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Freedom for Falco!

Today was one of the days that I just dread. I arrived at the refuge at just after opening time to be told that 5 dogs had arrived already. It was clearly not going to be a good afternoon. It is possible that some of the dogs are lost and that their owners will look for them, but seeing the state of a couple of them, this is not very likely. And two of them are young puppies, obviously from an unwanted litter. I would like to think that the dog’s owners have learned a lesson and will now have her sterilised, but in my heart I know otherwise.

However we have to keep going, even when things are grim. The resident dogs still need walking and there were several volunteers on hand to help. One girl was awaiting the arrival of her cat from his vet visit, and she is our newest dog-walking recruit!

We also had a very VERY good adoption today. After nearly 8 months at the refuge, our lovely border collie, Falco, finally found a new home. He is going to be so happy, he has a new girlfriend (don’t tell him that he has been castrated!) and will be living in a fully enclosed garden with a very active retired couple. The husband used to be a dog handler and they still do long long walks every day. Lucky Falco. His adoption was thanks to a couple of French volunteers, Laurene and Dominique, who write short articles for the local press; not all of them hit the mark, but this one certainly did! Thanks girls!

Sadly Falco’s long term kennel mate, Bond, is now left behind. We found him a new friend to share with, but it would be nice if someone would notice him, too! Perhaps another press article beckons!!!

Bye bye lovely boy! 







Bond will miss you









And some new  little ones arrive 🙁


A master of disguise

Today I popped to the vet to make an appointment for one of my pack where I met a dog who had been adopted from us about seven months ago, so I had a cuddle. I then went to a local garden centre where the cashier (who is a SPA supporter) told me that she had found an injured kitten on the ring-road last night and she would be bringing it in this afternoon. The man next in the queue then realised who I was, and started asking me questions about what to do about the stray animals in his village. If anyone has a false beard and sunglasses I can borrow it would be nice!

As far as the refuge is concerned, today has been fairly typical. Phone calls from people reporting mistreatment or abandonment of dogs in their neighbourhoods, a couple of dogs brought in (luckily both small so theoretically easy to home) and a reservation (but you know me and my superstition about notifying you of adoptions before they actually take place, so you will have to wait a bit!)

There is a French poster circulating on the Facebook (where the SPA Carcassonne is very active; if you don’t yet follow us, please do so, www.facebook.com/SPA.CARCASSONNE . ) One of our computer-savvy volunteers has changed the photo to show three of our own animals, Bond, Baileys and Carole (the cat, not the secretary!). The text has also been translated into English, so I am posting it here and asking you to spread the message. Not buying puppies from anyone other than registered and reputable breeders is the key to solving the whole mess we are in.
Here are a photo of the two new arrivals; details on them both will arrive in due course! Guess we were are having a breakfast cereal theme day!























The Campaign Poster.


Bit more relaxing today (phew!)

Today being a Sunday, there has not been much going on at the SPA. However our volunteers are always busy, be it inside or outside the refuge. Today it has been mostly work on the internet, with updates going on to this and the French version, and answering questions on Facebook (one of them has almost certainly resulted in an adoption, so big news expected on Friday)

Other Sundays see us busy in other, more active ways. Last Sunday being a good example:
Several months ago a couple of a certain age, as they say in France, arrived at the refuge to adopt a dog as a playmate for their own dog. I chatted to them briefly and told asked them to do the tour of the refuge to see who they liked the look of before making any introductions. They returned shortly afterwards to ask about a little old Yorkie who was cowering in his box, having recently arrived at the refuge. Fred and Margaret have a soft spot for Yorkies, having had them before. They left the refuge with heavy hearts, as adopting an old dog was not at all what they had planned. However the next day, unable to get Alfie (or Flamenco as he then was) off their minds, they came to the refuge to take him home to foster. This means that Alfie (who would have been extremely difficult to home, due to his age and the inevitable vets bills) has a loving home, and Fred and Margaret are to all intents and purposes his owners.

This was the start of Fred and Margaret’s devotion to the SPA. Fred is often to be seen at Vide Greniers, including the one at Esperaza  last week, getting up at truly unearthly hours to catch the punters, and all their “earnings” are sent to us at the refuge. We get regular updates and photos, and Alfie gets treatment from the SPA vet. Fred’s donations easily cover Alfie’s bills, and everyone is happy, especially, I suspect, a certain Yorkie!

Now we do not expect this from all our foster families. Some of them act as short term homes for puppies or dogs who have behavioural problems. However it is a fabulous arrangement, and I salute Fred and Margaret for their commitment to Alfie and the SPA.
If you spot him at any vide greniers, go and say hi. And if you have anything you would like to donate to be “car-booted”, you know where to bring it!

Here is Margaret with Floss and a very contented Alfie
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High drama at the SPA

Question: Can two women in the prime of life (!) with a total weight of about 110 kg stop a car from reversing? How about if the car contains two adults and two dogs, one of which in in the process of being stolen by her owner but is unidentified? Answer; Well, not quite, but we provided a bit of a distraction, which gave me enough time to yank open the car door and nick the car keys. Meanwhile my fellow Wonderwoman was extracting the stolen dog and returning it to the refuge. I then got a bit potty-mouthed (sorry, mum) and we called the police.

