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Latest News

The gifts and kennels keep arriving; unfortunately so do the dogs!

It is perhaps not coincidence that we always have dogs brought in to the SPA the day after every open day. People just assume that we will have lots of room thanks to all the adoptions. Well, guess what? Those days are long gone.

Yesterday one dog was adopted and today three arrived. I am no mathematical genius, but even I can work out what is happening. There are more and more dog at the refuge. Some of the older ones are surely destined to die there of old age. And at this rate the same is probably true of those who are young at present, but whose turn just never seems to come. And with people failing to sterilise their animals and giving away puppies on the internet and others encouraging them to do so, with the promise that they will home their unwanted puppies, things will only get worse.

Volunteering (and indeed working) in a dog refuge has got to be one of the most masochistic past times on the planet. The strain of trying to look on the bright side and carry on doing our best to find homes for our animals when every step we take is negated by other people’s actions is soul-destroying. My mum used to say that it is like banging your head against a brick wall; it feels nice when you stop. But of course stopping is not that easy, when lives literally depend on us.

Animal lovers show solidarity, of course, and today two new kennels were delivered, as well as packages of Christmas goodies for the dogs and cats. Thank you so much to the generous people who do their best to brighten the lives of our animals and keep them warm. Tonight as I see my four dogs curled up in their baskets I want to weep for the dogs at the refuge, many of whom will probably never know this comfort again.

New arrival – Bubble
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New arrival – Mabrouk
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Ugo and Uta- Abandoned at age 8, in the SPA for over 2 years and probably destined to die there.

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Inuit adopts a family

Well, as many of you know, today, it being the first Sunday of the month, the SPA was open. And despite it not being our official Christmas for the Animals (which is the weekend of 14th and 15th December), it did feel a bit Christmassy today.

There were gifts aplenty for both dogs and cats. Thank you all so much! Beds, blankets, treats, and food arrived throughout the afternoon, and so many dogs were walked that my camera was kept constantly busy. And the treats were not just destined for the animals, Jane brought along some flapjacks, which proved very popular with volunteers and visitors alike, despite initial worries that they would not taste good as they looked a bit “healthy”. We Brits know better!

Thank you to everyone who came along to support us today.

We had one reservation but more importantly an adoption. Inuit has been courting his eventual adopters for several weeks, and finally today he gave them no choice but to take him home! When he saw them approaching his kennel he howled (well, he is part husky!) and as ever, he was immaculately behaved on his walk. They decided to reserve him and left the refuge only to reappear five minutes later with the words “Why the heck not take him today”.

So that is one more in the warm. None of us can take credit for this adoption; Inuit did all the work himself!

The volunteers made more plans for the Noel des Animaux in two weeks’ time, and we will also be present at the Magie de Noel at the Cite next weekend. Feel free to come and say hi to us and some of our dogs outside the theatre on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons!

Rookie came to see us. He is 13 and a half and his mum makes great flapjacks!

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Inuit leaves with the family he adopted!

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Arrivals, departures and visits!.

Firstly and as expected, Dylan was brought back to the refuge. On his contract of abandonment the couple stated that this puppy is affectionate and playful, but that he is TOO playful with their other dog and they have old cats. It then says “We were told that he is house-trained, but he is not!. Hmmm. Bit annoying. For one thing Lisa would never have said this, as she knows he is a young pup who still has “accidents”,  but also when you think of the recent disruption in this dog’s life, it is understandable that he should not be clean straight away. Still, he didn’t seem unhappy to be back with Lisa and Andrew, and we will make sure Dylan gets the prefect home next time.

Three other dogs were brought in; one a rough haired teckel, and two dogs from Limoux, a nearby village which is becoming the bain of our life, for reasons I won’t go into. So that is the bad news over.

In terms of good news, we had two adoptions and one dog made a guest appearance of about five minutes. He has been notified as being missing earlier in the day and was already micro-chipped, so the two volunteers who had found him and brought him in just took him straight back to his owners. Lucky Moka!

The two dogs who left us were Magix, who had only just completed his 10 days legal delay, and lovely Fripon, who was abandoned exactly a week ago. So two new arrivals have left. It is a shame for the dogs who have been waiting hopefully for so long, but as I said to the family who took Fripon, you need to take the dog that is right for you, and not adopt a dog out of pity.

We also had visits from two ex SPA dogs, Megan who has recently been adopted by her foster family, Veronique (our Tweeter!) and Andrew, and Titou, who was adopted 18 months ago by long term supporter Yvette.

