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More arrivals, but two dogs leave….

This blog will be far more pedestrian after all the excitement of yesterday, but I will try to bring you up to date with the latest comings and goings.

Yesterday the owner of the little dog Galapagos, presumed brother of Ibiza, showed up to collect him. She was aware that identification is obligatory and said that she would get it done. Only it doesn’t work that way; no dog can leave us without identification, so one of the employees took Galapagos off to the vet and he left there with his owner. Better later than never.

The two other arrivals of yesterday are still waiting for their (perhaps) former owners, but otherwise should have no trouble finding new homes, as they are both small and youngish. Of the five (yes FIVE) arrivals of today, two have already been reclaimed and a third is identified but we have been unable to contact his owners as yet.

That is 33 dogs in so far this year, and it is only the 17th of January. This does not bode well for the year.

However, there is usually something positive to report. Yesterday saw the adoption of little Oslo (I could not understand why this little cutie had not left sooner), and today we said goodbye to little Sputnik. So that is two more in the warm.

Also yesterday Melanie worked her magic on Dingo, who came in looking like Bob Marley’s spare wig, after being left behind to fend for himself when his owners moved house. This tiny little chap should find a home without too much trouble, especially now we can see which end is which!










Sputnik – ADOPTED











Dingo Before and After
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The wait is finally over!

Well, for those of you who are not on Facebook or read this blog on my site first, the wait for the big announcement is finally over. Today, saw the adoption of Ugo and Uta. Yes, you did read that right. After almost two and a half years at the SPA, this brother and sister finally found a new home.

Their story is shocking, but also typical in many ways. They were brought into the refuge in August 2011 by their owners, who had adopted the two dogs from the SPA as puppies and were now moving to an apartment. However, these two dogs had spent their whole lives together and had not been socialised with other dogs. Nor are they good with cats. A future blog will deal with the issue of socialisation, but all I will say for now is that abandoning any dog due to a house move is just inexplicable to me. Abandoning a dog that is not socialised is worse, as obviously it is more difficult to find him a new home. And to abandon TWO such dogs makes our task of finding a new owner almost impossible. Hence why these two magnificent dogs have spent so long behind bars.

I would like to think that their former owners feel at least some shame, but I suspect they haven’t given their dogs a moment’s thought since abandoning them, probably in the same way they have forgotten  the excess furniture that they disposed of at the same time.

An event was created on Facebook in an attempt to find Ugo and Uta a home and this was shared with literally thousands of people. Funnily enough it was not thanks to this that they have been rehomed, rather it was by direct contact with the refuge. A couple of weeks ago a woman came to ask about dogs  in need, and this was followed by numerous emails. Yes, here was someone who genuinely wanted to save a life (or two). Once the preliminaries had been done, there was just one final question that should have been asked sooner; did the lady have any cats. We all held our breath as we waited for the answer. PHEW! And BINGO!

This was the point at which we informed the other volunteers. It was only fair to give everyone a chance to say goodbye. Ugo and Uta’s arrival at the SPA predates that of most of our volunteers, after all! Tears were shed, and Sylvanie and Martine decided to come and wash the dogs so that they would be at their best for their new mum who came to collect them today.

Thank you to everyone who looked after these two dogs while they have been at the SPA, employees and volunteers alike. Their story is sad and shows certain humans in a very poor light. But it also shows that we must never give up. I think we were all convinced that these dogs would die behind bars.

The biggest thanks go to their new mum.  We wish there were more people like you in this world. We will pass on news and photos, of course! Goodbye Ugo and Uta, please come and visit us!

I will mention other refuge news tomorrow. This is a stand alone story!

Ugo and Uta with their new Mum, Diana, and her friend Terry. 

Three arrivals, none identified :(

Sadly there is no news from the refuge; nothing good at least. Three dogs arrived, none of whom is identified so unless their owners are looking for them, they are likely to remain with us. I will try to take photos tomorrow to add to our Facebook page, (www.facebook.com/SPA.CARCASSONNE) but for now I will just tell you that one of them is definitely the brother of a dog who was adopted from us in November.

