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Latest News

Galion sails off

Today the refuge was extremely chaotic, however once the dust had settled we took stock, and in fact there had only been 2 new doggy arrivals. More information on them once we know whether they are with us to stay or whether their owners will come and get them; certainly not looking likely for the tiny girl who was found in an empty flat, three weeks after her owners moved out. Ho hum

There was a lovely adoption today, however, and again I must thank and congratulate the SPA employees and volunteers for the transformation that has taken place with this dog.

Galion was abandoned a the refuge in mid-March due to a house move (an all too common excuse). He was just terrified and had obviously never been socialised. We decided the best medicine would be to share his kennel with an outgoing dog, and here lovely gentle Casper helped out. Casper was adopted, and Galion found another kennel mate, as by now he was far more confident.

Just look at the photos of Galion when he arrived, cowering in his kennel, and on Saturday when he was out on a walk. Isn’t that amazing. The family who adopted him today will be very happy with their lively outgoing dog. He will have a far better life than his original owners would have given him. His three months at the refuge have helped him on his way, there is no doubt!

Oh, and I promised you photos of the little jack Russell who arrived yesterday, and they are certainly worth waiting for. She is teeny tiny and is very sweet and gentle. Good with other dogs, too! Her name is Vanilla and she is already a refuge favourite!

Galion when he arrived
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Galion when he left! Didn’t he (and we) do well!







Vanilla; who can resist?

When is a dog not a dog? When it is a goat, of course!

Well, this afternoon started off in rather bizarre fashion with a call from our vet to tell us that another vet had treated an injured dog (unidentified of course), and that they would take over if we wished. Later on it turned out that the dog was in fact a goat, and its owners came to collect it!

Then GOOD news! Expected, but no less wonderful for that. In July last year two very timid dogs were brought to the SPA. Their owner had died, and no one in the family wanted to keep the dogs (was it ever thus). Dick and Docker arrived, both scared out of their wits, and the hard work of getting them socialised began. As many volunteers will tell you, getting them out of their shared kennel required enormous patience. I think the first time took over an hour. Gradually however they started to trust people, and they loved being away from the noise of the refuge, so became better at leaving the safety of the kennel.  Then they were spotted by a lovely English couple. Or rather Dick was. His future owners were unable to take him immediately so decided to start walking him on a regular basis, which led to them taking Docker out as well one day. I recall rushing out to take photographs of Docker on their return only to be met with the words “Don’t bother”. This was because they had decided to adopt both dogs!

Today was the big day, and after almost exactly one year, Dick and Docker are finally free, and still together. Now that is what I call a result!

The other (unexpected) news of the day was the adoption of Shenzy, our Dutch Shepherd, who despite her young age was never going to be easy to home as she had a history of biting. Any family taking her would have to go to dog school and commit to educating her to avoid serious behavioural problems. Many thanks to Melissa (employee and also volunteer) who fostered Shenzy and made her adoptable!

The only really bad thing today was the arrival of a 7 year old female jack Russell who is identified but whose owner doesn’t want her as she was stolen SIX YEARS AGO! I will post pictures of her when I have some, hopefully tomorrow. Some people never give up searching for dogs that they have lost, and others just don’t seem to care. Strange….

Goodbye Dick and Docker, you lucky boys!








Bye-bye Shenzy, I will see you at dog training school, I am sure


Fun fundraiser coming up!

I mentioned that there were several dog-walkers at the SPA yesterday. Well two of them, Karen and John, can be seen in the background of the picture of Ripley. These lovely people have decided to organise a fund-raising event for the SPA, and I attach a photo which tells you all you need to know.
We are always short of funds, as unlike the Paris group of SPAs, which receive lots of money, we are  financiallyindependent. I won’t go too much into the reasons why, but being independent gives us the freedom to choose our own staff and decide what brand of dog and cat food to give our animals. A certain degree of autonomy is a good thing, however it does mean that money is tight. We insist on giving the best vet care possible and injured animals are treated when other refuges would perhaps take the decision to cut their losses and put the dog or cat to sleep.

So thank you so much to Karen and John. The evening is guaranteed to be fun; this is not the first time they have run an event like this. The food will be excellent and there will be a mixture of French and English, so it will be an great opportunity to meet new people. Maybe it will inspire you to join the ever-growing team of SPA volunteers. Numbers at the event are limited to 70, so don’t delay! Karen’s contact details are on the poster.

In other SPA news, I have been on tenterhooks all day wondering how Ripley was doing, and I was delighted to receive a message via the Facebook page to tell us that she has been welcomed into her new home by her two new doggy pals and is already settling in nicely. I am so pleased for her. Lovely girl and clever enough to know when she is well off! Thanks again to her new family, and who knows, I might just pop in one day to say hello! You’d better search the boot of my car when I leave, though!


Blubbing like a baby….

