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Why Do Dogs End Up In The SPA?

Today we had five dogs arrive at the SPA, luckily one was claimed, but tonight I thought we would discuss why dogs end up in refuge.

When thinking about a new dog a lot of people ask why they should rescue rather than buy a pup from a neighbor or breeder and also why so many dogs end up at the SPA. Some people are suspicious and think that dogs who end up in rescue are genetically or behaviorally inferior. This really is not true. Many dogs lose their homes for different reasons and mostly its to do with problems the person or family giving up the dog is experiencing or has caused and is seldom the dogs fault!

Dogs come to the SPA for many reasons and believe me we have heard the lot! Many people buy or take a pup on impulse and when the novelty runs out they no longer want the responsibility. Others claim they no longer have time for the dog, have to work longer hours or have to move to a new home where pets aren’t accepted. I am getting divorced or my wife is pregnant are excuses we hear all the time as well as my child has become allergic to the dog. Lots of pups arrive because people don’t sterilize their pet. Why not? Is it the cost, ignorance or they simply don’t care? Sometimes we do hear stories where the owner is very ill or has even died and in my opinion that’s what the SPA should really be there for.

So what can we do to stop dogs being abandoned?

The first and most important thing is to think long and hard before getting a dog. The SPA encourages potential dog adopters to think carefully before deciding whether or not to take a dog home. Do your research and factor in whether or not you’ll be able to afford the dog, spend the necessary amount of time with them, and meet their mental and physical needs before agreeing to get one. Make sure nobody in the household is allergic before you bring it home, and be responsible and get your new pet spayed or neutered. If you don’t sterilize your dog and allow it to roam its not hard to predict the consequences, so if you are not prepared for the responsibility of a litter of pups then sterilize your dog as soon as possible.

Secondly, train your dog! All dogs need training and guidance and many dogs are abandoned when they hit adolescence and their behavior becomes an issue. If you are experiencing behavioral problems with your pet please seek advice and try to work through them. The bond you develop with your dog will really validate all your efforts.

Thirdly, be prepared to adapt to life’s changes. If you suddenly have to work longer hours or change jobs then get up a bit earlier and walk your dog, consider a dog walker or ask a  friend to help. Believe me, your dog would much prefer that to being abandoned at the SPA!

Last but certainly not least, sterilize you pets!

It’s seldom better for a dog to be abandoned than adapt to household changes and some dogs have a long wait before new homes are found. We have dogs who have been with us more than two years and sadly that is the reality of abandonment! Would you want that for your faithful friend?

Calvin – My Daddy Died ! 

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Uta & Ugo – Our owners moved to an apartment!

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Innuit – My owners moved and didn’t update the database!

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 My mum wasn’t sterilized and I have 11 brothers and sisters!

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The Tide Is Turning – 2 out 2 in!

Yesterday and today were nice days at the refuge. The sun was shining and four new volunteers turned up to walk dogs so even although one more of the litter of twelve Anatolian Shepherds arrived as well as a 10 year old spaniel,we are feeling positive. We also had an unexpected adoption! Apache our nine year old Brittany spaniel has left with a super couple who are well known to the SPA!

Eclat our last elderly Brittany spaniel had no sooner left for Scotland when Apache arrived. This poor boy had been wandering in a village for about a month before being brought to us and he certainly seemed grateful for regular meals and attention. He has thrived since arriving at the SPA and was so happy to be leaving with a new mum and dad.

Today there was more good news when Cleopatra left with Graham and Elaine. Cleopatra arrived at the refuge in March this year, along with her sister Nefertiti. When Cleopatra arrived she was sedated as she was thought to be a ‘wild’ dog so we were very cautious as she woke up. She may well have been a stray but she certainly wasn’t wild and we quickly saw what an affectionate young girl she was. Her sister,Nefertiti was quickly adopted and now after a seven month wait, today was Cleo’s day!

Graham and Elaine live in the UK and had been keeping an eye on our website for a while and actually spotted another of our dogs who they flew over to meet. Now if someone is willing to fly over from the UK to meet a dog we know that they are serious. But as is often the case when you actually meet the dogs, walk and play with them , your heart goes elsewhere which was of course very lucky for Cleo! Cleo will have the best of both worlds spending lots of time in both France and the UK, what an exciting life for the scared ‘wild’ dog who arrived a few months ago!

