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Latest News

Pocket Picked Today!

Well today the weather was nice, lots of dogs were walked and there was one adoption!

Today tiny Pocket, a ten month old Cavalier Kings Charles was adopted! When Pocket arrived we were sure that this tiny cute girl would soon be reclaimed.  Of course Pocket wasn’t identified so all we could do was hope that her owners would call to say that she was missing. Days and weeks past but no one seemed to be looking for the gorgeous little girl.

One of our volunteers took pity on her and fostered her so she did not have to face the trauma of a kennel and this meant we could get an accurate picture of how Pocket behaved around other dogs, cats and children. She was great with all of them but unsurprisingly enough seemed to think that her bed was the sofa so we suspect that Pocket has definitely been a lap dog! Like all of our females, Pocket was sterilised before she left thus ensuring that she can never be used for breeding.

Many of our volunteers at the SPA are also foster families for pups, kittens or for dogs who arrive needing a little bit more tender loving care than life in a kennel can offer.  These foster families provide an extremely valuable role which helps us assess the dogs’ reaction to a home environment and lets us know which areas the dog may need a little help with. It’s not unusual for dogs who come into rescue to need a little help with toilet training, socialization or recall and being with a fosterer who will help with any issues, gives these dog a much better chance at a successful adoption. All of our foster families are very experienced and most have well balanced dogs and cats of their own which provides a perfect environment for a needy dog. Lots of our foster families have children who are very dog ‘savvy’ which provides fantastic socialization for our dogs. The foster family can give us a real insight into the personality of the dog which makes it far easier to find the perfect forever home.

Today was also a very special anniversary for 14 year old Rookie who was adopted by Jane two years ago!  Jane said today “it’s an honour having an oldie SPA dog to live out the rest of his life with me” its so very true and  I really wish more people would have this attitude!

Pocket adopted!



Rookie who was adopted two years ago today!



Three Adoptions, Despite The Weather!

Despite the horrid weather today we had three adoptions!

Paterson, a handsome Shepherd cross was spotted on our website by a young family and after taking him out for a walk and ensuring that he got on ok with their children, they reserved him and after a visit to the vets this week for a couple of snips he left today. He was literally jumping with joy when he saw his new family again, I am betting that there is going to be fun and games tonight in that household!

Rocco , a fifteen month old Jack Russell cross arrived at the SPA with his sister Clara at the start of February. Like most of the tiny cute dogs he hasn’t had long to wait and left today with his new family.

Last but not least to leave was our 20 month old Beauceron cross Djamon. When he arrived in October he was a bit of a timid but after lots of socialisation in the office he quickly regained his confidence and off he went today!

Like all young dogs these boys will need some training. We cannot stress enough the importance of training your dog. If you want a dog who you can let of leash and take anywhere you need to be willing to put the time and effort into training it. All dogs, rescue or not need to be shown what is acceptable behaviour and what is not and the best way to do this is to take them along to your local doggy school.

When families with young children adopt from the SPA they are always given the same advice: Supervise your dogs and children while they are together. This advice is also given from vets and trainers everywhere yet there still hundreds of dog bites each year, with over half of these injuries to children ages 5-9!

The bites are usually not a result of negligent parents leaving Fido to care for the baby while mum does household chores, oblivious to the needs of her children. In fact often the parents are standing watching both child and dog when the child was bitten. We are beginning to realise that the problem is often not lack of supervision. The problem is no one has taught parents what they should be watching for! And complicating matters further, lots of parents get confused by the good intentions of the child and fail to see when a dog is exhibiting signs of stress.

So here are some things to watch out for:-

• Watch for loose canine body language. Good dog body language is loose, relaxed, and wiggly. Look for curves in your dog’s body when he is around a child. Stiffening and freezing in a dog are not good. If you see your dog tighten his body, or if he moves from panting to holding his breath (he stops panting), you should intervene. These are early signs that your dog is not comfortable.

• Watch for inappropriate human behaviour. Intervene if your child climbs on or attempts to ride on your dog. Intervene if your child pulls the ears, yanks the tail, lifts the jowls or otherwise pokes and prods the dog. Don’t marvel that your dog has the patience of Job if he is willing to tolerate these antics. Be thankful your dog has good bite inhibition and intervene before it’s too late.

