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Our wonderful volunteers strike again!

gibusNo more arrivals today, I am relieved to say, but no departures either. Well, not permanent ones. One  of the things that keeps me going when times are rough, is the devotion of the other volunteers. In fact when I say volunteers, quite often I mentally include the employees, several of whom were volunteers before being offered a paid post at the refuge. After all, not only had they already proved their devotion to animals by giving their free time to the refuge, they already knew how things work, so there was no need for extensive training.
Several of our volunteers take puppies and kittens home until they have their 2 vaccinations, or just to help with training and socialisation. Other volunteers see a dog in need and offer to foster them, too. On Tuesday little Benson went home to be fattened up, yesterday Megan (she of the staple gun attack) left for some R+R, and today Snoopy the dalmatian left with one of our ex-volunteers/now employees. What is most remarkable about that is that she had a baby boy 3 weeks ago, also has a 3 year old daughter plus 3 dogs and the same number of cats. So when I say that the SPA Carcassonne has the best team of volunteers of any refuge, you will know why!
In other news the last remaining puppy, from the “flower” litter, Magnolia, has been reserved, and today she met her new big brother, Gibus, who also left the SPA as a puppy (but spent his pre-adoption time with yet another family of volunteers!) Here is a photo of him today; some of you may remember him from when he was little!
Can I just also add a PS: Like everyone who works in animal rescue, I am incredibly busy. Please can you decide whether you do actually want to adopt a dog (and have the permission of your children if required) before making me spend my precious time jumping through hoops answering your questions. I have little enough free time as it is. À bon entendeur salut, as they say in these parts!

Our wonderful volunteers strike again!

No more arrivals today, I am relieved to say, but no departures either. Well, not permanent ones. One  of the things that keeps me going when times are rough, is the devotion of the other volunteers. In fact when I say volunteers, quite often I mentally include the employees, several of whom were volunteers before being offered a paid post at the refuge. After all, not only had they already proved their devotion to animals by giving their free time to the refuge, they already knew how things work, so there was no need for extensive training.
Several of our volunteers take puppies and kittens home until they have their 2 vaccinations, or just to help with training and socialisation. Other volunteers see a dog in need and offer to foster them, too. On Tuesday little Benson went home to be fattened up, yesterday Megan (she of the staple gun attack) left for some R+R, and today Snoopy the dalmatian left with one of our ex-volunteers/now employees. What is most remarkable about that is that she had a baby boy 3 weeks ago, also has a 3 year old daughter plus 3 dogs and the same number of cats. So when I say that the SPA Carcassonne has the best team of volunteers of any refuge, you will know why!
In other news the last remaining puppy, from the “flower” litter, Magnolia, has been reserved, and today she met her new big brother, Gibus, who also left the SPA as a puppy (but spent his pre-adoption time with yet another family of volunteers!) Here is a photo of him today; some of you may remember him from when he was little!
Can I just also add a PS: Like everyone who works in animal rescue, I am incredibly busy. Please can you decide whether you do actually want to adopt a dog (and have the permission of your children if required) before making me spend my precious time jumping through hoops answering your questions. I have little enough free time as it is. À bon entendeur salut, as they say in these parts!

Gibus
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More arrivals; it must be the holiday season!

How do you know when it is holiday time in France? Because loads of dogs arrive at the refuges, of course! Yesterday we were shut, but 6 dogs still managed to arrive, and a further 5 today. Where are we expected to put them all? Well, clearly that is our problem; the people who dump them all clearly don’t care a jot.
The only person with whom I have any sympathy is the owner of Snoopy, a beautiful dalmatian, who was brought in today. The poor woman has a terminal illness and is unable to look after her dog. She was clearly very ill, and in my opinion this is why the SPA exists, to accept dogs whose owners have a genuine reason for giving them up, not just a change of heart. In any case, Snoopy should find a home easily, as despite being 7 years old, Snoopy is fine with all other dogs and cats. And I know there are lots of fans of this breed out there!

It was not all bad news today, as apart from one of the new arrivals whose owner came to get him, there was actually an adoption. Little Ed, has been renamed Elliot, and gone to a lovely new home. The last Elliot we had at the refuge was a magnificent rottweiler. As someone pointed out, the colours are the same, but there is about a 50kg difference in weight between the two!