So that’s Cleo our youngster and Apache our elderly gent in happy homes tonight and there will be more dogs leaving later on this week, so watch this space!

Don’t forget to read Pitchous story, ‘A Shaggy Dog Tale’ on our Life After the Refuge page, its well worth the read!

Apache our elderly gent.

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Cleopatra left today.

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The forth Anatolian Shepherd pup has arrived!

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Things can only get better…..

After the  sad news of two dogs being returned within 2 weeks of being in their new families and then the news of all the entries over the last few days,  I thought that today we would concentrate on our successes.  Habbie and Mojitos return was very sad but looking at the facts and figures its only 5% of Septembers adoptions, that’s 95% of our adoptions have resulted in happy dogs in loving families.

So lets have a look at some of Septembers happy dogs:-

First of all there is Pollux, a Griffin Korthal cross who arrived at the refuge when he was only ten months old. This boy was a real stunner and why it took 7 months to rehome him is a mystery but maybe he was just waiting for the perfect family. And true enough in September we were contacted by Caroline and Vince who had seen his picture on our website and were sure that they could offer Pollux a forever home. After many emails and calls they reserved Pollux online and drove down to pick up up on the 25th September. When they met Pollux it was love at first sight and so a happy dog and happy owners set off for home. A five hour journey was nothing for Pollux who traveled like a dream and has fitted right in to their lifestyle. He is loving his new life walking in the vineyards and swimming in the river Lot. Caroline is just about to retire but commutes from London on the same plane as my hubby so I am going to meet Pollux at the airport on Thursday nights….I cant wait to see this handsome boy again!

Lucky is the perfect example of there being a perfect family for every dog! Lucky, a two and a half year old shepherd cross arrived at the refuge in March 2012 and for some reason didn’t attract much attention. Maybe he too was just waiting for the right owner as the fantastic updates we have had since his adoption last week are enough to bring tears to your eyes! Lucky has a playmate Ami, a young Doberman who was very used to being an only dog, but clever Lucky minded his manners and behaved impeccably and within a couple of days they were best friends.  So Lucky has gone from the refuge to a very loving home, with a playmate, long walks and snoozes on the couch…bliss!

Bronx is the 10 week old pup that I took to Bordeaux last week. This young chap was very well behaved en route in the car with my dogs and was delighted to meet his new mum and dad. He was especially pleased to meet his new ‘brother ‘ Hugo who is a young, very friendly Griffon cross, desperate for a playmate so there are bound to be lots of fun and games for Bronx. Bronx will have 2 ha to run free in so I can’t think of a better life for a Border Collie x Griffon!

Watch our ‘Life After The Refuge’ page for Pitchous story and without giving too much away all I am saying is have tissues at the ready!

Habbie and Mojito have now gone to super, experienced homes so hopefully this little upset will already be forgotten ! Its true that we may have had more dogs arrive than nearby refuges who euthanize but we pride ourselves on happy healthy dogs, super adoptions and a fantastic team of volunteers. We will move heaven and earth to get good homes for our dogs and whats more we have a clear conscious because we care!

 Pollux with his mum.

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Lucky trying his best to keep up with Ami

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Bronx with his new friend Hugo

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From bad to worse.

As I mentioned yesterday, there was a net increase in the number of dogs at the refuge despite the open days. This is not usually the case. What ALWAYS happens, however, is that people assume that the refuge will have space after the open weekend, so they choose the Monday afterwards to abandon their dogs.

Today we have had four new arrivals; two puppies and two adults, none of whom is identified.

We have no space.

We cannot carry on like this.

Can anyone give us some advice as to what we should do, please? We already sterilise all the females that leave the refuge, so the puppies who are arriving on what appears to be a daily basis are not our fault. What can we do to stop people abandoning their dogs?
What can we do with all the dogs we have got at the refuge if no one is adopting?