• Watch for avoidance behaviours. If your dog moves away from a child, intervene to prevent the child from following the dog. A dog that chooses to move away is making a great choice. He’s saying, “I don’t really want to be bothered, so I’ll go away.” However, when you fail to support his great choice and allow your child to continue to follow him, it’s likely the dog’s next choice will be, “Since I can’t get away, I’ll growl or snap at this kid to get the child to move away.” Please don’t cause your dog to make that choice.

• Listen for growling. Growling is an early warning sign of aggression. Heed it. If growling doesn’t work, the dog may escalate to snapping or biting. Growling is a clue that you should intervene between the dog and the child.
To all of our doggie owners, particularly those who also have children, please watch out for warning signs and keep both your children and dogs safe!

Paterson has a family!



Rocco leaves too!


Last but not least is Djamon.










Happy Ever After For Kaiser

Most of you will remember our excitement a month or so ago when our long timer Kaiser was adopted and will also remember our devastation when he was returned a week later because he chased their cat. Of course we had explained that he wasn’t good with cats but the family were confident that they could cope with this even although they did have a kitten.  So you can imagine our frustration when he was returned a week later!

Maybe this was meant to be because he was no sooner back when a super couple came to meet Kaiser and reserved him on the spot. They understood that he didn’t like cats but as they don’t either it was a match made in heaven. They have spent time enclosing their garden and today Kaiser has left the refuge forever!

This calm sociable boy was a favourite with lots of the volunteers and despite his size was a dream to take for a walk. He happily shared his kennel with many dogs and seemed resigned when they were adopted whilst he remained behind bars but his patience has paid off and he at last has his well-deserved happy ever after.

There were two more adoptions to follow, Sacripan and Star.We were never quite sure what breed Sacripan was, maybe a bit of border collie with a bit of spaniel in there too but one thing that we are sure of is that he is a handsome, friendly boy with the most amazing big paws!  Star is a 6 month old Shepherd cross who arrived at the refuge on Christmas eve with his ‘brother’ Trek. He is lucky not to be spending his adolescence in kennels and I hope that Trek will be adopted soon as well.

For all you lovers of small dogs, 4 of yesterday’s 7 arrivals are small and very, very cute. The owner of these poor dogs has died and with no family who can care for them they were brought to the SPA.  Neige and Colette are youngsters whilst Tim and Charly are 10 and 11 respectively. For small breed dogs this is not old and they are all in great condition so I am sure will be snapped up very quickly. This is just as well as these poor dogs must be confused and bewildered to find themselves at the SPA after having a loving owner to care for them.

Our lovely volunteer Anne Marie has returned to France after a year in the UK and today was her first day back at the refuge. In-between the showers she managed to walk Chiquet, Swiffer and Mabrouk so I hope that she isn’t too tired  tonight!

Kaiser leaves at last!



Sacripan adopted!



Star Adopted too!



Neige is 2 and needs a new home


Colette is only 5 and needs a home



Charly is 10 and needs a home



And Tim is 11


A Home For Willy….After 22 months!

After yesterday’s  sad news of Blanca’s return , today we have wonderful news. Willy our handsome nine year old Shepherd cross has found his forever family after 22 months at the refuge and Foxy who has only been with us a few weeks also left!

Willy was abandoned at the refuge in April 2012 and apart from the fact that he didn’t like other males was a really lovely boy. He was a gentle giant who had great obedience skills and was fine with children so it’s a bit of a mystery why he wasn’t snapped up before now.

Sometimes it’s just meant to be and I am betting that tonight he has already forgotten the SPA and is luxuriating in his new home with his new family.  I am sure that he is thinking that the 22 months wait was well worth it!

It really is news like this that perks up employees and volunteers alike and gives us the inspiration to keep going.

Two years in the refuge is far too long for any dog but we have 8 other dogs available for adoption who have been there longer than Willy. It makes you wonder why no one is choosing to adopt these dogs. They are all lovely dogs who would love a fresh start with a new family, so why are they being passed over?