Who remembers little Ibiza, who lived in the cat house and was snapped up as soon as she was seen? Well today’s arrival is an exact carbon copy, but male! This is good news and bad news. Good because small dogs (especially French bulldog crosses) are easy to home. Bad news because there is clearly someone out there not paying too much attention as to what happens with their unwanted pups.

Like his now safely-homed sister, this boy was born in August 2013, and sadly it looks like the novelty of puppy ownership has worn off for someone. Of course, it is possible that he is lost, but as mentioned above, he is not identified, so how much do his “owners” love him? Identification is obligatory, remember?  We are calling him Galapagos. No idea why, but the smaller the dog, the bigger the name!

And as for the person who has his mum, please please get your dog sterilised.

There was a reservation today, so it was not all bad news, and in any case, tomorrow’s blog should help raise everyone’s spirits!

This is not Galapagos, it is Ibiza, but no one would know! 
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Freedom for Farrah!

Today it was raining. Or more exactly today it was raining some of the time. In fact it was as we Brits say, if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes! Some lucky dogs were walked but, you guessed it, the walkers were hardy Brits!

No dogs arrived and one lucky girl, Farrah, was adopted. This little dog arrived just before the New Year along with her sister, and it was clear from the word go that Farrah would find a home very quickly. Her adopter contacted us via Facebook about saving a dog who would otherwise probably never find a home. However once she had seen Farrah she was hooked.  It is a shame for the other dogs for whom this could have been a lifeline, but the heart goes where the heart goes, as they say. And whereas several volunteers were disappointed that the adopters desire to “ save a dog” crumbled at the sight of a dog whom we could have homed fifty times over, we are not there to force people’s hand, and we just have to accept the wishes of the adopter.

Farrah was sterilised today and has now gone off to her new home. Her sister Vienna is still waiting, but it shouldn’t be too long before she is in the warm, too. She has the same character as her sister, just as affectionate and calm.

Come and meet her, she will steal your heart, in the same way that her sister stole her new owner’s heart!

A sleepy post-sterilisation Farrah






And her sister Vienna who is waiting for a home.

Kobi Day at last!

Well, a new week has started and some great news from the refuge already with the departure of the second of our two rubbish tip survivors, Cacoa (now Kobi). Like his brother, Praliné, Cocoa was one of the two stronger pups, but even so we wanted to make sure he was fit and well before his new family adopted him. I know they were initially disappointed not to be able to take him home immediately (it really was love at first sight), but they saw the wisdom of leaving him with us until we and the vet were happy that he was okay.

Kobi’s new owners are none other than the parents of Rosa, our volunteer and some-time translator for this blog when it is on Facebook. So we will have lots of news of his progress, and in fact the first picture has already arrived! I think Rosa will spend more time at her parents’ house now, rather than in Toulouse where she lives!

On the subject of puppies, several people have asked questions about new-born pups and added comments to yesterday’s blog concerning the psychological development of puppies who have not spent adequate time with their mothers. This will be the subject of a future blog, but for now I will just say that yes, you are right. Dogs should spend a minimum of time with their mums in order to ensure that they are  well-balanced in later life. Watch this space, as they say.

In other refuge news, one of Saturday’s arrivals, Octo, found his owners today. His real name is Puma. And yet another puppy arrived, this one is ten weeks old. Another Christmas reject, perhaps? Pictures of him will arrive in due course, all I can say for now is that it is a boy and that he will be of small size when adult!

Other than that we have had a reservation that is almost unbelievable, and although I am bursting to tell you all, I won’t do so until the deal is done. Thursday is going to be a BIG DAY, that’s all I will say!

Yet another reason to keep following this blog!

Kobi at home with Rosa




The Breast Start For Pups..

This week saw the arrival of yet more young pups. They certainly do have the ‘ awww’   factor but the fact of the matter is that the future is very uncertain for young pups taken away from their mums too early.

Most decent breeders will make sure that the ‘mum to be’ is in tip top health and fully vaccinated well before mating even takes place. This ensures that the necessary antibodies are passed to the pups . Antibodies are passed in two ways, first of all to the pups through the placenta and secondly to the pups in the colostrum,the specialized milk produced by the mum for the first one to two days after giving birth. Colostrum provides the puppy with protective antibodies, and it is extremely high in calories, protein and vitamins. Therefore, it is critical that a puppy nurses within the first 12 to 24 hours to obtain the important benefits of colostrum. This is called passive immunity.

