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Le grand depart

Hold onto your hats everyone! No fewer than eight dogs left the refuge today! Been quite a while since we had a day like this!

Lemon (now Buddy) and Shakira left for their new home this morning. A big thanks to Moira for driving them half way, I will let her tell you all about it tomorrow. Then this afternoon saw the continuation of the Anatolian Exodus, with two of the three remaining Anatolian Shepherd puppies, Gargamelle and Gaia, leaving for pastures new. Titan will leave us on Wednesday. 

We then said goodbye to one of my favourites, Spirit, who was found in a terrible state and taken to the refuge in Castelnaudary, from where we collected her towards the end of September. Finally a loving family and some stability for this lovely girl, who has been moved from pillar to post for most of her life. Next to go was Cherry, who has a lovely new black labrador for a brother. Flurry left just before closing time, another dog who had been homed and then brought back due to a divorce. This time her luck seems to have well and truly changed.

Moka also left. This is the border pup who had been in foster care with volunteer Val for two months. He has gone to live with friends of the owners of two other SPA borders, Sake and Lolipop (remember them?). Like them Moka will take part in a programme of educating school children to love and respect animals. This is only possible because Moka is such a well-balanced dog, and he (and we) have Val to thank for that. If there were a gold medal for fostering, we would be handing one out to Val. I am sure she is a bit tearful at saying goodbye to her baby, but that leaves room for a new temporary member of the family.

Fostering is not for everyone. I failed dismally. The only time I fostered I fell in love and refused to let the dog go. It takes a special kind of person.

On the subject of fosters, Moise, the old border collie, has gone to live with another border-loving family. He is very lucky as he is old and arthritic, so a winter at the SPA would not suit him one bit. He will have to undergo an operation in the coming weeks for a tumour on his unmentionables, but at least he will be in the warm to recover.

Coraline left for a foster family too. She will spend 2 weeks with Isabelle, one of our volunteers before moving to her “permanent” family. And foster mum extraordinaire, Edith, took Frizzy home to try and build up her confidence and get her ready for a new life.

So if you add those to the eight adoptees, the refuge has eleven fewer dogs tonight. Or at least it would have had three dogs not arrived. But tonight I am still smiling!

The SPA is open tomorrow as it is the first Sunday of the month. Let’s hope I am still smiling this time tomorrow!

Darcey is happy


Introducing a new dog to an oldie!

Today the refuge was shut for All Saints Day and apart from the arrival of one dog, dumped in the external boxes (how brave of you!), nothing happened. So even though today isn’t Sunday, we have a Sunday-type blog!

This week we received an update on Habbie (Noosa) who was recently adopted into a family with an older dog, Biba. Biba was used to having all the love and attention to herself, and her owners were quite nervous about bringing a new, young dog home. Would Biba be upset and feel usurped? As this week’s email and photos show, all their fears were unfounded. Biba has found a new lease of life and the two dogs play happily together.

Introducing two or more unfamiliar dogs is tricky no matter what their ages, but the task is even more complicated when one dog is a hyper puppy and the other is an aging pooch used to being the top dog. However when introductions are done correctly the outcome can be really amazing!

So how do you set up these introductions for a successful outcome? Please remember that dogs, given a choice, do not  raise puppies when they are advanced in age. They want to raise their “kids” when they still have the energy to keep up with them. It’s not that the puppies are “obnoxious” to them – it’s just that they have another state of mind and.in order to be around the older dogs the puppy has to learn social skills.

It is sensible to introduce your old and new dogs on neutral territory. This reduces the risk that your existing dog will see your new puppy as an intruder in his space. Watch both dogs for signs of discomfort and aggressive posture. If the hair on your dog’s back stands up, if he bears his teeth or if he stares for a prolonged period, separate the dogs and try the introduction again on another day. Feed older and younger dogs separately. This keeps your puppy’s nose out of your older dog’s bowl and prevents jealous fights over food. Eating together should be one of the last things your dogs learn to do..Remove objects from the environment your dogs can’t or won’t share or that might start fights. Make sure both your older pooch and your new puppy have their own food and water bowls, beds, toys, leashes and other supplies.

