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Latest News

Dyson leaves, but the mood stays bleak.

Before the refuge had even opened this morning we had had an adoption! As you know, we open at 2pm, but at 8am Dyson, our magnificent Border collie/ Pyrenean Mountain Dog cross left for his new home just outside Geneva. This beautiful boy had been abandoned in mid-January, very much to his owner’s regret. And I am not surprised. Good with other dogs, fine with cats, fine with children. The perfect dog. But BIG!

So when our sister site, Doglinks, sent us details of a lady who was interested in Galileo (the Briard cross who is leaving for the UK in a couple of weeks), we suggested alternatives of a similar size and hairiness. Dyson ticked all the boxes and this morning he started the journey to his new life.

We had our first arrival also before the refuge opened, too. A puppy, arrived, but Carole was on hand to put photos on Facebook, and Tina’s owner came to collect her at 14H00. A quick trip to the vet for micro-chipping was required, of course, so that is one more dog who is now “legal”. I have to ask yet again why it takes a trip to the SPA for people to get their dog micro-chipped? And you can bet your bottom dollar that many of these dogs would never be identified had they not passed via our door. IT IS THE LAW!

And just before we shut a small male poodle arrived, in a terrible state. He has been spruced up (see the before and after pictures below) and I am sure he will appeal to someone out there!

Bad news just piles up right now. This site is dedicated to dogs, but this morning we lost Max, a cat who was much loved and has been fighting typhus for several days. The employees have been working incredibly hard to save his life and also to stop the illness spreading. They succeeded in the latter, but sadly Max succumbed this morning, accompanied by many tears. Bye-bye, Champion!

Two dogs left today, so why am I feeling so low? The aftermath of Jim’s death has affected many of us, and the revelation that he was buried in an unmarked grave this morning is just shocking. I am sure that the spirits of all the dogs and cats were present, even if none of his friends had been told.

His dogs and cats are in desperate need of rehoming or they risk being put to sleep. Please consider helping out any way you can, even if it is just by spreading the word.










Tina – RECLAIMED (and now micro-chipped)











Andy arrives like this









But turns out to look like this: (good work, guys!)













And tearful farewells to Max, the champion


One out, one in and some bad news.

I have spent much of the day on the phone talking to friends old and new, including many people who up to now have been known to me only by name. We are all uniting in trying to help in the aftermath of a very sad event.

Yesterday an English gentleman called Jim passed away. He was only 71, and had devoted his entire life to animal rescue. He was particularly fond of Dobermans and has rescued over a hundred during his lifetime. In addition Jim adored cats, and it was he who recently adopted seven cats from the SPA who were never going to be homed from the refuge as they were too nervous of people or had just been overlooked for years.

Jim’s death has left 10 dogs and many more cats homeless. We of course are busy planning how we can return our cats to the refuge, and I am desperately sorry for all of them. When I last spoke to Jim, less than a week ago, he had Socks, the feisty Siamese, on his lap and the other timid cats were just starting to come out of their shells.

This is nothing but a tragedy. Thanks to everyone for pulling together. Let’s try and honour Jim’s memory by making sure all his beloved animals end up safe. Our thoughts are also with his wife, who has lost her carer. Sylvia has advanced Alzheimer’s, and is now permanently hospitalised.

It is easy to criticise; what was an elderly gentleman with a sick wife doing with all those animals? But Jim had a heart as big as the moon. He had spent his whole life rescuing dogs and cats and it is a hard habit to break, as many of us know. I am sure St Peter had no trouble letting him through the Pearly Gates.

On a MUCH happier note, one of my favourite dogs found a home today. I know I have lots of favourites, but so would you if you knew our dogs! In any case, today it was the turn of lovely Vienna. She was brought in with her sister, Farrah, just after Christmas. Farrah, being lighter in colour, was adopted very quickly, but Vienna, has had a bit longer to wait. She had a final walk with her beloved pal Chips today and off she went to her new life.

A small female was brought in having been found in the village of Pezens. We have named her Pixie. If no one comes to reclaim her she will be up for adoption in ten days. I have a feeling she will leave us quickly!

Vienna says a final goodbye to Chips before heading off!









Pixie arrives


Forms, walks, and some sad news.

In contrast to yesterday the weather was glorious today. Sadly, Moira and I had already agreed that, regardless of the weather, we would spend as long as it took today to fill in the paperwork required for the five dogs who are leaving for the UK later on this month. There are quite a few forms to fill in, both for the transporter and for the association itself.