If you look at things logically, there are only a certain number of people who are willing and able to adopt, and once they all have animals, there is nowhere else for the dogs to go, other than the refuges. Ours is now full.

We have not conducted any euthanasia due to lack of space for three years and this is something of which we are all extremely proud. We do not want to return to the bad old days. But we have several puppies in foster care, and several adult dogs too, and despite this, there is no more room at the refuge. The SPA acts as the pound, so we are legally obliged to take any stray dogs brought in by the Mairies with whom we have an agreement, and from the Police and Gendarmes too.

And the icing on the cake? The Anatolian Shepherds who were brought in yesterday are three of a litter of 12, the other nine having been given away randomly to anyone who wanted a puppy. I am convinced that most, if not all of them, will arrive at the refuge in due course. Sterilise your dog, you irresponsible people!

So what can we do? Does anyone have any answers? Can anyone help us, please. And don’t think we are all just sitting idle, waiting for help. We are constantly looking for answers and ideas. Thanks in advance to Association Orfee, who are taking five of our dogs later on this month. Can anyone else out there offer a lifeline to any of our dogs, please?

I have no good news to give you today. I see no end to this and I feel more desperate than I have for years.

Sterilise your dogs!
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I am upset and angry (in case you hadn’t guessed)
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Open weekend disappointment: 7 dogs in, 4 out

Well, it was day two of the Open Weekend, and I just wish I had better news! There was a time when the National Open Days (which take place 3 times a year) would result in numerous adoptions. In fact at the Christmas Open Day two years ago we had 23 dog adoptions and not a single return. Those days appear to be well and truly over.

I am trying not to be too down, as we did have a lovely day, and there were a number of reservations made, but only one dog actually left. That was Mojito, who had been abandoned on Thursday the same time as Habbie. So we have to be happy for him. And Poppins, who had been brought in yesterday, found her owner.

There was a net increase in the number of dogs, though, as one spaniel was found tied up at the gate this morning and three Anatolian Shepherd puppies were brought in having been found in an appalling condition. Our thanks to the couple who brought them in, they would surely have perished had they spent much more time straying.

On a more positive note, there were lots of volunteers at the refuge, as well as visitors. Karen and John ran the bottle tombola, and there was a cake stall, too. Thanks to Anita and everyone else who brought cakes. Thanks as ever to dog walkers old and new for giving up their sunny Sunday afternoon to support the refuge. We really appreciate you, and the dogs and cats even more so! And let’s not forget Melanie, Carole and Geoffrey who are SPA employees but who came along to help out in their free time.

Plenty of dogs were walked, and cats caressed, and if you ignore the fact that we have more animals now than we started with, the weekend was quite a success. However if adoptions do not pick up soon, I simply do not know what we are going to do.

There was plenty of kindness to animals shown this weekend, but I don’t think St Francis of Assisi would be very impressed with the human race right now!

John relaxing at the bottle tombola! (don’t worry, we made him work, too!)

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And just look at the state of these poor puppies!

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Open days are meant to result in fewer animals at the refuge, not more!

Well, the first of our two open days didn’t go quite as planned. I thought it was generally understood that the movement of animals on open days is meant to be out of the SPA, rather than in. Especially on the open weekend that is dedicated to St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Some people used the opportunity to dump their pets. One adult dog, one puppy and five kittens were waiting outside the gates this morning, and another puppy arrived this afternoon. For any animal found at the gates, there is an automatic 10 days pound time, so if you think your abandoned animal is going to leave the same day, you are WRONG.

We are at our wit’s end. What are we supposed to do with all these dogs and cats? The refuge walls are not made of elastic, you know!

On a far more positive note, the second day of dog and cat food collection at Geant was even more successful than yesterdays, with a further 8 trolley loads of goodies arriving at the refuge. Once again many many thanks to all of you who gave so generously (some of you brought food directly to the SPA, too), to all the volunteers who manned the stand and again to Geant for hosting the event.

In terms of adoptions, two lucky dogs left. First was Wallace, who caught the eye of a young couple. He was fine with their toddler and scared of cats, so he went off very happily. This picture does him no justice at all, he is a very handsome boy.

