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Cologne’s Chasse Days Are Over!

September means the start of the hunting season in France, or la chasse, and it can be quite a shock to see a group of hunters heading past your house.

Each Sunday you will see the countryside dotted with vans and cars and will hear the distinctive howl of hounds as they flush out or chase the game. You are sure to cross a group of hunters heading off into the woods with guns slung over their shoulders so if you are out walking its wise to wear bright clothing.  I would strongly advise keeping your dogs on the leash, one in case they are ‘accidentally’ shot and two because the hunt dogs have on many occasion swarmed my dogs and some dogs could find this very intimidating. You would think that the hunters would have trained dogs so could simply call their dogs away, not a chance! Most chasse dogs are hunting by instinct alone and have had no or little training!

So it is no great surprise that when the dogs are following their instinct, lots get themselves lost and that is why we at the SPA dread this season. We will soon be inundated with hunt dogs, who have only known life in kennels and are fearful of humans and often other dogs! We still have dogs waiting on homes that arrived about this time last year and a year is far too long to spend at the SPA! All chasse dogs should be identified but very few are, as this legislation, like lots of legislation regarding the chasse in France is not enforced. This unfortunately makes it very easy for the hunters to abandon dogs who aren’t good hunters, who are too old or are hurt and need vet treatment. The SPA of course is expected bear the brunt of their irresponsibility!

Cologne is one dog who will never have to hunt again. She arrived at the SPA in March this year, at the end of the hunting season, abandoned with her sister Bonn. Bonn was quickly adopted and today at last Cologne is leaving for a life where she doesn’t have to work for her dinner.  Instead of life in a kennel or shed , regular food and home comforts await her as well as lovely playmate for company.  This will be bliss for Cologne who was underweight and bedraggled when she arrived, I wish all of our chasse dogs could be so lucky!

Cologne – Adopted Today

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Molly who is still waiting!

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Gaspard still needs a home!

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Three Dog Thursday!

The sun was shining, and the volunteers were out in force! Loads of dogs were walked today, we had some newbies along, who were getting to grips with how things work, and plenty of old hands returning after the summer holidays, when other commitments can get in the way.

Bench finally got the bath he has been needing so badly and went to dry off in the park with his girlfriend, Occitane (don’t worry, there is no monkey business, as Bench has been castrated)

Three adoptions took place. The first was another of the Cocktail litter, little Mojito. I was asked to get him from his box, and I was expecting it to be relatively easy. However I had to phone for reinforcements. Getting a timid puppy out of a box when two very lively ones are determined that THEY are the one being adopted is no mean feat!

Next to go was Gafarot, so called due to the state of him when he arrived; covered in burrs and grass seeds. The staff gave him a haircut which got rid of the worst of it, and his lovely new family will soon sort out the rest.

Finally we said goodbye to Choco, which was very much a case of the dog adopting his family! Funnily enough his sponsor is a girl of 15, whose family found him and brought him in to us in May. She has been walking him when she has time ever since, and the family who adopted him today have a girl of about the same age. Maybe this is why he chose them. The key question was would he be good with cats. Fingers crossed as he went into the cathouse, then big cheers as he passed with flying colours. As we all know, this is not a cast  iron guarantee of future behaviour (in the style of “please remember share prices can go down as well as up”), but there was certainly no aggression there.

So all in all a good day. Especially as there was also a reservation which I am too superstitious about to announce until the dog has left, but as it is only tomorrow, you don’t have long to wait!

Mojito leaves
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A non-burry Gafarot finds a new home
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And it was goodbye to Choco too!

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Chips with everything!

Yesterday as well as the adoption of Driver (now Cooper), no fewer than three dogs found their owners thanks to their micro-chips. So today I thought I would explain a bit about the identification of dogs in France. The rules here are very different to those in the UK. Many of you will be aware of this, as you travel regularly with your dogs, but repetition is the mother of learning!

For a start, in France, identification is a legal obligation for all dogs born after 6th January 1999 (and let’s face it, that is most dogs, as 14 is quite elderly!) In addition it is illegal to sell or even give away unidentified dogs, and in theory this is punishable by a pretty hefty fine, so people giving away puppies “free to a good home” are in fact breaking the law.