When you adopt a rescue dog, especially one who has been with us for a while, you will know exactly what you are getting. We know all of our dogs little foibles, we can tell you whether they get on with all dogs or just some, how much exercise they will need, what training they will need and if they can live with children or cats. So before you leave with the dog you already have a pretty good idea of what to expect. We are always honest about our dogs and encourage all of our adopters to consider what they expect from a dog before adoption.

Willy had just left when three year old Foxy was adopted by a super couple who are well know to the SPA. They adopted Buster a handsome black and tan Labrador cross nearly two years ago. Foxy was one of the lucky few dogs who only have weeks rather than years to wait for a home, I wish that they could all be so lucky!

Willy adopted after 22 months!


Foxy, off to live with Buster


Disco – 26 months and still waiting!




Carlo -24 months and still waiting!



Chico – 25 months and still waiting!




The even sadder return of Blanca

I can hardly believe that I am writing this, as I feel that I am in some kind of alternative universe. Blanca was returned to the refuge today. Yes, the couple who adopted her on Saturday (the Saturday that was 3 days ago) have given up on her already.  Blanca is deaf, you may recall. But she is a jack Russell and is too lively for them, and she “needs help that we are not able to give her”.  Moira had spoken to them last night to explain how to deal with some of the issues (squeaky toys are not always a good idea, for example), but they left home at 04H45 this morning, so it was clear that by the time they asked for help, their minds were already made up.

I was unable to speak to them, as I didn’t trust myself not to be angry. Moira dealt with them, and was her usual polite calm self. A great friend of the refuge, Jane, happened to be there, and I overheard her saying a polite version of what I wanted to say. I don’t think they will listen, though, because they know EVERYTHING and it is the dog’s fault, quite clearly.

When I was told by Doglinks that these people were driving from Rheims to collect Blanca, I thought it was a good sign. I thought that anyone prepared to travel that distance would be willing to do whatever it takes to make an adoption work. But perhaps all it meant was that they have too much free time and too much money. I don’t have enough of either, but my dogs are happy and I will do anything to keep them that way. I know Doglinks will be as upset about this as we are, but I have given up trusting my own judgement. Dogs are far more trustworthy than people, in my opinion.

Nothing good happened, except I did get my walk with Dusty. It looks like he hasn’t been walked since being adopted, as he pulled like crazy, but thanks to a magic harness (the Premier Easy Walk, in case anyone is interested), he just trotted alongside me. He didn’t even look too upset to be back at the SPA, to be honest. Not all adoptions are good adoptions. I learned that lesson twice more today.

Oh, by the way, I gave some wrong information in yesterday’s blog. Yemen is the boxer cross’s real name and he is actually micro-chipped. But no one rushed in to reclaim him today.

Quelle surprise!

Blanca.  Back at the SPA after a 1800 km round trip. Oh, the folly of man. 


The sad return of Dusty

First news of the day is that the five dogs arrived safely in the UK. As Moira said in her message to me, it was very impressive, how, despite the fact that they arrived several hours ahead of schedule and well before the place opened, night security staff were there to welcome the dogs and make them comfortable, even though we had no way of warning them of the change of arrival time. Those five dogs are in good hands, believe me!

Back at the SPA, today saw the sad return of Dusty. Like Tayson, that is the fourth time he has been returned to the refuge and each time it is for the same reason. Listen, people, when we tell you that a dog is a runner and needs an enclosed garden, we mean it. Poor Dusty, back again, and probably wondering if he will ever find someone who loves him enough to keep him; someone who already has an enclosed garden or someone who is willing to raise the height of their fence to accommodate this lovely boy. I will go and see him tomorrow, and assuming his vaccinations have been kept up to date, will take him for a walk and try to reassure him that YES, we will find him the right home, one day. He was born in November 2010 and so there is still plenty of time for him. I hope.

A beautiful boxer cross arrived too. We have called him Yemen, although of course we do not know his real name because, surprise surprise, he is not identified.