And don’t forget that tomorrow is the first Sunday of the month, so the refuge will be open! Why not come and see us!

Dylan- pleased to be back, but needs a GOOD home
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Magix -Adopted

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Fripon -Adopted
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Megan visits

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So does Titou

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And Moka pops in and is delivered home thanks to his micro-chip

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Happiness and frustration…..

Today has brought both happiness and frustration, as is often the case at the SPA. Happiness came in the form of the adoption of Guizma, or “Little Miss Big Ears” as I like to call her for reasons unknown (?). Great news for this puppy who was found and brought in earlier this month. Another one in the warm.

Snoopy, a lovely but aging setter was reclaimed, which was a relief, as at nearly 13, he would have been the oldest dog at the SPA.

We also received some lovely photos of Badens, who thanks to Orphee, has found his forever home after having waited so long at the SPA. Amazing what a foster family can do, isn’t it? They can assess a dog’s character and make sure he goes to the right home, and can warn the future owners of any problem areas.

Ironically today’s main frustration has come from a fostering situation. Remember little Dylan who was adopted one week ago today, having spent 3 months with vet nurse Lisa? Well, his new owners are claiming that they were “badly advised” in taking him. Lisa is devastated. Dylan was living with her dogs and cats just fine, and of course in a new environment there are bound to be a few teething troubles. One week is an unreasonable time frame to allow a dog to settle, but unfortunately Dylan’s adopters are unwilling to take any advice as to how to overcome the issues, which are actually relatively minor.

Worst still, Lisa is wondering if she will ever be able to foster again, as, like me, she found this couple very likeable. She wonders now if she can trust her own judgement.

I think the message here is that if you have a perfect existence and are not prepared for anything that may upset it in any way, please don’t adopt a puppy. Or any dog, in fact. Dogs (and indeed cats) are living creatures who should not be cast off on a whim. Sensible, considered choices need to be made, and this is especially the case around this time of year, when children may be demanding puppies and kittens for Christmas.

We are trying to find a home for Dylan urgently, so please get in touch if you can help. He is currently in Pau. We do not like to think of him being with a family who does not love him, after being loved so much by Lisa and Andrew.

Little Miss Big Ears – Adopted!
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12 year old Snoopy- Reclaimed

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Badens’ new life begins properly! Thanks to Association Orphee!

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Poor Dylan- rejected after one week.

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Matit is adopted, Igloo arrives and kennels are installed.

Maybe some of you will have seen the photograph on the Facebook page last night, of the new kennels all lined up. These were bought thanks to your donations, and in fact the two XXL kennels arrived thanks to Deborah, a generous supporter who adopted a dog from us way back in the “bad old days”. Thanks so much to you all.

Today we put the kennels into the enclosures and although I was unable to take a photo of a dog inside one (he was too busy trying to give me licks), you can see how much difference these will make. Compare the lovely kennel to the plastic basket, which is still the only protection for many of our dogs. More are needed so if you would like to help out, please get in touch!

Another motivating site was that of the newly erected Xmas tree, which is gradually filling up with bauble-filled treats for our dogs and cats. Carole and Isabelle amongst others have been working hard, and our aim in to have a bauble for every single animal at the SPA. Again please get in touch for more information on how to get yours. And yes, you can buy them for your own animals, of course!

We were joined by a new volunteer today, which is always good. However to misquote George Orwell, all volunteers are equal, but some are more equal than others. Rosa is a real catch. She is a passionate dog lover who has volunteered in refuges all over the world and, better still, is completely bilingual, having been brought up in France with English parents. The only downside is that she lives in Toulouse so will “only” be able to join us once a week. Are you asking the obvious question (as I did), why doesn’t Rosa volunteer at the SPA Toulouse? Well, she did contact them, but they said they had too many volunteers already, so no thanks. Their loss is our gain. I can feel some guest blogs coming on!

In refuge news, two dogs arrived; Snoopy, an English setter who is identified, and a dog found in Quillan who is not. We have called him Igloo and he is young and beautiful and despite his name, I hope he is the warmth of someone’s home soon. If his owner fails to collect him, that is.

Lucky puppy Matit was adopted, leaving just one of the Egyptian puppies, Khensit, behind. There are still lots of pups of all shapes and sizes still waiting for their homes, of course, including the two 2-month old beauceron crosses, Chuppa and Chups, who were brought in yesterday.

One of the new kennels in situ. Where would YOU prefer to sleep? 
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The small tree is filling up. We have a big one, too! Let’s fill them both!

