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Comings and Goings- Typical Monday!

Two dogs left the SPA today but sadly there were two arrivals. However, as Mondays go, it was pretty good!

The two departures were those of Atomic and Denali, who have left together with a couple who had been waiting for a female border collie. Their desire for some canine company finally got the better of them, and so they decided on a compromise. Rather than a female border collie, they adopted a female AND a border collie! My kind of people!

Both dogs were reserved last week and since this time they have been sharing a kennel (Denali having been sterilised, of course), so we know the dogs get on well together. I am sure they will be delighted to have their freedom. Good luck to both of them!

In a bizarre twist of fate, we do now have a female border, Milana, who arrived at closing time on Saturday having been found on the motorway. Perhaps she is just lost, but in any case, she is so pretty and sociable that I am confident that she will find a home soon. Perhaps today’s lovely couple will take a third dog, you never know!

There were a couple of other reservations too, but you will have to wait to see who are the lucky ones. Let’s hope things are picking up and that more dogs find their forever homes before winter arrives!

Also a date for your diary. Or even for your memory, as there is not long to wait! This Sunday, the 27th, the Club Canin Carcassonne (Route de Bram) is having an open day. The SPA has a partnership with the Club, and our adopters are offered two free training classes at this excellent dog training school, with most people staying for much longer. On Sunday you can see what the Club has to offer you and your dog, there will be demonstrations of agility training, obedience, education and of course there is the ever-popular puppy school.

The event starts at 10H00 and goes on until 18H00. There will be a couple of SPA dogs there too, naturally!

Denali leaves…..







Together with Atomic











And Milana has just arrived- let’s hope someone is looking for her.


Why so many pictures?

It was only today when I was uploading to Facebook the almost 180 photos taken yesterday that I realised the extent of the walking that was done. An incredible number of dogs were exercised, and in fact I did not even manage to take photos of all them, as at times the refuge was a bit like Piccadilly Circus at rush hour!

The reason taking photos of the dogs is important is three-fold. Firstly for new arrivals it can alert their owners to the fact that their dog is at the SPA. This applies to unidentified animals only, of course, as otherwise we contact the owners immediately, providing of course that their details are up to date in Paris.

Secondly once the photos are added to Facebook it moves the dog’s album to the top again and new fans of our Facebook page may see a dog that they have not noticed before.

Thirdly (and to be honest, my favourite reason), is that we can follow the progress of a dog. We try to take photos of dogs on the day they arrive (see reason one). Often the dogs are in an appalling condition, and the photos that are subsequently taken show the dog’s gradual recovery.

There are numerous examples of this, with perhaps the best and most recent being that of Tootsie. She arrived in a terrible state, skeletally thin and clearly having lost the will to live. Now she is if anything a little bit chunky and is a beautiful glossy girl.

Sadly last week she had what appeared to be an epileptic fit, and so for the moment she is under surveillance. It generally takes a couple of weeks for the dosage of medication to be correctly assessed, but once this is done, Tootsie will have a tablet or two to take each day. Otherwise she will lead a perfectly normal life. Epilepsy in dogs is hardly a handicap, and with treatment being so inexpensive, we hope that this girl’s chance of finding a home will not be diminished by her illness.

So today I thank Team Sport once again (which incidentally consisted of both men and women!), and all the other volunteers who walked (or ran) the dogs yesterday. I also put out an appeal for a home for lovely Tootsie (who is fine with other dogs and cats), and I also wonder if anyone fancies coming along with a camera and taking snaps of the dogs. As I said, many more dogs were walked than I was able to take photos of, and it is a shame that their albums have no new pictures in them!

If this is something that you might like to do, even if it is only occasionally, please get in touch. We can provide a chair, and even a camera if required!

Tootsie when she arrived on June 27th









Tootsie now. What a transformation!


Team Sport bursts into Action!

Well, today wasn’t great in terms of adoptions, but in terms of dog walks it was probably one of our best days ever!

Ronan, our soldier/ volunteer, has returned from his deployment. We were delighted to see him, as were the dogs! Especially as he brought three friends with him, and “Team Sport”, as it became known, burst into action!

Team Sport took many of the dogs running! Going out in teams of four, even dogs who are not usually good with others had no time to think about even growling as they raced round the circuit. I watched from a distance befitting my age and lack of energy; but there seemed to be no stopping these guys! I know lots of dogs who are going to sleep well tonight. And maybe a few volunteers too. I was exhausted just watching them!

Of course there were many other volunteers walking dogs at a more leisurely pace and of course not all our dogs are up to running with Team Sport in any case! Thanks to everyone who came along; I think about half of the SPA dogs got out for some much appreciated exercise! I have 179 photos to add to the Facebook albums, which will keep me out of trouble tomorrow!

Three puppies left, one from the Egyptian Deities litter, Osiris, and the two magic sisters, Hocus and Pocus. Three dogs arrived, though, two as “pre-booked” abandons and a third found on the motorway. So we  have the same number of dogs as before. In addition many of us spent time today trying to catch a small white jack-russell type, whose owner had clearly dumped near the refuge in the hope that he would walk through the gates on his own. He didn’t and is wandering terrified in the fields around Berriac. The least you could do is tie him up so he can be brought in and looked after. Grrr!