Better news for Gem, whose owners had already contacted us to say that her IDENTIFIED dog was missing before he even arrived. Responsible ownership! Owner and dog were quickly reunited. I hope the same can be said for the other missing dog whose owner signalled our Facebook page. She is not identified. I hope she is found, but I hope that her owner learns a lesson and pays what is a relatively small amount for a microchip. What is wrong with people that they would rather put themselves through hours of worry and heartache, rather than just get their dogs identified? I know identification does not guarantee that your dog will be found, but it certainly increases the chances.

Although this blog tries to put politics aside, we are definitely in favour of anything that can make animals’ lives better. So please, if you haven’t already done so, could you sign this petition and spread it far and wide. At present  in France legally you can be either a person or a thing, meaning there is no difference in law between the rights of a piece of furniture and those of an animal. This needs to change, and the Foundation 30 Millions d’Amis  is spearheading a campaign to introduce a third category, for living creatures other than humans. You can sign regardless of where you live. Please do so. Together we can make a difference!











New arrival – Yemen (unidentified)








Gem – RECLAIMED (identified)













And Shaina (ex Pippa) would like you to sign the petition, please!


Five (more) dogs leave for a “Pawsitive” Future

So what could possibly happen on a Sunday when the refuge is not having its monthly open day? The departure of five more dogs, that is what!

Of course you remember the appeal that we made for transportation fees for five lucky dogs who have been chosen to go to a fabulous association in the UK. Well, today was the day. Or perhaps better put last night was the night. Or was it morning? In any case, it was a time when most normal people are asleep. But we are not normal!

At 03H00 Moira and I (plus husbands) and Dominique drove to the SPA to meet the dog transporters. We had all eaten together chez moi, and thanks to the wonders of modern technology, were able to live track the wagon as it made its way through Spain. Thus we were able to time our arrival at the SPA to meet them.

All five dogs were loaded up, after papers and microchips had been checked, and we waved goodbye to Charley, Kiko, Galileo, Hood and Mix. We had already had news that all is going well, and with a three man team of drivers, the dogs will be walked every three hours until they arrive at their destination in South East England.

I would like to thank Moira particularly for all her organisation, including visiting the association to chat to them about our dogs and to make sure they had the same basic principles as us (ie no euthanasia and (something that we would love to provide but are unable to), luxury living quarters). Also to Moira (again), Dominique, Viv and Roy for getting up so early (or staying up so late in the case of the guys!). Thanks also to Carole and the SPA employees for making sure all the paperwork was sorted out, and to yesterday’s volunteers, who made sure every dog got a nice long walk before moving to the top kennels to make it easy for us to load them up in the pitch dark this morning.

I am so pleased for all the dogs. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for them, a new country and an association a bit like our great friends at Animal Trust; plenty of walks, house-training and obedience training and an average waiting period pre-adoption of just three weeks.

I wonder who will be the first to leave….

Let us not forget that it was thanks to the recently departed Jim that we were given a route into this well respected association, and the adoption of each of them will be homage to this gentle man who loved animals so much.  I am certain he would be delighted to know that all went well and thanks to him, five dogs are on their way to a better life.

Thanks to everyone who donated towards the travel costs, too. You have been amazingly generous, as ever. The appeal continues, by the way, as transporting the dogs was not cheap. However we wanted them to arrive safely and at a time that suited everyone. I can’t say we were happy about the middle of the night pick up, but in the overall scheme of things, it means little. Early bed for me tonight, though!

Moira and Dominique have a final look at our lucky five, before wagons roll!

Five adoptions!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I was a bit mean last night and left you all on the edge of your seats regarding today’s BIG adoption. So without further ado, the lucky boy was KAWA! He has been with us for 17 months, and has seen several of his kennel mates find new homes. His current (or rather now “ex”) kennel mate was Axel, who arrived as a very bouncy overgrown and ill-mannered puppy, and although it is not something that every dog is capable of, Kawa has been patient and tolerant with him, put him in his place when required and generally made Axel a much nicer dog.

But today was Kawa’s turn, and we wish him well.

He was not the only dog to leave today. We had no fewer than five adoptions in total. Yes, five. It has been a while since I have been able to say that.