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Matit is adopted

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And “Igloo” arrives.

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Three dogs leave, but 5 arrive.

Well, as you will have gathered from yesterday’s blog, we at the SPA were in much need of good news and today we have some. Not enough to balance the scales, which are still very much down on the side of sadness. But another three dogs are in the warm tonight, and one is another example of a genuine save.

On 5th of November much of my blog was dedicated to a dog called Vico, aka Baby Eddy. Some of you may recall that this dog arrived at the refuge only to develop an extremely violent gastro. This resulted in his nearly dying. I was not the only one to have sleepless nights about his condition and I was one of many people who cradled this dog in their arms while he was under transfusion at the refuge.

Sometimes a dog needs to be given the will to live; they feel so bad that they almost wish themselves to die. It was our job to convince this dog by our touch and gentle words that things would get better and that it was worth surviving. Eddy did pull through, but then all we could offer him was a kennel in the cold. He was probably wondering why we had bothered keeping him alive!

Anyway, before you could even say “urgent appeal of the week”, Eddy has been adopted! Better still it was by the woman who had brought him in to us. She had found him outside a government building and had planned on adopting him when she moved house had he not already been chosen. She was unaware of his near-death experience (his illness was still in the incubation phase when he arrived at the SPA), and as soon as she heard (thanks to volunteer Benedicte), she came to collect him.

I didn’t go to say goodbye, as I would have cried. For joy this time.

In addition one of our recent arrivals found his owner, and one of our pups, Satis, was adopted. On the negative side, 5 more puppies arrived from two different litters. It is one step forward and two steps back, right now, but we keep going. No idea how, so thanks to all of you who sent messages and photos today to motivate what is a very down-hearted group of people.

Tonight I wanted to publicise again the upcoming silent auction which is taking place on 6th December at Puivert and thank Anglo-Info for featuring out advert on their main page.

http://languedoc.angloinfo.com/classifieds/viewfeatured/329039/spa-twilight-auction

Baby Eddy (Vico). Lucky to be alive
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Satis is adopted

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And Angus finds his owner

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My cup (of misery) runneth over

Tonight I left the refuge in tears for the first time in a long time. They were not tears of joy either (although our last dog adoption seems so long ago that I have forgotten that feeling in any case). These were tears of frustration; frustration and sadness. Frustration at the selfishness and stupidity of some people, and sadness at the state of the world and man’s relationship with the animals he shares it with.

First up was the abandonment of Tayson. He had been adopted on June 21st after over a year in the refuge. Photos of him followed, gaily posted onto our Facebook page, Tayson at the beach, wearing sunglasses, “best dog in the world” etc etc. Then a phone call on Saturday telling us that he had become over-protective with his mistress, and our strategies for coping with this seemed a bit like hard work, so back he came. They gave us his documents and we were shocked to see that their vet had put this lovely dog on Prozac. Maybe it is just as well he is back in that case, but the look of bewilderment on his face was clear. He was just being a dog. What should he do differently next time?

Next came a phone call from a well-wisher. Had we sanctioned the dodgy-looking calendars that were on sale at La Cite, Carcassonne’s most famous tourist attraction. The answer was no, and so the police went to arrest the people, who were swindling the public.

I won’t go into what is going on politically/financially, as the story has only just begun, but all I can say if that if you think we are taking this lying down, you better think again. And no, I am not talking about the calendars here! That is chicken feed in comparison to what I am referring to.

And to end a perfect afternoon, the SPA was once again treated as a dustbin by someone who had had an unwanted litter and who simply couldn’t keep the puppies due to their child’s allergy to dogs. Yeah, pull the other one, it has got bells on it.

I don’t know where to go from here. I am going to concentrate on organising a dog delivery that I am making next week (hopefully with a friend) and see if that distracts me from the misery that seems to surround me and the SPA right now.

Tayson. “But what did I do wrong?”

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Hoping for a miracle.

Today has been very mixed. I was elated yesterday after the SPA Facebook appeal for kennels resulted in some incredibly generous offers. My faith in humankind was restored and I went to bed feeling upbeat, especially after having read Moira’s lovely blog about the happy dogs she has been visiting in Scotland.

All was right in my world, or as all right as it can be, when there are 130 dogs still waiting for homes at the refuge.