And not forgetting the collection held at Gamm Vert today. It was lovely meeting people who had adopted dogs from us and hearing their news. Thanks to the volunteers who manned the stand, as always, and I am sure some adoptions will result from the day. The dogs that we took were immaculately behaved, as usual, and it was a great way to promote the SPA! Thanks to Gamm Vert for your hosting and to Royal Canin for sponsoring the event. If you weren’t able to make it today, they are happy to collect for us for a further two weeks, so no excuses!

Not every day can be judged by the number of adoptions; today was a successful day in so many ways!

Hocus leaves











Pocus leaves













Osiris leaves












The collection at Gamm Vert



Three dogs; three fresh starts!

Three lucky dogs left the refuge today, and none came in.

Two of today’s adoptees were puppies, Gin Fizz and Pina Colada of (yes, you guessed it) the Cocktail Litter. Sometimes when puppies leave the SPA I worry about them. I know it is stupid, as all every pup really wants is a loving family of his own,  but I sometimes wonder how they feel at suddenly losing the companionship of their brothers and sisters.

Well today I have no such worries, as Gin Fizz and Pina Colada left together! So they have the best of both worlds, a sibling AND a loving home. And for these pups who had such a rotten start in life, it is wonderful news. A couple of the litter are still left, and as ever there are plenty of other pups at the refuge, so come along and fall in love!

The third dog to leave was one who I was a little bit in love with. And were it not for the fact that I already have four dogs and a husband (who puts the brakes on), he may well have turned my head.

Biggles changed his name when he arrived with us, as we wanted him to have a totally fresh start. This three year old beagle cross had been left alone most of the time and was hardly ever walked due his owner’s work regime. Inevitably he found other ways to spend his time, and being in an apartment there was not much else to do apart from chew. Now, however Biggles has a garden and a family who are at home all day, so he will have a more normal dog life!

So good news all round today, and don’t forget we have a stand at Gamm Vert tomorrow, in partnership with Royal Canin. Gamm Vert is just behind Geant Salvaza, so if you are shopping, why not pop in. There will be photos of all the dogs at the refuge and even a couple of live models (of the canine as well as human variety)

And of course the refuge is open in the afternoon, so you can come and meet the dogs and cats in the flesh if you like!

Gin Fizz – adopted










Pina Colada – adopted











Biggles – adopted




Walking and getting good news!

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

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

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

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

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

Isa and Canelle










And at the finish, draped in the French Tricolore!



Deed not Breed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connor, a pedigree American Staffordshire Terrier. Category 2







Zina, a staffie cross Category 1


A different kind of cuddle!

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

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

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

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

Roxanne the wriggler








New arrivals Gulliver




















…and Bikini


Good news day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Duffy finds a home
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Gromit is adopted too

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And Rocky goes to friends of his owners











The Myths Of Sterilization

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

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

Sterilizing animals eliminates the desire to find a mate. This means fewer animals running off or wandering into traffic; chasing or biting people or their pets. Loose dogs also toilet whenever and wherever they like so as well as looking unsightly the risk of disease would lesson. A cleaner, happier and healthier environment for us all!

The health benefits for both the male and females are numerous. As far as disease is concerned, it certainly reduces the risks of mammary tumors and ovarian cancer in females and if you neuter a female dog prior to puberty, she has an almost zero risk of developing breast cancer.

Male dogs, too, may benefit, with the risk of testicular cancer eliminated – and rates of prostatic cancer reduced. From a behavioral standpoint, sterilization may reduce aggression toward other dogs, territorialism, and roaming, which can in turn protect dogs from the risk of injury associated with those behaviors, such as fights and getting hit by cars. Neutered males, particularly males who were neutered before puberty, are less likely to exhibit inappropriate urine-marking as well.

So why don’t people sterilize their pets?

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

-My dog is a male! – This comment normally comes from men! In addition to the benefits listed above, dogs conceive purely on biological instinct and don’t feel deprived by sterilization, but a dog that is not sterilized will suffer from extreme frustration if it scents a female in season and cant get to her. The result of this could easily lead to behavior problems and even reactive behavior – you are stopping the dog from following its natural instinct – to propagate the breed.

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

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

-It will change my dog’s personality. Dog owners tend to accord anthropomorphic properties to their pets and feel that a neutered dog will somehow be less “manly” and a spayed bitch will only be interested in eating all day. This is not true. Castration does not affect a dog’s nature; he retains his playful instincts.

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

-Undergoing sterilization is dangerous. As with all procedures that require an aesthetic, there is always a degree of risk, but if the procedure is undertaken by a licensed vet, the routine sterilization procedure is actually less dangerous and stressful than the complications that could happen in pregnancy.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer is back again


Piper Has Left



Heddet was adopted


As was Heka



Last to leave was Paradise