The most common form of identification is the microchip, which is usually implanted in a dog’s shoulder, and can be read by a special gadget. So if you find a dog, any vet or a SPA will be able to see if he is identified. If he is, the theory is as follows:

All microchips are registered with the SCC (Societe Centrale Canine) in Paris, also known as I-CAD. When a dog is found, the chip number can be matched with this database, and lo and behold, the dog’s owner’s name and address is revealed. Again, very much in theory, the vet or the SPA calls the person who immediately rushes to collect their dog. Et voila!

Things are seldom that simple, however. People move house and forget to update their details at the SCC. This means that we at the SPA have no way of contacting people, although we move heaven and earth to do so. This is thanks to the Internet, Yellow Pages, and various volunteers with lots of time and patience.

If we are still unable to track down the owners of a dog, then after 10 days he is available for adoption. At this time, the dog officially becomes the property of the SPA, and the details of the dog’s new owners will never ever be told to the old owners, should they subsequently show up.

If a dog arrives at the SPA with no microchip, then we still try to find his owners, but obviously it is more tricky! If they come along and can prove that the dog is theirs (vaccination records or photographs or just immediate recognition by the dog!), we chip the dog in their name, which is a legal requirement before the dog can leave the SPA and for which they pay the vet directly, and off they go However if no one comes to claim the dog within 10 days, the dog is up for grabs and again we will chip the dog in the name of the refuge and then this will be changed at the SCC in Paris once the dog is adopted. This usually takes a couple of months, but can be longer, depending on the backlog in Paris. The backlog used to be our fault, but the hyper-efficient Carole has it down to a fine art, now!

In the interim, if a SPA dog is found, it is us who will be contacted, but we know who has adopted our dogs, so we will call the new owners directly so that they can be reunited with their missing mutt!

Some dogs (particularly hunt dogs) are tattooed, and this has both positive and negative sides. If a dog is found with a tattoo in its ear, you know for sure that he has (or had) an owner; Which is great. A vet or an SPA can access the owners via the Paris database. On the negative side, any dog wishing to travel out of France requires a passport, and passports are only issued to dogs with microchips.

I have four dogs, the girls are tattooed (because I had it done the same time as they were being sterilised) and the boys are both micro-chipped. But each of them has a collar with an identification disc on it. This way, anyone finding them can call me straight away, without the need to go to someone with access to the database!

I would recommend a collar with a phone number on it to everyone, even if your dogs are like mine and never stray. Simple but effective!

I haven’t mentioned cats, as this is DOG rescue Carcassonne, but the same rules apply. It is still illegal to give away unidentified kittens for free. For cats, however, identification has only been obligatory since Jan 1st 2012, so there are plenty of unidentified moggies around. At the SPA most of our cats are tattooed, as this is done while they are being sterilised or castrated. And in the case of cats, in my opinion a tattoo is preferable, as people are sadly far less likely to take a lost-looking cat to the vet to see if it is identified!

I hope this information is useful and that it helps reunite you with your lost pets in the future. If you have a chipped dog or cat, make sure your details are up to date in Paris (your vet can help) and for those of you who travel, you can have two numbers on the paperwork, so even if you are at your “other home”, you can be contacted by phone!

Patapouffe reclaimed thanks to his micro-chip yesterday
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Filoune reclaimed thanks to her micro-chip yesterday
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Basile reclaimed thanks to his micro-chip yesterday

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What is wrong with all these dogs? (aka Driver pulls away)

Last week whilst chatting to Diana, a lady who had adopted a dog from the SPA in March, I learned that there is a common belief that the dogs would not be at the refuge “unless there is something wrong with them”. Diana is doing her best to put an end to this rumour by telling all her friends about Millie (formerly Charlotte) with whom she is delighted.

Why do people think being at the SPA means that the dog is to blame? How often do we write that a dog is at the refuge due to a house move, or a couple’s divorce? In what way is that the dog’s fault? And how about all the poor hunt dogs who are old or too frightened of loud noises? In what way are they to blame? And how about the dogs who are left behind by people who go back to the UK and “Can’t” take their beloved dog with them? And yes, this does still happen, despite the relaxation of the passport rules.