The appeal is going quite well, with some large donations and also several small ones, which of course add up. As one of the people who donated via our Paypal account said, if everyone gives just 5 or 10 euros, the amount will be reached easily. So come on, guys, how about looking down the back of the sofa for old coins, or giving us what you would have spent on that extra coffee or glass of wine? Our account name is spacarcassonne@yahoo.fr or there is a link on this site.

With two of us working on it, we finished the forms in time to take several dogs out for walks, and we were not alone. We had two new volunteers to help us, plus the beautifully named Anoushka, who has been with us for a month or so now. Our two newbies are used to big dogs, so some dogs were walked who only usually get out when “Team Sport” is around.

Two other refuge supporters came to ask for written authorisation to carry out a collection at Leclerc in Limoux tomorrow. Bit last minute, I know, but we are nothing if not quick to react. So for all you Limouxins, why not pop along to Leclerc tomorrow and show them some support!

Unusually (but blessed relief) no dogs arrived, but none left either. There was a reservation though, of a dog who is still in the pound, no less. So his (or her) stay at the refuge will be as short as it can possibly be.

Finally some sad news. One of our volunteers lost her beloved dog this morning. So today’s photo is of Zaia, who was 11 years old today, coincidentally. She will be sorely missed by Dominique, and although she did not come from the SPA, she was a rescue dog and has had a life of love that most dogs can only dream of.

Our thoughts are with you, Dominique.

Beautiful Zaia, who went over the Rainbow Bridge this morning. 

The arrival of Rocco and Clara

What a horrid day it has been weather wise. I can’t help but think of how miserable the dogs must be on days like this, huddling together trying to keep warm. I look at my four all asleep by the fire, and it makes me so sorry for all the dogs who at the SPA.

However many more are not lucky enough to even be at the SPA and have to cope on their own. So when we welcomed two new dogs today, after my initial frustration at their arrival, I realised that at least these two small young dogs are going to be well looked after now that they are with us. And please don’t criticise me for not paying the same attention to the cats; although they would like (and deserve) homes too, they are indoors in a heated house, with free access to the outside. The dogs are in unheated concrete kennels.

Our two new arrivals are called Rocco and Clara; Both are small and are wire haired and are young. Unwanted puppies, perhaps? In any case they were found at the gate this morning. Presumaby abandoned. Very cute and on their way to a better life before too long, we hope!

Not the best start to the week; let’s hope things improve during the week, starting with the weather, please!

So to cheer us all up, here is a picture of lovely Kobe (ex Cacao). He is four months old today and weighs in at am impressive 10kg. What a change from the tiny scrap of a pup who was found in the rubbish tip and whose two siblings (of three) were so weak that they died even after reaching the safety of the SPA. Go Kobe!

New arrival -Rocco











And his sister, Clara













But to cheer us up, here is Kobe! Safe and warm and LOVED


Therapy Pets

Last week we posted a picture of Sake, one of our ex SPA dogs, working as a therapy dog in an old folks home on our facebook page and we were surprised at some of the comments, so tonight’s blog is to explain the role of a therapy dog and also the benefits to both the dog and to humans.

A therapy dog is trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, schools, hospices and to people with learning difficulties.

Its well known that interaction with a gentle, friendly pet has both physical and mental health benefits. It lowers blood pressure and releases endorphins which have a calming effect and reduce pain. Petting a friendly dog or cat lifts moral, reduces boredom, lowers anxiety and increases communication.

On Monday I went along both to help and to see for myself and I have to say I was really impressed! When we arrived we did a quick tour of the dayroom to say hello. You could see the expression changing on patients faces, they smiled and were very interested in their special visitor! I bet lots of these old folk had owned a pet at one time and were remembering happy times!

We then went into a treatment room where we worked with a group of 5 elderly people. Most of these patients had varying degrees of mobility problems so we began with letting them pet the dog and brush him. This encouraged them to talk and to move their arms and hands.  They all smiled when it was their turn, it was truly amazing to see a little smile appear on a previously blank expression!  The patients who were mobile then had a little walk with Sake. To keep everyone nice and safe we used two leashes, the patient  held one leash encouraging them to grip and pull whilst we held the other leash. Of course the patients confined to a wheelchair didn’t miss out on this fun and also had a walk, again they held the leash as we pushed them along. Next was a game of hoops where the patients put a collar like hoop on the dogs neck and then took it off. Again this was encouraging gripping, stretching and movement.  The highlight of the day for Sake was when the patients used their bare feet to gently massage him. Gosh he really loved that, as did the patients!

Not all doggies could be or would want to be a therapy dog. They must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle , calm and most of all enjoy human contact.  They also need to know certain commands such as come, stay, sit, down, no, off and ok.