It is very important to offer your older dog at least as much love and attention as you did before the new puppy moved in. Having two or more dogs should not mean that each dog is loved less. Allow your older dog to warn your puppy with a snarl or growl. This is natural behaviour and is designed to set limits for the puppy. Make sure your older dog has a safe place away from the boisterous puppy. Just like small children can tire adults, puppies can quickly get on the nerves of older dogs. Let your older dog have a break in a safe place the new puppy is not allowed.

Remember that a young dog will have different exercise needs to an older dog so structure your walks accordingly. It’s nice to reward all your pets for behaving nicely but when you offer love, praise and treats you are settling both dogs up for a happy future together!

Habbie ( Noose) and Biba are perfect examples of how well youngsters and older dogs can get on. Hopefully their success story will inspire more families with older dog to give a home to a youngster and don’t forget, should you ever run into any problems with a SPA dog, just lift the phone and call us. We have two dog trainers on staff and are more than happy to help! And if your French isn’t up to it, just send a message to this website and we will happily give advice.

Habbie (Noosa) and Biba

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And the bubble bursts!

Usually the departure of three dogs would be cause for celebration. And of course we are delighted for today’s lucky adoptees. But bearing in mind that six new dogs arrived, the champagne corks will have to stay in for now.

Two of today’s adoptions were the start of what I am calling the Anatolian Exodus. Yes, two of the Anatolian shepherds, who arrived in such appalling condition in early October left the SPA today. One of them, Gargantua, is going all the way to Haute Savoie, his new owner having made a 12 hour round trip to collect him. Another, Giga (now Ruby) is staying closer to home, but with a family who already knows the breed well and are also known to the SPA. In fact years ago, when I was a new volunteer, they adopted a dog called Rocky (now Roxy) and it was wonderful to hear news of him  and his adventures.
The third departure was that of another puppy, one of the Egyptian Deities, Apis. He leaves five of his siblings behind. So if you like the look of him, don’t despair, there are plenty more waiting for homes.

In terms of new arrivals, one of them was identified and reclaimed immediately. Four of the others have albums on Facebook, but the fifth, a puppy, is in such a terrible state (yes, at 8 weeks) that he may not survive.

The two littlies, a York and a teeny tiny cross breed may be reclaimed, or at least being small, should be adopted soon. One of the others, lovely Diesel who was found in Esparaza, will probably have a long wait and as for Djamon, he is a beautiful beauceron whose owner phoned us up to book a slot to abandon his dog then decided to throw the dog out instead. There is a reason we ask people to wait their turn. It is so we can insure that there is a space available. How many times do we have to say “The refuge is full” before people stop treating us like a dustbin for their unwanted dogs and cats?

Today’s departures did not free a single box, as all three puppies were sharing their boxes with their siblings. The big new arrivals take up far more space. Oh, for a world where people sterilise their dogs and love them forever!

Everything was going so well this week; my bubble has burst.

Gargantua leaves for the Haute Savoie










Giga (now Ruby) leaves too










Apis is adopted












But Djamon arrives, two weeks early, but his owner didn’t care enough to bring him in as arranged










Chiffon’s prospects are much better, he is small and young


“Sam” lost and found!

For the third day in a row I have a smile on my face. This time it is for quite a selfish reason!

In a previous blog I mentioned how hard it is for volunteers to bring dogs in, knowing as we do how overcrowded the refuge is, so I was feeling very guilty about a little dog that I brought in myself. Okay he was small, but he was adding to the numbers and that is the last thing we need at the moment.

Nearly two weeks ago I spotted a small jack russell type dog wandering round looking lost at the refuge gates. Several other volunteers saw him too, but we were unable to catch him. Then as I left the refuge just over a week ago I saw him again. It was a couple of days after Team Sport had been at the SPA, and I was glad none of them were there to see me as I sprinted at the speed of a slug after the little dog. But success was my reward and Sam, as I named him (cos I first saw him on a samedi) arrived at the refuge.

It wasn’t until yesterday that photos of him were put on Facebook, but the result was immediate. “Sam’s” mum came to collect him today, having seen him on the SPA Facebook page. He is now identified and so if he does go walkabout again, we will be able to reunite him with his owner straightaway. With any luck he will have learned his lesson and that is the last we will see of him!