Antibodies received from mum generally circulate in the pups system for several weeks so pups born to mums which haven’t been vaccinated or pups who don’t receive colostrum are at a distinct disadvantage and are at risk from any infections they come into contact with.  After the short period of colostrum production, the pups caloric, protein, fat, vitamin, mineral and water requirements are matched perfectly by the nutritional content of mum’s milk.

Pups taken away from their mum after birth that haven’t had their mums colostrum have few defences against infection and are at high risk from any infection. Apart from the antibodies and perfect nutritional content of mum’s milk it is also delivered at the correct temperature, at the correct speed to pups in the correct feeding position. WOW…try replicating that with a bottle of milk replacer!

It’s for all of the above reasons that we sigh instead of ‘awww’ when young pups arrive at the refuge.  The window of risk for pups, between about three weeks and when they can be vaccinated ( active immunity) is often when they are abandoned. The refuge is a very dangerous place for pups with compromised immune systems and they are at severe risk from infections such as parvovirus or even distemper. All we can do is isolate them to protect them from infection and bottle feed them until they can be weaned and then vaccinated.

Please, please sterilise your dogs and don’t produce unwanted pups. Unless pups are nurtured as nature intended, with their mums, they are at risk and none of us would want that for the dogs of the future!

Pups need to be with their mum, like my pup Zac ( on the left). He stayed with his mum until he was 8 weeks old!



Three in but two out!

Today could have been better, but I guess the same could be said of just about every day.

The bad news first. Kaiser was brought back. Sometimes people mean well, but have to accept when they have taken on too much. Five children and two large dogs plus 2 cats is quite a big family already, without adding a third big dog to the mix. Still, as with all adoptions and fosters, we know a lot more about the dog now than we did before, so it is never all bad news. Kaiser went off to share his box with Panini, and didn’t seem too perturbed to be back. Next time lucky, big fellah!

One dog was found and another one was abandoned (pre-planned), so that is three dogs in in total. But two dogs were adopted.

First to leave was Sherman, and here it really was a case of love at first sight. By Internet, no less. A photo of Sherman caught the attention of a lovely lady, who just knew he was the dog for her.  She came along to meet him and was even more sure. A week  later and Sherman, this beautiful dog of nearly nine years old was off to a new home. As the photo shows, he is going to be well-loved!

Next to leave was Giseh. She may well change her name, but we are not sure to what. She has gone to be a companion to Castro. He is the blind,old griffon bleu de Gascogne who was adopted from the SPA not so long ago when he was called Ray.

The weather was good so plenty of dogs were walked and a couple of new volunteers joined the team.  So although things could have been better, they could have been a  lot worse, too!

Octo arrives. We think he is about eight years old, hence the name







Blanco arrives








Sherman leaves. Feel the love!









And Giseh leaves with Castro (aka Ray)

From Scrapheap to Safety

Some dogs are born survivors, and one of those left today. Who remembers the litter that was found on the rubbish heap just before Christmas? Little Angel died the same day, and sadly her brother Nestlé survived for two weeks before also succumbing to the illnesses picked up during those oh so important first weeks of a puppy’s life. Puppies really do need their mother’s milk and manmade substitutes are just not the same. This will be the subject of another blog, but for now let’s talk about Praliné.

Of the two puppies who survived, Praliné was the second to be reserved, and in fact his reservation took place on the open day at the start of the month. We were keen to make sure that he and his brother Cocoa (soon to be renamed Kobi) were fit and strong before leaving. The loss of Angel and Nestlé hit us hard and we didn’t want to cause that kind of sorrow to a family. Today Praliné was given a clean bill of health and off he went.His brother will be following shortly.

Of course two out of four is not a great success rate, but if you look at the start in  life for this litter, perhaps it is a miracle that any survived.

The day’s other departure was that of Laika, aka Fetide. Several  people, both French and English, have asked about her name. Basically when she arrived she STANK. At first we thought she was ill, but it seems that she was just suffering the after-effects of a nasty meal (she had been straying, so probably did not choose to eat rancid pigeon, or whatever it was). In any case, this is why she was called Fetide (who is actually the character Uncle Fester from the French version of the Addams family).