Today has been extremely emotional for me. Sometimes you cannot explain the feelings you have for a certain dog. It is a bit like love between humans; the heart goes where the heart goes. For me, Ripley, AKA Punk, is one of those special dogs. She arrived in a terrible state, skeletal and covered in ticks and fleas. Our first job was to fatten her up and get her well, but we also went to enormous lengths to track down her owner, as she had a Dutch micro-chip. Thanks to the wonders of the internet we tracked down the last place she lived officially, in a disused railway yard outside Amsterdam. Homeless people can be excellent dog owners, so this did not deter us, however after 6 weeks, with no sign of anyone looking for her, we decided that Ripley needed a new home.
At ten years old, this was not going to be easy, but thanks to our good friends at Doglinks, today Ripley left for a new home. I wanted to have my photo taken with her (in another life this would have been MY DOG!) but by the time she left I was all red and blotchy from crying. It is such a hard moment; you want a home for your favourite dogs, but you want it to be YOUR home….I was so torn.
Her new family have promised photos and news….It is not the same as having Ripley in my house, but better than her being at the refuge (I keep telling myself). Mind you, the way my dog Bella was behaving on her walk this morning I would have liked to have done a swap….

No less important  and miraculous was the departure of Hercule, the elderly Pyrenean Mountain dog who arrived recently. His new family are fabulous too, and he has a new girlfriend of the same breed to play with.

Sadly I missed the departure of Isaac, but here is a photo of him when he arrived. A truly lovely boy.

Three adoptions today and no dogs in, and loads of dogs were walked. So despite my tears, it was a good day!

Ripley when she arrived







And leaving us today, healthy and happy. Good bye Ripley. I will miss you. 











Hercule leaves  the SPA









Lovely Isaac finds a home too!


A dog and her owner reunited and more details of upcoming event

Below you can see a photo of Matilda, an English bull terrier who went walkabouts at a busy intersection of Carcassonne yesterday. By this morning her owner, an Englishman, had done all the right things: contacted the Police, put a photo on chien-perdu (see links page) and contacted the SPA and this website. Traffic is always a worry, as is dog-napping, and I was particularly concerned about the possibility of the latter, as this breed is popular amongst the more undesirable elements of society for reproduction or for fighting. The announcement on the Facebook page emphasised that Matilda was a lover, not a fighter, and also that she is sterilised. In any case, before the refuge had even opened, Matilda had been found and brought into the SPA, where her delighted owner collected her and made a very generous donation.
Now for me this is the main reason why we are here. Not re-homing dogs and cats for divorcing couples, not trying to home all the unwanted puppies and kittens because people refuse to sterilise their animals. It gladdened my heart, to be honest, after all the bad news of recent days.
By the way, if your French is not good enough to follow all the steps to find your dog, just let us know that you need help; we will put the announcement on chien-perdu for you and do everything we can to reunite you with your pet. There is a chat-perdu site too!

Also below you can see the photograph from the press conference that was held on Wednesday, along with a poster advertising the upcoming event. On Tuesday and Wednesday (June 18th and 19th) you can drop off any dog or cat-related donations at the old mayor’s office on Rue Aime Raymond in Carcassonne. But your donations are welcome at the refuge at any time too, of course!

Naughty Matilda with her puppy (who did NOT go missing!)

miss my mum











The children from the Children’s Town Council (note that Baileys is checking that Lucky is not making another faux pas!)









And the poster for the event. Please come and see us!


Good day for two dogs and I do a four minute mile.

Today was interesting. A man showed up to collect his unidentified dog and refused to let our vet (5 minutes from the SPA) do the microchipping. So someone (ie muggins here) had to take the dog to the man’s own vet, in a nearby village. Annoying in itself, but nothing compared to when he accidentally released his newly micro-chipped dog. She is 10 months old and completely untrained and decided to run randomly across the road and along the canal, dodging cars. I set off in pursuit. Or rather in HOT pursuit, as it was about a million degrees out there. All ended well with dog and owner being reunited and me deciding that I really am too old for this!
Back at the refuge two of our dogs were adopted together! Triana is a recent arrival, but Hony had been with us for six months, having been abandoned at the age of six months. Being a black labrador it was never going to find it easy for him to find a home, but he has done so and we wish him and Triana a long and happy life together.
When Hony arrived he was extremely timid and the fact that he is now so well socialised is down to the employees and volunteers at the refuge, but we also have to thank Kayser, who has been sharing a box with Hony having been re-abandoned. He showed Hony the ropes and helped him settle  in. Maybe it will be Kayser’s turn soon….
Thanks to the volunteers who came along today, there was a lovely new family who came along for the first time, as well as several old hands. Always a pleasure to see you and you really do make a difference to the dogs’ and cats’ lives!