How about the dogs who were bought or “acquired” as puppies and whose owners have not trained them, only to bring them to us when they are adolescents? How are they at fault for their owner’s lack of effort?

And all the puppies full stop. Why did their owners not sterilise their dogs in the first place and avoid bringing yet more unwanted dogs into this cruel world of ours?

It really is time that people started to realise that the dogs are at the refuge due only to people and our selfishness and idiocy. Each and every one deserves a second chance. Okay, there may be some who are not good with other dogs, but not everyone wants more than one animal. Some are not good with cats, but that is not necessarily uncurable. And for some people it does not matter; I have four dogs, none of whom likes cats, but I don’t have any, so for me it is not an issue.

So tonight my plea is to give a dog a second chance. Do not make assumptions about a dog because he or she is at the refuge. Make assumptions about their former owner, instead. You have a greater chance of being right!

So here is Driver, a lovely boy who arrived at the refuge at the end of August and who was adopted by a friend of Diana’s today. He is now called Cooper or Coop for short. He is young and boisterous, but ready for a fresh start!

Thanks you Diana, word of mouth is a wonderful thing!

Cooper leaves the refuge

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Cocktail Hour!

Well, today was a good day for three of our puppies. Three of the “Cocktail Litter”, two males, Cuba Libra and Punch, and one little girl, Margarita, left after the minimum possible time at the refuge of ten days.

You may remember that these are five of the eight puppies who were the result of an unwanted litter. A woman in a nearby village refused to sterilise her dog, but thought it was fine to let her wander around during the day. She then threw out the pups when they were 10 weeks old. Naturally the SPA is just expected to cope with the consequences. How many times do I have to say that we are not a dustbin for everyone’s idiocy!

Several of their brothers and sisters are reserved, so it looks like things are not going to turn out too badly for these lovely collie crosses. However I cannot help but think of the adult dogs who are left at the refuge while all the cute babies leave.

And of course this is not the only litter we have at the SPA. Moira mentioned on Saturday that eight more pups had arrived, so I now present to you the Egyptian Deities. Thanks to Carole for the wonderful montage. We have no idea of their history, but they are probably some type of shepherd cross. Bigger than the Cocktail pups, but probably calmer in the long term! In time I will also present to you the Magic Roundabout Litter, who were dumped at the age of 5 weeks, so are not adoptable at the moment; we have Lisa working her Magic on them as we speak!

So goodbye to some Cocktails and greeting to the Deities and once again a plea to sterilise your dogs!

Cuba Libre
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Margarita
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Punch
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And here are the Egyptian Deities. (click on the photo to increase the size)

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Sunday news catch up!

Well, as usual for a Sundays the refuge was shut today, but plenty went on yesterday apart from the departure of the “Scottish contingent”, so I will bring you up to date on some of that!

Firstly there were quite a few adoptions from the refuge: Winnie, the long haired border pup left us, as did Cherokee, Charlot and (for me best of all) Saké. The reason this was such good news was that the lady who adopted him was the same lady who had reserved Mirza. She was the little Yorkie who died so tragically a couple of weeks ago at the vets. Saké is in fine fettle and we hope that he and Marie-José will spend many happy years together. We already have some lovely photos of him in his new home and I am sure more will follow.

The other major event yesterday was the Carcassonne Village of Associations. This is when all the local clubs present their activities to the public in an attempt to get new members or supporters. The SPA usually has a stand and this year was no exception.

As you know, I have been away recently, and it is nice to know that I am dispensable. With no input from me, the volunteers organised the entire thing. A team of them manned (or rather “womanned”) the stand, did a presentation of some of our dogs and spoke to members of the public about the SPA. Perhaps this will result in some new adoptions, but it has certainly gained us several new volunteers!

Thank you so much to all the volunteers who took this on, plus Melanie, an employee who went in her free time. That is what I call dedication!

And this morning the indefatigable Fred who has the Yorkie Alfie in long term foster, did another vide grenier, so yet another cheque is on its way to the SPA. What a great team we have at the refuge! It is quite humbling!