Good week so far; hope tomorrow won’t bring me down to earth with a bump.

Sam leaves after 8 days at the refuge. Found by his owner thanks to Facebook!

Two lovely girls are adopted!

Funny how sometimes, after waiting for months, a dog is adopted out of the blue. In fact this very morning one of our volunteers, Julie, who is very active on internet forums, asked me whom she should feature as “dog of the month” and I said “Molly”. Well, Julie, I hope you haven’t spent all day writing about Molly, cos now she has left!

Word of mouth is a wonderful thing, and Molly’s adopters are friends of another volunteer, Martine, who was able to suggest which dogs may be suitable for their lifestyle. And as luck would have it, when they arrived at the refuge, Molly was being given a bath by Stephane and Sabrina, so was a)clean and b) calm and relaxed!

So after nearly 11 months behind bars, this lovely girl has finally found a home. I guess it was just her day!

The second lucky girl to leave us was little Bikini, a seven year old Coton de Tulear. She was sterilised today and left with her new family this evening. So two females have left the refuge and a third was reserved.

What with that and the walking  and washing that took place, today was not a bad day. Yesterday was a good one too, so let’s hope the week continues to be positive!

Lovely Molly, a home for you at last! 









And Bikini leaves us too!




Titus Toddles Off..

We are always pleased when the week starts off positively and so were delighted when tiny Titus was adopted today. He was brought to the refuge with another small,l younger female who looked remarkably like him, probably his daughter, but she was adopted very quickly leaving Titus alone. Titus was a lovely, friendly little chap but was limping due to a twisted Achilles tendon. A minor operation sorted this and of course we took that advantage of the anesthetic and had him castrated at the same time. He recovered quickly and today he left with his new mum, not a care in the world!

When you are thinking about adopting a dog its very important to consider your lifestyle and there is no denying that there are several advantages of adopting a small breed dog. Lots of people like the fact that you can take them almost anywhere and more and more stores and restaurants are allowing dogs to come inside, particularly if they’re small in size. I often see small dogs in trolleys in the supermarket and I certainly couldn’t pop either of my Labradors into one of these! It’s a fact that small dogs tend to form close bonds with their owners, possibly because their small size allows them to follow their owner almost everywhere.

Many apartment complexes have regulations specifying the size dog you can have. If your dog is Tinkerbell size, he may be allowed whereas a bigger dog would not. In general,small dogs require less food which can be a cost savings to you. Plus, if you need to take them to a kennel or have them groomed, it generally will cost less than it would for a larger dog. Small dogs tend to be less threatening to other pets you may have in your house. If you happen to already have a cat, a small dog isn’t going to strike as much fear in your cat’s heart as a German Shepherd would. Don’t underestimate them though. Small dogs can sometimes be quite feisty and need the same sensible rules and training that larger dogs do.

Health wise,smaller dogs tend to have fewer issues than larger dogs and certainly have a much longer life expectancy so Titus at 7 years old is a mere puppy compared to a 7 year old Newfoundland.  So goodbye Titus we wish you a long and happy life!





We All Need A Little Help From Our Friends…

At the SPA, like most refuges times are tough and we can certainly do with all the help we can get. This might mean making a donation, sponsoring a dog, becoming a volunteer or fostering one of our dogs or cats.  Lots of our volunteers also fund raise and these monies really are a lifeline to us!

Debbie one of our volunteer dog walker and fundraisers is organizing two events in the near future which are going to be held in the Salle de Mairie at Puivert. Half of the proceeds will go to the SPA Carcassonne and half to Twilight the retirement home for old doggies, so all donations will make winter a wee bit easier for our furry friends.

The first is Saturday 16 November from 10am – 1pm, when there will be cakes, books, cards, food and various craft stalls selling a  wide variety of items which will be just right for Christmas presents. There is also a raffle and a bottle stall.

On Friday 6 December we are having a musical evening when the Puivert choir will be singing followed by a performance from the Old Spice Girls – who are not to be missed! There will be mulled wine and mince pies in the interval.

At both events we will be running a silent auction with the opportunity to secretly bid for a selection of items, including wine from Chateau Begude, holiday break, house cleaning, pedicure, meals at local restaurants etc..