Goodbye Triana and Hony









Kayser, Hony’s mentor, is left at the SPA


An Upcoming Event

Today I and a few other volunteers took part in a press conference concerning an upcoming event, organised by the Carcassonne Children’s Council. The newly elected members, who are all aged about 7, have chosen as their first activity to do a collection for the SPA.  Today we launched the pre-event publicity. I will upload a poster when one is available, but on June 18th and 19th volunteers will be on hand to accept donations (food, accessories, anti tick collars etc) for the SPA dogs and cats in the centre of Carcassonne.
Here is photo of two of our young volunteers, Megan and Marie, each with a SPA dog. They chose Lucky and Baileys as both are used to people and are good poster dogs for the SPA. Having said that, excitement got the better of Lucky and he left a present on the floor. The “situation” was dealt with efficiently by another volunteer, and I don’t think any of the press photographers managed to take a picture in time. Phew!
Meanwhile at the refuge there were two new arrivals but two dogs were reserved. I will save news of their adoptions until they actually leave (don’t want to jinx anything), so watch this space!

Megan and Marie with Lucky and Baileys


Finally an Adoption!

The weather was good today and several volunteers came along to walk dogs, including two new recruits who visit Carcassonne for work from time to time and would like to walk dogs when they are here and sponsor dogs while they not. So that was the first bit of good news.
Then a couple of people came to collect their dogs (both of them had just arrived and both were micro-chipped, so we were hopeful that they would be reclaimed). Then finally the best news of the day: an ADOPTION!
Been a while since I wrote that word on this blog, hasn’t it?
Jordi is a young border collie who had been abandoned as his owner did not have enough time to look after him. He has now gone to a home with a large enclosed garden and an owner who is there all day every day. Initially very nervous of people, as soon as Jordi got into the car he seemed to metamorphose. He sat on the passenger seat with a huge smile on his face  as he left the refuge. I am so happy for him, he has seen many of his kennel mates leave and he must have started to wonder why no one wanted him. Finally his patience has been rewarded. Just look at that smile!

Jordi smiling as he leaves the SPA


Just when you think things can’t get worse…….

This morning when they arrived at work, the SPA employees found a dog waiting for them at the gate. He looked familiar, and sure enough our microchip reader revealed that this was none other than Hector, who had been adopted from us in March this year. Phew, he has an owner. However a phone call soon revealed yet another tale of irresponsibility and selfishness. Hector’s owners were not happy to hear from the SPA. In fact it was they who had left him at the refuge gates. The reason? This weekend he had three epileptic fits. At least they assume they were epileptic fits; they had not taken Hector to the vet, just decided that they didn’t want a sick dog.
Nice, eh? So this six year old German Shepherd is looking for a new home, just three months after leaving the refuge. Needless to say we had no idea that he was ill (and indeed it may not be epilepsy). Had we known, we would have warned the adopters. And had they contacted us today, rather than just abandon the dog (and, I add, according to the contract which they signed), we may well have been able to come to an arrangement concerning treatment. But that would require them to have had a modicum of affection for the dog.
At the moment with the number of dogs being brought back, I almost feel as if we are renting out dogs, a bit like you would rent out a car to see if you like it enough to keep. Heaven alone knows what the dogs must think, when they are brought back, and in Hector’s case he must be even more confused, as he will be scared after his weekend experiences.
I understand the world less and less and time goes on.

However a lovely photo arrived, which went a long way to cheer me up. Here you can see Sveltesse (now just Tess), with Precious (now Minette) and Roxanne (still Roxanne). All three were adopted from the SPA in the past month, and have formed a solid bond in their new home. All together now….Aaaah.

Hector needs a new house.









A happy trio of ex SPA inmates!


Dogs: often the first casualty of divorce.

I mentioned yesterday that a dog had been brought back to the SPA due to a divorce. Sadly it is often the animals that are disposed of first, sometimes even before the house has been sold and the CD collection shared out. The husband’s return to the UK is hardly an excuse; after all since DEFRA changed the requirements regarding rabies vaccinations 18 months ago, a dog can return to the UK just three weeks after vaccination. No need for a blood test and a six month wait.

Poor little Dyson has had no luck at all. Found towards the end of last year and brought to the refuge, this medium pinscher was so happy when he found a home in January, at the age of six months. Now at just over a year old, he is back at the SPA. When he arrived on Saturday, he may have thought he was just coming to say hello. Lots of our “old boys” pay us visits to show how happy they are. However when he was put into a kennel, the cruel reality hit him. One of the employees, who was a volunteer during Dyson’s last stay, tried to comfort him, as you can see in this picture. But this little boy knows all too well that weeks, possibly months of shelter life lie in front of him. This is so much harder when none of this is his fault and he is just the casualty of his owners’ marital difficulties.

I hope it is not too long before Dyson finds a new home, however with all the other dogs to choose from, we all know it could take some time for him to be adopted. Next time let’s hope it really is forever.

Dyson- Back to square one