So what does the dog get out of this? Well some dogs love to interact and be petted by humans. They thrive on the attention and interactions and seeing Sake’s happy demeanour and waggy tail I would say he certainly enjoyed his visit as much as the patients did.

A year ago Sake was abandoned at the SPA and now he has a fantastic life which he shares with several other dogs, horses ,donkeys and a lama. The lama has also visited the old people’s home, now that I would have loved to see!  We are very proud of him!

Who wouldnt love this?

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Two lovely adult dogs are adopted!

Well, as you may have noticed, we have had a bit of a run on puppies recently. Today it was the turn of a couple of our adult dogs to leave the refuge.

First was fabulous Igloo. A family came to see him on Thursday and planned to return today to check that this magnificent dog got on well with their own dog. In fact they could not wait, so compatibility was tested yesterday, and today Igloo left for his new home. He will have lots of space, as he is going to live in a domaine. Lucky boy!

Then it was time to say goodbye to one of our favourites. You may remember Patrouille who was brought in 2 weeks ago by one of our volunteers, Isa. She had searched everywhere for the owners of this lovely dog, but with no luck. So reluctantly she brought Patrouille to the SPA, along with her four puppies, the Vampire Diaries litter.

No one likes bringing dogs to the refuge, especially when we are full. But this really was the best thing for Patrouille. She was identified, but her owners had denied all knowledge of her when Isa had spoken to them. When we contacted them, they made it pretty obvious that they wouldn’t be coming to get their dog. And I for one was delighted. Instead of producing litter after litter, this lovely dog has gone to a fabulous home where she can get all the love and affection she is desperate for.

A third dog left, little Fox, who was identified and had been waiting for his owners since his arrival earlier this week.

So three out and (hush) no arrivals today…..










Patrouille  – ADOPTED thanks to Isa.











Three pups leave and more birthdays are celebrated!

Well, I am delighted to say that Peter Pan was adopted today. I felt really sorry for him yesterday when Wendy left and he was moved to live in the cat house to give him some company. Excellent news for this handsome boy

And that is not all! Puppy Catherine left, she of the Vampire Diaries litter. Just two of this litter left now, plus their mum, who has not been reclaimed by her owner. This is a huge relief for me, as I love this dog and I would hate her to return to a life of neglect, punctuated by producing unwanted puppies every so often.

The third departure was that of Master, yet another puppy, but one who arrived alone. So three pups are in the warm tonight, which is wonderful news for us. Two of the Vampire Diaries puppies are waiting patiently, and we have dogs of all ages, from 3 months to 11 years for those of you who prefer your canines to be more mature!

Further to yesterday’s blog, a couple of other people have sent us pictures of their dogs celebrating birthdays. These photos have already appeared on Facebook, so apologies to you if you have seen them. However not everyone has Facebook, and I know of one volunteer, Benedicte, who will be happy to see this picture of Biggles (now Pigale), who used to belong to an acquaintance of hers but who was unable to spend as much time with this young active dog as he needed. He is doing just fine now, and his owner is delighted with the health benefits to herself as well!

And last but not least is Bill, who has just celebrated his first birthday and as you can see, is being spoiled rotten. The Brits are not the only ones who are potty about their dogs to the extent of baking them birthday cakes!

Peter Pan – ADOPTED











Catherine- ADOPTED






















Biggles (Pigale) celebrates birthday number 4 in a loving home












And Bill is one!


Adoptions and news of old (and not so old) friends.

Today two puppies left the refuge, adorable Wendy from the Neverland litter, and the first of the Vampire Diaries pups, Demon. Fabulous news for both of them, but I wonder why no one wants Peter Pan, who is just stunning. Just as well that we don’t all have the same taste in dogs, though!

A beautiful border collie arrived this morning, found unidentified in Carcassonne. He is sure to find a home soon, unless his owner comes first (and is willing to have him identified, of course)

Today I want to show you a picture of Gwen, who celebrated her 4th birthday on Tuesday. She was at another refuge and was on the list for the one way trip to the vets when the SPA Carcassonne intervened and saved her and four other dogs who were programmed for euthanasia. Gwen was terrified of her own shadow and was taken home to the calm of volunteer Val’s house. Several weeks later she caught the eye of a Fauve de Bretagne-loving couple in the UK, where she is flourishing. So happy birthday Gwen and thanks to Anita and Phil for seeing the potential of this dog and loving her as much as you obviously do.