Second to leave was Djinn, mother of Galice who was adopted a couple of months ago. I like this story particularly because Collette and Dave came for a male dog under two and left with a female of five and a half. They let their heart be their guide, and Djinn is going to be a very happy girl!

Let’s  hope tomorrow brings more adoptions. If you are thinking of coming to see us, you are more than welcome, but not if you are planning on abandoning an animal. There is just no more room!

Poppins, just 6 weeks old
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Lucky Wallace
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And Djinn leaves despite not being a young male!

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The van arrives from Geant. Thank you everyone!

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Dog food collection and Habbie leaves the SPA.

Today was day one of our dog and cat food collection which is taking place at Geant Cite 2 to coincide with the National SPA Open Days (tomorrow and Sunday).

Things got off to a slowish start, but by the end of the day we had seven shopping trolleys piled high with goodies. It was wonderful to see people’s generosity, despite the general lack of funds around. But for me the best bit was chatting to people who had adopted dogs and cats from us and were keen to give us news, and in most cases show us pictures of their beloved pets on their smart phones.

So we had news of Coco (formerly Sangria), although I must admit that her owners keep in close touch via Facebook already, and also of a spaniel/setter cross, Alex, who was adopted 2 years ago. Then the adopter of Prince came to see us; This lab/sharpei cross had been abandoned and spent all his time at the SPA crying. He readjustment to his new life was not easy as he had aggression issues, but his owner persevered and now this lucky boy goes everywhere with his mum, happily sitting by her side in crowded cafes. Take heed all you people who give up if your dog so much as growls at another dog.

Thank you to all the volunteers who came to man (or mostly again “woman”) the stand; thanks to everyone who gave so generously and thanks to Geant Cite 2 for offering to hold the collection. We are lucky enough to be placed opposite Rose and Michel’s bar, which happens to do the best cappuccino in Carcassonne, too!

Anyway, back to the topic of people who give up on dogs without making any effort…..Habbie left again today. She has another chocolate labrador to play with and owners who clearly know and love this breed.

I don’t want to speak too soon, but this time I think it is going to work out for her!

Don’t forget the open day this weekend. I know the weather was appalling today, but it is due to clear up. We don’t want our cakes all going soggy, do we?

Midway through the afternoon at Geant. It got better! 
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In praise of cuddly toys!

Sometimes I feel as if I am banging my head against a brick wall. How many times do I have to say this before people will listen:

Do not take a puppy or a dog of any age, in fact, if you are not willing to put in any effort to its training. This applies whether you have bought a puppy from a breeder (grrr) or adopted a dog from the SPA or another refuge. If you are not willing to put in time and maybe even attend dog training school, then it is better for both you and the dog if you buy a cuddly toy.

To my huge disappointment, today saw the return of Habbie, the pedigree chocolate labrador who was adopted eleven days ago. The first and only indication that anything was wrong came by email two nights ago. Before I had time to reply to give advice (yes, even I like a couple of hours off if possible), another email had arrived to say that “the dog” was being returned today (between last night and this morning Habbie had lost her name). No advice (most notably to visit a dog trainer) was welcomed, despite my efforts to persuade them to contact a trainer (whose number I provided), for what are nothing other than usual puppy problems.

So just like that, this dog who is under a year old and has already had several owners due to NO FAULT OF HER OWN (divorce, house move and lack of patience in that order) is back at the refuge.

Even before she had been dumped (that is the only word I can use), another dog was abandoned. This time it was one of the cocktail litter, Mojito who had been adopted two weeks ago, and whose brother, Bronx, left yesterday. He was adopted when he was ten weeks old, so his behaviour cannot be any different from that of any other puppy! The owner freely admitted that she was not watching her child when the puppy supposedly “bit” him, and of course puppies of all ages nibble (cos that is what this was) until they are taught not to. And in any case you should never ever leave a child and a dog together unsupervised.

There is a page on this site entitled “Adoption Guidelines”. This explains some of what you should expect when you adopt a dog. Please read this page before deciding to adopt. It causes dogs enormous upheaval to be adopted and brought back to the refuge. They don’t understand what they have done wrong (especially when they are just being dogs!). And I am fed up with this constant refrain of “but I am scared for my child’s safety”. Decent training and discipline of both children and dogs can stop the two coming into conflict. If you are not willing to put in any effort, get a teddy bear.