But today has been a bit of a disaster. Scotch was not well and an emergency visit to the vet revealed that he is probably diabetic. Lisa tells me that the symptoms of diabetes are also seen in recently traumatised dogs. Scotch was found with a nasty injury, and, as Lisa tells me, stress and injuries can raise blood glucose and make ketones/glucose present in urine, especially if a dog hasn’t eaten well for a while. So more tests to be done, but it just seems so unfair that this little dog, who was already going to be hard to home, (he has a metal plate and 7 screws in his leg), now has an additional handicap. And one that will cost money and require daily treatment.

Scotch has his check up on 7th December and after that we will be looking for a very special home for him. A foster home near Carcassonne or someone with a reliable vet. If anyone has any ideas I am all ears! There are even talks of a trust fund being set up for him!

My fellow dog lovers have been trying to cheer me up (thanks all), but I am not feeling exactly perky tonight.

I popped out to collect a package which had arrived from the UK, and I want to thank Elaine for all the toys treats and towels she sent over for the dogs and cats. Christmas has come early!

There was an arrival at the refuge, a dog who was identified, but his registered owner “gave him away ages ago and has no idea who to”. So that will be an abandoned dog, then.

This has all reinforced by long-held belief that the world is divided into two types of people; those like (presumably all of us), who turn our lives inside out to help animals, and the rest who just don’t care. This second group just pass dogs on willy-nilly, breed dogs to make a bit of extra cash and do not care if they end up in the SPA or dead on a road. And with Christmas approaching the pet stores are full of tiny pups, all huddling together. Do not buy them, you just encourage the puppy farms, which is where by far the majority of them will have come from. There are puppies in every refuge in France, adopt one of them instead!

So tonight I leave you with three images, one that will make you laugh (thanks Rebecca) and one that is very moving, despite being a drawing. The third is of lovely Scotch, who is going to need a miracle to help him find a home. But as we know, miracles do happen……

Holy Dog Rescue, Batman!

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The sad reality for many a pet-store pup

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And Scotch. He needs a miracle.

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Settled in Scotland..

I am writing this blog from Scotland and from what I hear its much warmer than the South of France this week! Now you probably suspect I am spending my days lunching and shopping but although there has been quite a bit of that I have also been visiting our Scottish doggies, so in tonight’s blog we will follow their progress and look at the up and downs of taking on a rescue dog.

The first is of course Melba, who is my grand doggy! Melba was first adopted from the SPA when she was a pup but abandoned as a boisterous youngster. She spent several months waiting patiently at the SPA until Stuart and Juliette, my son and daughter in law, spotted her on our website.  I hadn’t thought to Melba to them as they were definitely looking for a border collie but like lots of people, sometimes you just see a dog and decide that is the one. Melba travelled to Scotland with me in August and then the real fun began! Like lots of refuge dogs Melba was not house-trained so that was the first hurdle, this was easy to manage when they were in the house  but as they both work during the day it did mean that the mop and bucket was required when they got back in! When left alone Melba howled, luckily there are no neighbours to disturb but getting a  doggy walker has been indispensable in breaking up her morning and a friend with a spaniel pops in during the afternoon,  so she now settles well and they come home to a clean house. Although Stuart had grown up with dogs Melba was signed up for doggy classes where she could meet and play with other dogs and learn the basics in doggy behaviour. She now sits, stays in a down until released and runs free, coming back to her whistle. I remember a phone call with Stuart a couple of weeks after they got Melba and he said ‘this dog training is really hard work, mum’…yes it is, but its well worth the effort! Seeing Melba run free, racing over the hills and sand dunes this week was magnificent!  Melba spends the weekends on the hills and has already ‘bagged’ more Munro’s than I have! They now have a well-adjusted, happy girl who is an absolute delight to own and it all can’t have been too bad as they are now looking for a playmate for Melba so are avidly watching our arrivals! I wonder who it will be?

The next visit was with Maddie (ex Malaga). When this little girl arrived at the SPA with a neck wound and absolutely terrified, little did she know that she would not have too long to wait!  Elinor and Dave a Scottish couple, have a holiday house in France and spend the summers here so after spotting Maddie’s photo on our website, took the opportunity to pop along and meet her. I remember them arriving at the refuge on a scorching August day and me having to carry Maddie into one of the parks she was so scared she just wouldn’t walk on the lead. It takes someone with a big heart and a lot of doggy experience to see past a dogs initial timidness but Elinor and Dave sat in the shade and just waited patiently until Maddie approached them. They were undaunted by her behaviour and reserved her on the spot! Maddie then travelled to Scotland with my hubby and there her real life began. Eiinor already has two Basset Fauve de Bretagne’s who soon showed Maddie the ropes and it certainly didn’t take her long to appreciate home comforts. Like Melba she too had to be house-trained but as Dave works from home she came on in leaps and bounds!  Maddie too has started doggy school to improve her confidence with strangers and to improve her recall. When we visited last Sunday I could not believe the difference in Maddie, there was no sign of the scared, anxious dog that left France, all I could see was a happy, bouncy confident girl who raced around playing with the other dogs. So Maddie has gone from being a neglected hunting dog in France to a much loved family dog in Scotland. I wish all of our hounds could be so lucky!

