chipped or tattooed we check the number to the French Data base and try to contact the owners.  Now you would think that the means that all identified dogs that arrive would be quickly reunited with their owners but not at all! Lots of people move and forget or don’t bother to update their details, sometimes the dog goes to a new owner and the change isn’t registered but sometimes people just ignore our calls as they don’t want their dog back! If your dog is chipped or tattooed please remember to change your contact details if you move house. If you have a pet with an UK chip and spend your time between here and the UK you can also register the microchip number on the French data base system. To do this just ask any vet for a form, it only costs 11 euros and is well worth it if it means you can be quickly reunited with your dog its lost.

My exciting news today is that ex chasse dog Éclair has finally found a home! He arrived at the SPA in January, just as the hunt season was ending. He wasn’t identified but had a lovely silver collar with his name engraved on it, so you would think that he had been a family pet but no one ever claimed him and its been a grueling hot summer for a dog who wants to run free but today was his lucky day and off he went with a lovely family.

Our cute pup Mabrouk was next to leave. He arrived at the SPA with his brothers and sisters when they were only 3 weeks old. We really didn’t know how they would do but with a lot of tender love and attention they all pulled through and have now all been adopted.

Jose also left today with a super couple who came to meet a couple of weeks ago. Unlike some of her kennel mates Jose has been lucky and has only had to wait a few weeks before finding a new family. In general small young dogs find homes much quicker that more mature large dogs who can sometimes be with us for a long time.

The next to leave was Trompette, a Montagne de Pyrenees cross. There has been a fair bit of interest in this lovely girl and no wonder, she is very pretty and that fact that she is going to be a very big girl hasn’t put anyone off. So off she skipped (yes, literally) with her pretty young owner, two very happy girls!

We also had a visit from a lovely English couple who reserved a dog online and drove 5 hours from the Limousine to visit him today before his departure on Friday. To find out who this lucky boy is remember to read Fridays blog!

Eclair leaves at last!


Cute Little Mabrouk


Trompette Skipped Off


Jose was last to leave!




Hot Cars Kill Dogs!

Yesterday we heard the very sad news about a dog who had died in a car whilst left in the parking beside La Cite, Carcassonne. This is devastating to hear and very upsetting as it really is avoidable!

Similar deaths occur every summer in nearly every country. It’s extremely upsetting for everyone when this type of event happens, and the suffering of the animals is terrible to contemplate.

It can be an easy mistake to make. If you think that you’re only going to be a few minutes, you may feel that it’s safe to leave your dog in a car, even on a warm day. The problem is that it’s far more dangerous to do this than most people realise. A car can heat up astonishingly rapidly, with some vehicles reaching 40°C in just twenty minutes. Dogs cannot sweat: they can only lose heat by panting, and if the ambient temperature around them is high, this means that they cannot lose any heat at all. They’ll pant furiously, but will just get hotter and hotter until they collapse. It’s a dreadful way for an animal to die, and that’s one of the reasons why there’s such an outcry whenever an incident like this is reported in the news.

On a sunny day, leaving a dog in a car is as dangerous as putting the animal into an oven and turning it on “roast”. It’s not enough to leave a window open, or to leave some water inside for the dog. It just gets too hot inside the confined space of a car. Dogs cannot be left in cars on sunny days: end of story.

This message has recently been the focus of a ‘Don’t Cook your Dogs’ campaign by Dogs Today magazine. The aim is to highlight the issue as widely as possible, to prevent more unfortunate dogs from dying. Ignorance of the risk is a common excuse, and the campaign aims to ensure that nobody in any country remains ignorant about it.

So what should you do if you see a dog locked in a hot  car? This is what I would do but its only my opinion. If the car was outside a store I would ask for an announcement to be made asking the car owner to return to the car, if the owner doesn’t appear I would call the police, but if the dog was really distressed I would take a photo or video with my phone, and break a window to get the dog out. Now common sense prevails here, but its better having to replace a window than having a dead dog!

In these last few weeks of the summer, let’s try to avoid any more hot dog crises. Please do not risk leaving your dog in the car at all, leave them at home in the cool!

Below is a table of how quickly the temperatures rise..

Hot Dog