After protests from some volunteers and following a suggestion by her godmother, we renamed her Laika, and personally I don’t think it is a coincidence that following this rebaptising, people started to ask questions about this beautiful six year old setter. Today she left with a foster family who are looking after her for their friends, who are adopting Laika officially next week. No point in keeping her in the SPA when a warm home is available!

So two dogs out today, let’s hope for more good news tomorrow!

(photo taken from outside kennel to avoid contamination)







Fetide/ Laika -ADOPTED (and not longer smelly!)
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Just because you are stupid, don’t assume we are too!

Yet another busy day at the refuge, with a couple of new arrivals but a couple of departures, too. And thanks to the volunteers and some lovely sunshine, several dogs were walked.

On the adoption front, little Kerno left, which is great news for him and for us too, of course. His big eyes melted everyone’s heart, and it was lovely to see him leave before spending too long with us.
The second departure was that of Talbo, who has been with us since the end of November, much to everyone’s amazement. Usually dogs this small go really quickly, but Talbo was upstaged somewhat by the arrival of Alec, who looked just the same but who was younger and smaller.

In any case today Talbo left with a lady who has another identical dog, the two of them got on very well together and a lovely life awaits this little chap.

A couple of dogs arrived, as I mentioned and once their pound time is up, they too will be available for adoption. One of them, Dingo, should appeal to lots of you as he is small and fluffy, although right now he is in a bit of a state.

Now, what is this blog’s title all about, you may be wondering. Well, here goes. When you come to the SPA with a dog who is identified, it does not take a rocket scientist to find out that you are the owner of the dog. So to Mademoiselle X who brought us the skeletal Rottweiler whom she had “found”, don’t assume we are incapable of phoning the breeder and finding out that in fact you are the dog’s owner. Or rather your sister is. Your sister who has the same surname as you. I understand that it is shameful to abandon an animal who is clearly underfed, and yes, you SHOULD be ashamed of yourself for not looking after this wonderful dog. But at least have the courage to admit he is yours and don’t assume we are idiots. As to your plaintive “but we have spent money at the vets on the dog”; you certainly didn’t spend much money on food, that’s for sure! Nice fake designer handbag, by the way.

Don’t worry, all you Rottie lovers, the breeder is going to collect the dog on Monday. His few days at the SPA could have been avoided had his “owner” taken the trouble to phone the breeder, which is what we did.

Sometimes I wonder what dogs would say if they could speak. I am sure most of it would be derogatory. And justified.




















“Not my dog” arrives. Yeah, right. 
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Playing chicken!

Six dogs arrived at the SPA today, but four of them left straight away, as they were identified. That is how things SHOULD work, as identification is obligatory. In fact all six should have been identified, but one of them is a puppy, and I am not sure of his age, so perhaps the owners can be excused….EXCEPT that it is illegal to sell or even give away a puppy of under eight weeks and who is not identified. Could this be the first of the Christmas rejects, I wonder? In any case, the lucky pup has gone home with volunteer Isabelle, so will be warm and loved until a home is found.

There was one reservation today and although I am not going to tell you who is leaving (I am far too superstitious for that) I want to just talk about this adoption. Mostly because I love the whole concept and I was so excited that I (unusually) mentioned it on my Facebook wall, which led to me receiving lots of fabulous comments and one of the nicest ever pictures of one of our dogs in his post-SPA life.

Basically a woman wanted to adopt a dog who is okay with chickens. Now we have a cat house at the SPA, but even the cat test is not infallible (as some of you have learned to your cost), but we do not have chickens. So what better way to test a dog with chickens than to bring along your own? I was not at the refuge on Monday when this took place, sadly. But long story short, of the several dogs who cut the mustard (ie who did not attack the chickens), one was chosen and will be leaving us soon.

But look at this lovely photo of Guismo, who was adopted in February last year at the age of ten. Shows the maturity of the older dog who knows when he is well off and is not going to risk losing his wonderful home just for the sake of a few pesky hens!

Guismo – Okay chickens









Leia arrives. Ten weeks old.