Finally remember that like people, all dogs are different. Don’t go online and decide that you want a dog of a certain breed because they are “always gentle and obedient”. Each dog has its own personality, a bit like children, in many respects.

And there are some lovely looking teddy bears out there.

Habbie is back
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So is Mojito

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This may suit both families better. Meet Edward Bear!

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Cocktails and Cupcakes!

This morning at (almost) the crack of dawn, Bronx went off to start his new life, courtesy of Moira, who took him halfway to his new home where he was handed over to his new family. They had contacted us via the internet and after much discussion; they chose Bronx, one of the “Cocktail litter”. This still leaves two females and a male from this litter looking for a home.

Although we know that the mum is a border collie, these pups really are remarkably calm, so if any of you were worried about crazily active dog behaviour, I think you can relax! But of course these are not the only pups looking for homes, as we have the eight dogs from the Egyptian Deities litter as well as lovely Moka, who is in foster with Val.

Why not come and meet them this weekend, when the SPA has its open days, so will be open on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The adopters of Bronx live very close to a relatively new but extremely committed SPA supporter, Jim. So they swung by his house and filled up their car with goodies that he had put by for the refuge. Cat boxes, dog baskets, leads and collars, not to mention 100 anti-flea treatments for dogs and 100 for cats! What a haul!

Many thanks to Moira for her dog-delivery, to Bronx’s family for adopting the little guy, and to Jim for his generosity.

However Bronx wasn’t the only lucky dog today. After just short of six months at the refuge Cupcake finally found a home. He is a little jagd terrier, and we have several dogs of this breed at the refuge right now (Mozart, Martin and Groove being three who are still waiting for a home). Cupcake had been waiting the longest, however, and it is great news for him.

Be happy, both of you!

Here is Bronx, meeting his new family!
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And here he is, already settling in with his new pal, Hugo

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Cupcake found a home after 6 months

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And look at this fabulous hall from SPA supporter, Jim.

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Third super adoption in a row!

Today is Tuesday. Let’s just ignore Sunday, when the refuge was shut, and just look at the last three days when the SPA was open. On Saturday we said goodbye to Lucky. Then on Monday we said goodbye to Dusty and then today we had yet another single adoption but again an excellent one.

Today we said goodbye to Cheyenne. I know I say the same about all of the dogs, but she really was one of my favourites! This beautiful young malinois arrived in early June, complete with a broken leg (which is presumably why she was discarded). She spent several weeks in the infirmary while she was recovering and was tied up during the day in the sunshine on a long lead to meet people (she was initially a bit unsure of herself). This is why so many of the employees and volunteers know her so well, we all had plenty of cuddles!

Once Cheyenne had recovered and been sterilised we moved her to the big kennels, where she shared with a male and got lots more chance to meet other dogs and people. But finding her the perfect home wasn’t going to be easy. This breed, despite its popularity in France, is not an easy option. Malinois are highly intelligent and require plenty of stimulation and exercise. Not a dog for lazing around the house with an occasional walk (another reason these dogs are so often found in refuges).

Finally today was the day. After getting in contact with Carole yesterday, what proved to be the perfect owner arrived today. Cheyenne will  have lots of company and exercise with this sporty lady and her two older children. Perfect! I am so happy for her!

Of course as ever we have had some dogs brought in. Yesterday after the refuge was shut a small but strangely familiar dog was found tied to the gate, complete with harness and lead. Adopted from us in Summer  2011 having been seized from a dog trafficker, Poody, an Andelucian Podenco, born in 2007 has apparently been abandoned. The fact that her adopter’s phone number is no longer in service is a pretty clear sign that the dog is not lost. Shame on you.

And today a dog of at least 12 years old arrived, very sad looking and with mange. Her owners have had enough of her, too, it would seem.

The world is a very sad place for certain dogs. But for Cheyenne things have just got a whole lot better!

A very happy Cheyenne

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Poor Poody is back.

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And we have just got this little girl, as yet unnamed.

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