The success of both events is dependent upon donations and if you can donate any of the following items we would be very grateful:

New or nearly new clothes, furnishings, appliances and unwanted gifts.

Bottles for the bottle stall

Raffle prizes


Items  for the auction. This can be anything from a mornings cleaning, pedicure, Holiday accommodation, meal at a restaurant or anything people can secretly bid for!!

If you can help us by donating any of the above items please contact one of the volunteers below who will be happy to receive any donated items.

English Library  Quillan-

Julie Christian – Quillan  juliechristian6249@gmail.com

Fred Alsop –     Quillan fred.alsop@gmail.com

Jan Fleming-  Lavelanet chez.fleming@gmail.com

Karen Pead-  Balestie karen.pead@orange.fr

Debbie Jones – Puivert nelliejones6@gmail.com (after 18th October)

Belinda Carter-  Les Bordes- Belinda.carter@orange.fr

Moira Doig – Fanjeaux –moiradoig@aol.com

Jane Hartley- Villeneuve Minervois-janehartley@gmail.com

Di Eccles- Quillan   dieccles1234@hotmail.com

SPA – Carcassonne

At both fundraisers  we will also be acting as a drop off point for any of the following items, which both the dogs homes are always so grateful for:

Dog ,or Cat Food, Collars, Dog treats, Bedding and Balls of Wool

(we have keen knitters amongst us who knits blankets to keep the dogs warm in winter!)

So come on folks, have a clear out and put unwanted items to good use. Our doggy friends will be very grateful!






‘La Vie En Rose’ for Rose and Ariel..

Many people who come to adopt, come with the remit that they want a ‘good family dog’ and for us Brits when we think of a gentle, calm, happy go lucky dog we think of a Labrador.

We have all sorts of Labrador and Labrador crosses at the SPA and having had Labs or Lab crosses all my life I can certainly understand the attraction.  They are easy to train, love being part of an active family and love everyone and everything they meet. Labradors love to please and are playful, protective, loving, and reliable.

When a couple with a young family turned up on Wednesday looking for a family pooch, they were immediately attracted to Rose. Rose is a smallish Lab cross who was brought in by Rebecca and James, a couple of our volunteers who found her wandering in a local village. At only 13 months old she is a great age and will fit into family life very easily. What really sealed the deal was when the children gave her a cuddle and she wagged her tail with delight.  Rose is certain to have a great life with this young active family and tonight she will be surrounded by love instead of a concrete kennel and lots of barking! So a massive thank you to Rebecca and James for bringing her in, she now has the future she really deserves!

It’s not unusual to find dogs wandering in French villages and where I live there are quite a few dogs who wander free during the day but certainly have homes to go to. I know who the dogs are and who they belong to but should you find a dogs who seems lost and doesn’t seem to belong to anyone please speak to the local Mairie. No matter what they tell you it is their responsibility to arrange for the dog to be taken home or brought to the SPA. All Mairies are affiliated to a SPA and it’s their job to make the appropriate arrangements.

For anyone else looking for a Labrador, we have lots of super dogs who will make great family pets.  Please remember that all Labs, rescue or not can be boisterous youngsters and need training.  We always recommend doggy training lessons and in fact Club Canin will give you two free lessons if your dog is a SPA dog. There you will learn to train your dog, teach him appropriate doggy manners and best of all your dog will learn to socialise with other dogs of all shapes and sizes. So both you and your dog will make new friends so its well worth giving it a go!

Yesterday we also saw the departure of tiny Ariel who arrived with her brother Polochon. These three month old Jack Russel pups attracted lots of attention. Polochon left last week and Ariel left yesterday with her forever family.  These pups like lots of our pups have been living with the cats in the cat house which certainly ensures that they are feline friendly !

Tomorrow is an open day at Club Canin (10am – 6pm) so why not pop along, see what classes are available and meet the trainers. There will be fun and games for the dogs and you might see a few SPA dogs there as well!!

Rose who left today


Ariel left yesterday


Solo is looking for a family



Schadow needs a family too



Don’t Shop….Adopt!