Winnie leaves
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So does Cherokee

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And Charlot (now called Percy)

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And here is Sake (now Chouchou) in his new home

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And here are a couple of photos from the Village of Associations. Thanks to the girls who spent their day publicising the refuge

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Au Revoir France…Hello Scotland!

Yesterday you heard the news from Darcey that Malaga, Garfield and Eclat have left the refuge. They have at last left France and tomorrow morning will be arriving in Hull. Once again we have transported three dogs a long way so that they have a chance of the life that they deserve, it really is a long way but a couple of days travelling is nothing if it secures their future happiness.

Yesterday afternoon, my car full of crates as well as collars, leads and harnesses I set off to collect the dogs from the refuge. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and all three had been playing together in the park so were tired enough that it wasn’t too much of a struggle to wrestle them into their harnesses! When we are transporting dogs we take great care of them and take no chances, they have properly fitted collars, harnesses,we use double ended leads and they are in cages so are always nice and secure.They seemed to know that this was their chance of freedom and settled quickly in their cages.

Next stop was my house where the three were staying overnight before a very early morning start. I was expecting chaos and was pleasantly surprised at how well they all behaved. A evening stroll and then roast chicken and rice for dinner went down a treat and they scoffed this like they had never seen food before! They were the tucked up in bed by nine o’clock and we never heard a peep out of  them all night.

When Malaga arrived at the refuge she was taken straight to the vets as she had been viciously attacked by another dog. It took time to build up her confidence but eventually she was able to share a kennel with Piper, a lovely braque cross. Who knows what life she had before arriving at the SPA but tomorrow she will meet her forever family who live near Edinburgh. With two doggie friends and  a large enclosed garden, I am sure that she will come on leaps and bounds, what a lucky girl!

Garfield was adopted from the SPA as a puppy and brought back 2 years later as being “completely unmanageable”, which roughly translates as “we haven’t trained him, so we are dumping him! Hes a lively boy who needs some training but that shouldn’t be a problem as he is very intelligent. Regular walks on the North East of Scotland’s lovely beaches will soon tire him out and I bet he will be a fantastic family dog!

Lovely Eclat is going to live with Garfields owners mum who has had spaniels and was looking for a companion for her retirement. He will love this role, he loved being out of kennels last night and couldn’t believe his luck getting chicken for dinner.He then found a place on the sofa, put his head down and gave a big sigh…he definitely knew he was on his way to a special place!

It was dark at 5am when they left with my hubby, Roy.  It was a long 10 hours drive for both Roy and the dogs but as you read this they are crossing the North Sea on the Zeebrugge – Hull Ferry. They have all behaved impeccably and have had several walks enroute! When they arrive at Hull they will be met by Malaga’s mum Elinor who will take the three of them up to Edinburgh. There Garfield and Eclat will meet their new families.

So three more doggies, all French breeds, have the chance of a lifetime in Scotland and the good thing is that when I am home in November I will be able to visit them all!

Today’s not so good news is the arrival of another eight pups! This is devastating news so moral at the refuge is very low today. Once again I ask, please, please sterilize your dogs!

Garfield looking very pleased with himself..He was only on the sofa so I could practice the off command of course!

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Been a while since I said this, but FIVE DOG FRIDAY!!!!!

Well, as I hinted yesterday, there was a bit of a mass exodus from the SPA today.

Three dogs left together, courtesy of Moira and her star of a husband, Roy, who is delivering them to the UK. He will be taking Malaga, Garfield and Eclat on the overnight ferry tomorrow night and on Sunday they will be met by Malaga’s new mum. She in turn will deliver the two Brittany spaniels to their new home, before taking Malaga home to meet her new pals.

It will be a long, tiring journey for the dogs, but freedom awaits all of them in Bonnie Scotland, and we will have news of them in their new homes. In fact Moira is going to blog tomorrow, to tell us all how things go tonight at her place. The three dogs were all playing in the park together yesterday, so hopefully all will be well.