Thanks to Doglinks, Blanca found a fabulous home. A couple of dog lovers saw an appeal for this deaf little girl and drove all the way from Rheims to collect her. It was love love love and the huge round trip was worthwhile.

Lovely Georgette, who was abandoned a few weeks ago was adopted by a family who have had their eye on her ever since she arrived. They met her for the first time today, and the adoption was mutual. Happy smiles all round.

Furio found a home, leaving both his sponsor, Audrey in tears, as well as Bond, who is alone yet again.

Then the little puppy, Elena, whose brother Stefan left yesterday found a home of her own. So she didn’t have long to wait after all.

As ever it was not all fun and games. Two new dogs arrived, a lovely beauceron called Pit who is identified, but whose owners are untraceable so far. And just before we closed a Brittany spaniel was brought in, supposedly having been found at the station. How many hunt dogs are found in the centre of town? In any case, this five year old boy has been named Bonnet Red in honour of his Breton roots and believe me he is far better off with us than he was before.

So a good day and another one to come, I promise!

Kawa -ADOPTED after 17 months







Blanca – ADOPTED (pardon?)

2014-02-22 15.36.59







Georgette – ADOPTED













Furio – ADOPTED (here he is with Audrey, his sponsor)

2014-02-22 17.28.51




















New arrival – Pit

2014-02-22 14.10.58







New arrival – Bonnet Red

2014-02-22 16.59.59


Some good news and more to come!

Yesterday’s arrival, Circa, was reunited with her owner today. As soon as her pictures were posted on Facebook, the owner contacted us, saying he had been looking for his dog everywhere. And he arrived at the refuge in double quick time to collect his beloved dog.

When Circa was brought in (by the authorities of the village) we were told that she had been wandering for days.

Local elections are taking place in April and apparently the rounding up of stray dogs is seen as a vote winner. Thus proving that you don’t have to live in a dictatorship or in a city preparing for the Olympics to see examples of how dogs are used for political reasons. Okay, in Carcassonne it is not a question of massacring dogs, although for some SPAs that are overcrowded, it could certainly lead to the death of some animals.

But we are not hear to debate the rights and wrongs of local (or indeed national) politics, rather we are here to tell you the news:

Today saw the adoption of little Stefan. He leaves behind his sister, Elena, who is the last of the Vampire Diaries litter. I hope her chance comes soon; I hate seeing puppies alone in their cages. However now that she has had her second vaccination she can go and play with the other dogs!

There has been so much bad news recently that when Carole told me about a reservation made today, I actually cried. This is not at all my style, it is more a habit of Dominique’s, but I am feeling particularly sensitive at the moment, so I “did a Domi”. Do you want to know who the lucky dog is? I BET you do!

Tell you tomorrow!!!

Stefan – ADOPTED

One in, one out.

Hmmm. Trying to think of good things to say and not coming up with very much.

Zia’s owner came to collect her, which was great, but it was expected to the extent that we hadn’t even bothered making her an album on Facebook. Another dog did arrive, and although she is identified, apparently she has been wandering alone for several days. She was born in 2007, so is not a youngster, but I hope she has not been deliberately abandoned.

We had a new volunteer today and she soon got into the swing of things and she and Moira walked , several dogs. But the nicest thing that happened to me today was taking Mojo out for his first walk. We do not walk dogs out until they have their two vaccinations, and so today was Mojo’s first walk in three whole weeks. I liked the look of him when he arrived (supposedly “found” by a couple of kids, but he was clearly their dog), and today’s walk confirmed to me what a great dog he is.

My other “best bit” was chatting to a young couple who came to donate a kennel and some other items. The woman’s face was familiar, and it turned  out that she is the adopter of Parky, who hardly any of you will remember. He had been at the refuge for over 2 years when he was adopted and he is about to have his fifth birthday. He is immaculately behaved and they love him to bits. They didn’t bring him along, as their vehicle was full of kennel, but have promised to come back to show him off. I wonder if he will remember us?

These little things help to motivate when times are tough, as they are now…..

Circa- New arrival







And Mojo’s first walk