It was a stunning morning when I drove to Cruden Bay yesterday to visit Garfield and Eclat. The sun was shining and the two hour drive up the east coast of Scotland was simply beautiful. Angie was a bit worried that Garfield wouldn’t be at his best for my visit as he was just back from the vets after being castrated. She needn’t have worried for he certainly recognised me giving me a fantastic welcome! I am so proud how well this young boy has done, adapting to life in a busy household with a 4 year old, a 15 month old  and two Burmese cats! This is down to Angies sensible approach to how children, dogs and other animals can live in harmony. Garfield is still pulling a bit on the leash and can be distracted when off leash which is not unusual for a rescue dog so he too is off to doggy school. I bet in six months’ time he will be trotting along to heel and racing back when called, for there is one thing no one can deny, Garfield is a very, very clever dog! Garfield has gone from a boisterous out of control youngster to a lively, happy family dog who settled after a few minutes of me being in the house. I never care about young dogs going daft when I visit and I know not everyone likes dogs to be too enthusiastic with their welcome but each to their own and I love it!

Last but not least was my visit to Angies mums house to see Eclat. My goodness, this elderly spaniel who was chased out of two French villages before being brought to the SPA has truly fallen on all four paws. Eclat has a lovely walled garden which looks onto a North Sea estuary with sand dunes and miles of deserted beaches. He walks to heel when on leash but runs free daily on his walks. I had a lovely walk with him and couldn’t believe how well-behaved he was, racing over the beach but keeping a careful eye on us all the time! Angies mum only moved into that house the weekend of Eclat’s arrival so it was a new start for both of them. Eclat has helped her meet new friends as everyone wants to hear the story of how this lovely Brittany spaniel arrived in Scotland and he is also a great companion for her in her new house. With six young grandchildren Angies house is often chaotic but Eclat is always the perfect gentleman and loves all the attention! He is a great example of how one of our elderly, calmer dogs can go to a new family without any transition problems whatsoever!

So four months on we have four happy dogs in families who cant imagine life without them…well done to these families for taking a rescue dog and transforming its life!  We now really do have dogs all over the UK and this time next month there will be three more, one in England and two in Wales…our SPA dogs are cosmopolitans, they can and do  travel anywhere!

Melba on Lochnagar, a 20 km walk!

Melbas munro

And afterwards a marrow bone and a sleep alongside Milly the cat (also from the SPA of course!)

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Maddie, all ready for doggy school.

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Garfield, not long back from the vets.

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Eclat, racing back to his mum!

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Nothing much at the SPA, but good news from afar!

Despite yesterday’s relatively positive start to the weekend today was a complete washout both in the figurative and literal sense of the word. No adoptions at all and plenty of rain. But on the other hand only one arrival, a pre-booked abandonment of a yellow lab who “runs away”. Honestly, how anyone can abandon an animal in this weather is completely beyond me. In fact in any weather at all, but particularly when it is dank and wet. I suppose that not everybody loves dogs the way we all do.

There were the usual loyal group of volunteers, plus a couple of old friends popped by to walk dogs. But really it was not an ideal day, as the rain never really held off for long. Thanks to the team who spent the afternoon sorting out the blankets, and others who braved the cold with the few lucky dogs who did go “walkies”.

An English woman came to adopt a cat, and, recognising the name of the village where she lives, I asked if she knew of any SPA dogs who lived there. We finally worked it out, so I had news, after over three years, of one of the very first dogs that I homed, back when I was still finding my feet at the SPA. Missy (she was called Lady at the SPA) was adopted on September 11th 2010, and the reason I remember the date is that it was my birthday and I said at the time that the adoption of this fabulous dog was the best present I could ever have. I am hoping that photos may arrive. Another of my favourites!

So nothing very positive from the SPA. But you never know when good news will arrive and from where. Whilst writing this my blog my message icon popped up. I have just heard from Association Orphee that Badens has been reserved and will join his forever family next week.

So it has been a good day after all! See, I am thinking positive!

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