The fourth lucky adoptee was Coluche, a little yorkie of 6 years old, whose owners we have been unable to contact since his arrival exactly one month ago. Believe me, we go to a lot of effort to track down a dog’s owners if he is chipped. If the number on the database is no longer current, we use the yellow pages and then we post photos all over the internet. The picture of Coluche was shared thousands of times thanks to Facebook. Finally we have the support of an association, Agir pour les Animaux, one of whose members, Veronique, moves heaven and earth to reunite owners with their dogs. But if they don’t want to be found, then rehoming is the only option.

The other departure was Buggy. He is an 11 year old spaniel who has had no luck finding a new home at the refuge. Due to his age and his increasing girth (lack of exercise!), he was an ideal candidate for fostering, and to our delight a lovely couple with two hectares of land have taken him home to love and spoil! His foster mum, Nath, is delighted, as are all of us at the SPA!

There were a couple of reservations too, and only one arrival, so today was officially a good day!

Eclat leaves
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As does Garfield
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and Malaga – safe journey all of you

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Coluche was adopted but will stay closer to home

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And Buggy goes to a long term foster at the age of eleven!

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Anita and Mick raise funds thanks to curry and cake!

On September 1st, Moira wrote about the Vide Greniers that took place that day and the work put in by our super volunteers to raise money for the refuge. Well, last night I went to a very different kind of fundraiser.

This was a curry night organised by Anita, who is a professional caterer (see her website http://www.lesdelicesdanita.com/ and her Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Les-Délices-dAnita/184120071703543), who lives in Rennes les Bains. There were some 30 people there, a mix of French and British, all tucking in to a traditional Indian meal! We had poppadoms to start, then onion bahjis and samosas, followed by 4 different curries with rice and nan bread. Dessert followed, and I was treated to a magnificent birthday cake, (Anita is often called “The Cake Lady” and now I know why!)

The evening raised €350, which is a magnificent sum and will be greatly appreciated by the animals at the refuge. Thanks so much Anita and Mick. I had a fabulous time, and it was lovely to see Castro, formerly Ray, the blind Bleu de Gascogne, who popped in to say hi, and also to chat to the owners of Millie (formerly Charolotte) who had been adopted from us in March.

The refuge was fairly calm today, apart from the arrival of a 9 year old Brittany spaniel, whom we have named Apache. He is really adorable, with freckles on his nose. I have a feeling he is going to be one of my favourites! Oh, and we had three new volunteers join our happy crew of dog walkers, so lots more dogs will get out for exercise and socialisation. Thanks girls!

No fewer than four dogs are packing their suitcases before leaving tomorrow, so don’t forget to see who the lucky ones are!

Happy Birthday to me!
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Lovely Apache
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Nureyev dances to freedom

Hi this is Darcey, back after what seems like an age, but of course I was keeping up with events from the other side of the Atlantic. Thanks to Moira for doing such an excellent job whilst holding the fort.

Today I went to the SPA for the first time in a couple of weeks and I was shocked at how the place has filled up in so short a time. Wednesday is not usually a refuge day for me, but I was accompanying a couple who are thinking of adopting one of our dogs and are now deciding whether or not to take the plunge. Fingers crossed. I won’t tell you who the lucky dog is until the departure date, and as it is a UK adoption, there is the 3 weeks rabies time to wait….watch this space, as they say!

I arrived just too late to witness the departure of Nureyev, and it was a real shame as I would have loved to have seen this little boy one last time and given him a final cuddle. He arrived seven months ago and has watched several of his kennel mates find new homes. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Then finally he caught the eye of a family who were looking for a companion for their dog. Nureyev gets on with everyone, and is small and discreet, so we just knew that it would work.

I saw one new dog arrive, and although he is chipped, I fear the worst for him, as despite being just 7 years old and small (he is a shih-tzu), Basile is showing signs of an eye infection. This may well be curable, but if his former owners are not willing to pay for him to be treated, then perhaps he is better off finding a new home! For the moment we are searching for his owners, but I am not optimistic. I know this breed is very popular, so if Basile is your kind of dog, please get in touch. He can be reserved pending confirmation from La Poste that his owners have been informed of his whereabouts.

Nureyev leaves after 8 long months.
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And Basile arrives
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