Every week we hear of people going to breeders for pups, buying from stores who sell pets or from an add in the local paper!  With thousands of dogs abandoned in refuges in France every year, adopting a pet instead of buying is the only responsible choice! We are once again nearly full up so why would anyone want to buy a pup rather than save one? Can you really validate lining the pockets of irresponsible breeders rather than saving a life? And if you do so are you truly an animal lover?

If you buy a pet from a breeder you are giving money to the pet breeding industry – pet shops, puppy mills and breeders – and encouraging further breeding when there are already too many unwanted animals. Each time you buy one, you are saying, “do that again.!” Buying from a breeder or pet store simply tells them to breed more animals!

If you are breeding from your own dog , these puppies will need homes.! You may plan to keep one or all of the puppies, but if you have room in your home to add one or more animals, that space could go to a refuge animal. The people who you might give one of the puppies to could have adopted from the SPA so instead of saving 4, 5, or 6 animals from the SPA, breeding creates new animals who will need homes.

To some people, “responsible breeder” is a breeder who makes sure their animals are going to good homes and generally takes good care of their cats or dogs. They are different from puppy mills, which sell to pet stores, have no idea where the animals are going to end up, treat the animals as disposable, and often keep the animals in crowded, filthy conditions. However, too often “responsible breeder” is an oxymoron. No matter how well the animals are cared for, there are too many animals for too few homes, and there is no responsible way to intentionally increase the number of dogs in France right now. In a perfect world there would be a place for responsible breeders as well as rescues but that ‘perfect’ world is a long way away.

Adopting from us frees up space in the SPA and it allows us to take in new animals. Adoption saves not only the animal you adopt, but also the new animal the SPA can take in. Combined with not breeding or buying, adopting from the SPA helps both ends of the problem: fewer animals will be bred, and more animals who are already here right now will go to a good home.

Please,  please, adopt don’t shop!





Two adoptions and three reservations

Today I left the refuge with a smile on my face, which isn’t always the case. No, it isn’t because I am off to England for the weekend; I will miss the dogs and assuming wifi has reached Swindon,  I will be following news on Facebook while Moira takes the helm again.

No, today it was because today two fabulous adoptions took place, plus a dog who had arrived this morning found his owner, and there were no fewer than three reservations.

In terms of adoptees, first to leave was one of the Magic Roundabout puppies, also known as the British Litter. These lab/spaniel crosses of 10 weeks have been in foster with Lisa and Andrew, as they arrived very young and with ringworm, so the refuge would not have been a good environment for them. Today was the first time I had seen them in the flesh, and they are just beautiful. The only female, Flo has a lovely new family, and we have already received news and photos of her in her new home. Her brothers, Dylan and Dougal are still looking for homes, though, so if you like the look of Flo, there are two more just like her just waiting!

Second to leave was Mousline, now Molly. No one noticed this little girl for 3 whole weeks, then a couple made a long journey on Monday from Tarn et Garonne and returned again today to collect their little girl post sterilisation. Thanks to them and also to Doglinks, who found this monkey/cat/dog cross a home. Actually she is a petit brabancon and is gorgeous!

I spent much of the day matchmaking between dogs with the help of Sabrina and Melissa, as a couple wanted to adopt two to go with their elderly female. It took a while, but I am delighted with the outcome, as I am sure they will be when both dogs have been “done” and leave the refuge. Satisfying indeed.

And it being school holidays, there were quite a few volunteers walking at the refuge, so there are some tired and happy dogs tonight.

Yesterday I failed to mention the adoption of Megan. The reason for this is that I had known for several weeks that she was going to stay with her foster family, and it has just been a question of sorting out paperwork. Apparently this has been done, so Megan has now officially left the refuge, even though she never spent a single night at the SPA other than on paper!

Some of you may remember this girl, who arrived at the end of April after what appeared to have been an attack with a staple gun. Luckily one of our volunteers was at hand to take this terrified dog home to recuperate, and the love affair began. The husband had never wanted a dog, but Megan knew how to win his heart. Clever girl, Megan.

I am sure you will agree from the photos that this once-terrified dog has undergone quite a transformation!

Now you know why, like Megan, I have a smile on my face!
Flo finds a home








Mousline (Molly) is adopted too, thanks to Doglinks










Megan when she arrived at the end of April








And Megan now, complete with Superwoman cape