Other wonderful photos arrived of Ugo and Uta in their new home. They too are adored and it is incredible that a mere 3 weeks ago these two elderly dogs were at the SPA with very little prospect of ever being adopted. What is even more heart warming is that Diana suffered a severe allergic to the dogs when they first arrived, and was put on huge doses of anti-histamines. It turns out that the allergy was probably caused by the shampoo that was used to wash Ugo and Uta before they left the SPA. But Diana stated categorically that even had the allergy not gone away, she would have never brought the dogs back, even had it meant having an injection every day.

When you consider some of the pathetic reasons people give for returning dogs to the refuge, you have to wonder how members of the human race can vary so much!

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Ycare arrives









Happy Birthday Gwen











And Freedom for Ugo and Uta!


C them go!

Last night just as I left the refuge for the evening, an elderly labrador was brought in. I quickly took some photos, sad that another old dog had arrived. The photos went onto our Facebook page and the dog’s owner posted immediately to say that she would be in to collect him today. How I wish it was like that every time! Rox was tattooed, but during his 14 (yes, 14) years, the tattoo had faded. Carole must be very disappointed not have a day of scouring the “possibles” on the central database, using question marks for the illegible digits. Sometimes Facebook is wonderful!

And that was not the only good bit of news today: Three dogs were adopted, all of whom had names that begin with the letter C! (for those of you who were wondering what the title was about!)

Just over a week ago, when she was abandoned due to the illness of her owner, we had real worries for Canelle. This dog had spent eight years in a loving home and was very upset at finding herself at the refuge. We were worried that her age would put people off, but not a bit of it. Just 5 days later Canelle had caught someone’s eye and yesterday she was sterilised prior to leaving for her new home. In fact (and we haven’t told her this, as we don’t want her to get big-headed), quite a few people expressed interest in her. I hope some of the other potential adopters will consider our other elderly dogs; Canelle is not the only one in need of a home!

Another wonderful piece of news today was the adoption of Chino. He has not been with us for long, but he arrived with a malformation of the eyelid and I am sure this is why he was dumped at our door. Initially nervous, a move to the cat house was all it took to show this little guy’s true colours. And a minor operation later meant he was ready for his new home!

And there is more: Our chubby little puppy, Cubby was adopted too, leaving Peter Pan and Wendy together in Neverland for the time being! Not for long, I am sure! Pups as cute at these two should soon be adopted.  And photos of our four new pups have just been uploaded to Facebook, too! The Vampire Diaries Litter!

A good day at the refuge!








Canelle – ADOPTED




















Joey Star leaves and Moira and I have a laugh!

Thanks to Carole the photos of Joey Star had already been published on Facebook before my blog had even been written. By the time the blog was on Facebook, Joey’s owner had already seen the photos and had contacted us! Joey’s real name is Tyrex and today he left the SPA with a brand new micro-chip and a very happy owner!

So that was great news to start the afternoon!

Otherwise there was some activity, but none of it good. The owner of the two setters, Hunter and Barbour, arrived to collect his dogs, whom he had lost over two weeks ago. He refused to have them identified, however and was quite vocal about this fact. It was pointed out to him that it was not us that were taking his money, and that it was a legal requirement that the dogs are identified, but he was adamant. And aggressive. Luckily the Police Municipal happened to be at the refuge, so monsieur left without his dogs.

So for the sake of 120 euros he prefers to give up two fabulous animals. What love he must have for his dogs! The strangest thing about this is that Hunter’s name really IS Hunter! What are the odds?

There was one other part of the afternoon which was funny but only to people like Moira and me, and everyone else who has a warped sense of humour. The two of us were walking dogs and were joined by a husky, who is often seen wandering near the refuge. I took a photo of it in case it was lost, and it followed us for most of the walk. The same thing happened on the next walk, the husky followed us. This time I heard someone beeping their car horn (but not getting out) to attract the dog’s attention, so I walked back down the hill to get the husky to go towards its owner (as I believe is correct dog etiquette).

It was then that I got a torrent of abuse, and accusations that I was stealing the dog! I explained that I was walking SPA dogs, but no, apparently I was doing so deliberately in order to steal the husky. Yeah, like we don’t have enough dogs already! I tried (again) to explain that I was not stealing the dog, that I had no lead other than the one I was using to walk the SPA dog. At this point the charming lady told me to do something that I won’t spell out here but which is in fact is physically impossible.

I had to laugh. She would be better off enclosing her garden and /or keeping her dogs under control than wasting her energy shouting rude words in public.

Made Moira and me smile, though!

Just another day in the madness of the dog rescue world!

Hunter- not worth the cost of a chip











Barbour- Likewise.