Several other employees and volunteers stopped anyone (mostly me) from being attacked, and all the SPA neighbours came out to have a look. Two lots of police arrived and we then spent 90 minutes in negotiation. End result? The dog left identified, but the keys to all the refuge doors (which had been stolen when the crazy lady broke in last week) have been lost, apparently thrown into the canal. As for the medicines and syringes she stole, we can only assume that they have all been used.

Never a dull day! The police have assured us that a prosecution will not result in financial compensation, so if anyone reading this can help us replace the barrel locks on the doors of the puppy house and the parks, we would be very grateful. Thanks to everyone who helped out today. No one steals our dogs! We are small but mighty!

In other news, little Vanilla was adopted but her place was taken by a dog at least ten times her size. Here is the newest resident of the SPA, Grizzly, a beautiful gentle but lively Newfoundland!

I am off to have a glass of wine! I am too old for this sort of excitement!

Vanilla leaves










But look who arrived!


Tonight I am very angry

The day started off badly and got worse. When arriving at work the employees were greeted by five very young puppies. And I mean VERY young. Who knows if they will survive. The person who left them there clearly doesn’t care. Keep your fingers crossed for them (there is a picture of one of them, below, they are the Celebrity Litter, this male is called Mabrouk).

They were closely followed in by five kittens,  four from the same litter, plus an extra one who is really tiny. Why don’t people sterilise their animals?

The thing that has made me really angry, though, is the story of a certain dog. We call her Kitty, though her owner calls her Princess. And not because she is treated like one; not at all. We saw Kitty for the first time several months ago, she was identified and so when her owner came to collect her we let her leave on the proviso that she took her dog to the grooming salon. Kitty came back three weeks ago, and I have never seen a dog in such an appalling state. As I hope the photos show, her fur was so long that her paws looked like ducks feet. She could hardly move as the fur under her arms was all matted. Before giving her a haircut we took photos and called in the cruelty inspector to have an independent witness . The vets certificate says that the dog has an untreated leg fracture and a tooth abscess has become so infected that Kitty has an eye infection.

Her owner came to reclaim her yesterday (our attempts to hide her failed) and is taking us to court to repossess the dog. Why do people like this even want dogs?  For the moment Kitty is safe, living with a foster family. Her eye was operated on today. We will do our best to keep her away from her former owner, but so far we have a zero record of winning cases like this. It costs us lots of money, which we don’t have, and lots of time and heartache, too.

That is why I am angry!

Mabrouk, one of five puppies who arrived today










Kitty. Would you let the owner have this dog back?

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Three in and three out, plus a welcome return (of a non-canine variety!)

Well, the news I hinted at yesterday came to pass; well one of the adoptions, in any case. For the other you will have to wait, there is a castration pending!
Today saw the adoption of Tyson. He is a Romanian shepherd cross who is one of the longest serving dogs at the refuge. He had been with us for 18 months this time, but it was not the first time he had been at the refuge. The first time he was returned due to wandering (he lived in the same village and kept coming back to play with his pals when he was left alone in an unfenced garden alone all day). The second time it was because he chased cars (er, hello!). This time we hope it is for ever. We have explained all his so-called “faults” and his new owners are prepared to put in some work. We are lucky in Carcassonne with several excellent dog training schools nearby.

The two puppies who were in foster care with one of our employees also left, and that same employee, the wonderful Carole, also returned from maternity leave today and is back manning the desk.She never really disappeared as she has been busy the entire time on the internet. I think she was trying to home dogs the same day that her son was born! Better yet, due to changes in French employment contracts, we are able to keep Melissa, who has been doing such a great job standing in for Carole while she was off.  Fabulous news, especially as both of them are qualified dog trainers, so they can both get out of the office and put some dogs through their paces without having to answer the ever-ringing phone.

Sadly we had three dogs brought in today, but who knows, maybe their owners are looking for them. Stranger things have happened! In any case, with the departure of Tyson and the return of Carole, today is officially a GOOD DAY!

Goodbye Tyson. Third time lucky!






Syrah and Merlot, who were also adopted today, with Carole








 And the rest of Carole (whoever took that last photo was not looking at her face!!)

Several hours and 400kg of dog and cat food later…..

Well, today was day two of the collection to benefit the SPA organised by the Children’s Council of Carcassonne. I spent several hours there, along with a number of volunteers and lots of very enthusiastic children. It was about as noisy as the refuge to be honest, but loads of fun. Here are some photos of the children, along with some of the 400 or so kg of croquettes that were collected during the two days.

The main aim, as well as collecting dog and cat food, was to make people aware of the problems faced by the refuge, especially as summer approaches and people tend to abandon their animals. Lots of journalists attended and asked questions of the children, all of whom were extremely well- informed about the issues. Oh, if only they will take this awareness with them into adulthood!

Back at the refuge there were a couple of fabulous reservations, however, in my usual cautious manner, I am saying nothing until the dogs leave. But if you want some amazing news, you may want to read the blog tomorrow (says she, fingers firmly crossed behind her back!)

Informing the next generation









This is what 400kg of dog and cat food looks like! Thanks kids!


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!