Snoopy arrives

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Ed (Elliott ) leaves

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Ball of Fluff on a Piece of String

Today the refuge was shut to the public as it was international workers’ day, so what better way to celebrate than by not working? Of course cleaning and feeding took place as usual but the dogs spent the afternoon asleep in some long-awaited sunshine.
This lack of activity gives me the chance to tell you about another of yesterday’s arrivals.
Meet Benson, everyone. He is a Coton de Tulear who was born in September 2010. His owner has been hospitalised, and Benson was left alone without food and water for 3 days until someone came to rescue him and bring him to us. Luckily for Benson, two of our lovely volunteers took him home to feed him up, so he is being well looked after while he is recovering from his ordeal.
Benson is a tiny dog. Okay, he is underweight right now, but he is never going to be much of a guard dog. Great as a lap warmer, though! 
Benson is fine with other dogs and is house-trained. The perfect dog, if you don’t mind walking a ball of fluff on the end of a piece of string! He is likely to find a home very quickly, so if you are interested don’t hesitate to get in touch, either via our Facebook page www.facebook.com/SPA.CARCASSONNE or via the contacts page on my website http://www.dogrescuecarcassonne.co.uk/

Benson at the refuge and in his foster home (below)Image
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Three out, three in! And maybe a fourth of a non-canine variety!

Had some nice, not to say surprising, events today. A lovely French family came along to volunteer dog walk; I had the feeling that they were on the look out for a dog, but wanted to start off slowly. In any case, I had just been to the infirmary to visit with Sylphide and Sveltesse (you know I have a soft spot for those two), and I suggested that they take Sylphide out for a walk. They came back having fallen in love. All our females have to be sterilised before leaving the refuge, and Sylphide is far too thin to undergo an operation, so the family have taken her home to fatten her up. Once she has been sterilised the adoption will be finalised! Fabulous news for her, although I feel sorry for Sveltesse, who is now all alone in the infirmary. Maybe her chance will come soon. Who knows?
In other news, our little wire haired teckel left, as did the lovely Greta (now called Lily Blue). Here is a picture of her looking a bit sleepy (post sterilisation), but wearing her brand new collar!
Three dogs were brought in, and I can’t help wondering if it is due to the bank holiday tomorrow. Free kenneling  perhaps? One girl, Megan, is in a particularly sorry state, and seems to have undergone a bit of home surgery; either that or someone has been practising how to use a staple gun. Grrrr. We are not looking for her owners as French law being what it is, rather than being prosecuted for cruelty, they will probably get the dog back! She is a lovely (though terrified) sharpei, so she will find a new owner and lots of love while she is waiting.
Oh, and just as we were closing the Police phoned to tell us that they were bringing us a goat. As I say, you just never know what each day will bring!

Lily Blue with her Netherlands Orange Collar
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Megan, new arrival, complete with staples.

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Death Sentence; What Death Sentence?

Well, after the sadness of yesterday’s post, here is something to cheer us all up.This story dates back over 2 years. At the time the SPA was a very different place. We had no internet sites, no Facebook and very few volunteers. Dogs were put down on a regular basis due to lack of space. It was extremely difficult to keep going as heartbreak was the norm. There were not many volunteers, as the refuge was not a place for the fainthearted. I often returned home in tears.
A few of us long-term volunteers can remember as far back as Alex. He was a magnificent English Setter who was found and brought into the SPA; identified but owners untraceable. It soon became clear that Alex had leishmaniasis. The (former) SPA vet says it was a matter of weeks before Alex would die as his liver was affected, and nothing could be done. “That may be the case”, said the wonderful Evelyn from Doglinks, “but Alex does not have to spend his final days in the SPA”. So rather than being taken on a one-way journey to the vet, Alex moved to a family home. That was 2 years and 3 months ago, and here he is, looking happy and healthy with one of his sisters, Tarka.
So as well as saying thank you again to Evelyn (who is a huge supporter of this and other refuges), I want to highlight to you two things. Or three, maybe.
First, don’t turn your back on a sick dog. In the right environment  and with lots of love, almost any dog can flourish.
Second, if you have dogs, read about leishmaniasis. It is spreading northwards through France and once your dog has it, he has it for life (although if caught early enough a dog can lead a normal life with treatment that is not budget-busting)
And (yes) thirdly, buy your dog(s) a Scalibor collar. This protects them from being bitten by the sandfly which is the sole vector for this uncurable disease. A vaccine is being developed, but it is only about 60% effective, whereas a scalibor is 100% (provided it is renewed regularly, about every 5 months). The refuge tries to put Scalibors on as many dogs as possible, most of them are donated by well-wishers under our sponsoring scheme. 
It has been a long time since we have had a case of leishmaniasis at the refuge, and we are determined to keep it that way! Make sure you protect your dogs, too, and stop this horrid disease from spreading!

Here is the beautiful and incredible lucky Alex, busy defying the odds! 
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The Return of Swiffer

I am not famed for being nice to people who abandon their dogs. In fact sometimes when people come to the refuge to bring their dogs back, I have to leave the office for fear of speaking my mind. However a dog was brought back to the refuge yesterday, and, as the owners were English, I had to deal with them. 
This couple had phoned up to tell us they needed to bring their dog back a couple of weeks ago and we agreed upon a date (that way we can make sure we have a place free). In any case, yesterday was the day, and Swiffer was brought back. I was all prepared to be angry, but honestly I just couldn’t be. 
Swiffer was adopted from us 6 months ago, and I was aware that there had been some initial problems, but having heard nothing for five and a half months, I assumed all was well. Swiffer was adopted together with his kennel mate at the SPA. The two had got on fabulously whilst at the refuge, no fights, not even during feeding time. However once out of the refuge it was another thing entirely. Swiffer didn’t want to share his new mum and dad’s attention and started attacking poor Whisky. Unbeknownst to me, this has been going on ever since. I had no idea. I asked the couple why they had not asked for help, and they explained that they didn’t want to bother me, as they know I am busy, and they don’t speak any French so couldn’t go to dog training school.

We have 2 qualified dog trainers on our paid staff, and numerous volunteers who could have helped, but sadly it was too late.I just couldn’t be angry; the couple were so upset at leaving Swiffer, whom they felt they had let down. 

Swiffer is now nine years old and will not be easy to home. I have arranged for him to be castrated, so that even if he doesn’t find a home, he can share his box with a girl and that will stop him being lonely.
All this to say that please ask for help if you have a problem with a dog. There won’t be a question we haven’t heard before and it is much better to ask for help than feel out of your depth and alone, as this couple clearly did. 
Swiffer is a lovely dog who deserves a second chance. His former owners don’t have internet, but I would love to be able to tell them by telephone one day that Swiffer has a new home.ImageImage

I escape from the Refuge!

The weather wasn’t great today, which meant the refuge wasn’t as busy as it can be. Believe it or not the puppy who was abandoned yesterday was re-adopted today (don’t worry; not by the same people), so he is now officially very confused. This time we are pretty confident, but we have been wrong before.
I made the most of the lack of visitors to actually take a couple of dogs out for walks. Usually I just see them on the refuge or in the parks. I accompanied another volunteer as we walked Solo and Greta (soon to be Lily) and then I had a lovely walk with Sylphide, who is really starting to steal my heart. Her “sister”, Sveltesse, another favourite of mine, was in the infirmary recovering from her op, and I couldn’t bear Sylphide being alone  in her box. So I put her in the infirmary and she will stay there until she has put on a bit of weight. It will be good for her to see more people, too, and as you can see from the photos, both dogs are less nervous than they were the day of their arrival. 
One poor dog arrived, and I will write more about him tomorrow. We will have our work cut out to home him, as he is nine years old, but we have been lucky before!

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Same number of pups, just different ones!

I have spent most of the day planning for and panicking about this evening’s annual general assembly. Happily it is now over and I am about to reward myself with a small glass of something nice. It is not the public speaking that bothers me, not even the public speaking in French, it is more the fact that not everyone agrees with everything, and sometimes democracy can be a pain. However the good guys won this evening, and we even have a couple new members of the inner counsel to reinforce the new politics of refuge; no to euthanasia and yes to sterilisation!
A couple of the employees were at the meeting, so I caught up with refuge news. Unlike last Friday when 9 dogs were brought in, today we had just one arrival; a puppy that was adopted 2 weeks ago. Guess what? This 10 week old puppy is not house-trained. How dare he! Sigh.
To counter that, one of his brothers was adopted, so there are still 2 puppies in the cat house. I wonder what they make of it all? Presumably, like me, they find humans a bit strange!
Still, onward and upward!
Magnolia out
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Nenaphur back in

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Incredible News!

Some days I wonder what should be the subject of my blog. Would you rather read about a lovely new arrival, or see a picture of a happy dog leaving, or in his new home? Well today there is no contest. 
First thing this afternoon we received a phone call. Someone had lost their dog six months ago, and had just seen a dog that looks similar on our site. They said they could not make it in until tomorrow, but in fact they were so excited at the prospect of finding their dog, that they arrived almost straight away.
And the lucky dog was…..GAMIN! 
He had been brought into us in October having been badly injured by a wild boar, and so when the family came to look for him (cos they DID), he was in the infirmary. They had just about given up hope of finding him, as six months is a long time, and he was not micro chipped (he is now, of course.)
Actually they were lucky he was still there, as the wonderful people at Levriers and Company had their eye on him at one stage. As it is, Gamin (real name Vulcan) is back with his family (including two children; we always knew he was good with kids!). Big smiles all round! Just goes to show, you never know what is going to happen next at the SPA. 

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