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Four Dog Friday – The Sequel!

Does that sound like a good film title for a follow up to last week’s blog, Four dog Friday? What a coincidence! This is a weekly routine I could get quite used to!

Yes, four dogs left us today. I am happy for all of them, but for two in particular. As puppies, Clyde and Frolo would always find it easier to be adopted than the older dogs, even if it took longer than they would have liked. Both of them have been with us for four weeks, which is a long time in the life of a puppy. But now they can play to their heart’s content and get all the love and attention that puppies need.

Clyde leaves

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So does Frolo










However It is the adoptions of the two adults that has really cheered me up. Firstly it was the turn of Gaia, a lovely golden coloured shepherd cross, who arrived identified but whose registered owner had given her away and did not have the name of the new owner. (Grrr!).  Gaia has been with us since the end of May, sharing her kennel with a pal and making the most of her new situation. I am so glad she was picked today. She was quite discrete and sometimes dogs like her get overlooked. Perhaps it was the pink stripe down the middle of her nose that sealed the deal; that is certainly what I fell for!

Goodbye Gaia








Then for me the adoption of the day. Maybe even of the week. Who remembers Hera, also known as the Bullet Dog? Her owner brought her in as she was no longer wanted. When we asked for a donation to help pay for her upkeep (she was not identified, vaccinated or sterilised), he told us that the bullet with which he was planning on shooting her cost a euro, so that is all he was prepared to pay. Well, yah boo sucks to you, Monsieur! Hera has a lovely new home as of today!

Loads more tummy rubs are awaiting Hera








As ever it was not all good news. Three new dogs arrived, so today has not made much of a dent in the numbers. But you have to look at the dogs as individuals not as an overall mass, and four dogs are happier tonight than they were this morning, for sure!

Amazing teamwork takes Polly to freedom!

It has been a busy day or so. As well as all the usual comings (numerous) and goings (far too few) of the refuge, there have been other activities.

Thanks to some super-human organisational skills and fabulous networking, Polly, a lab cross who has been at the refuge for almost exactly a year (date of arrival 14th August 2012) is now on her way to her new owner. They are a British couple who live in Alsace, and who found Polly thanks to Doglinks. So Polly had to make her way to them, a journey of some 975 kms. Of course, there are professionals or semi-professionals who can be employed to deliver dogs, but sometimes goodwill is the best (and cheapest) way.

Yesterday morning, and via Facebook, the sister of the owner one of our former residents, Napoleon, offered to do the bulk of the journey (Valence to Sarreguemine). So now we had to find Carcassonne-Valence. A SPA volunteer, Martine, offered to go as far as Montpelier, but after that we were stuck. Then out of the blue, Muriel, a girl whom I had met for lunch at the home of a great friend and SPA supporter, Sharon, contacted me. She could do Montpelier to Valence. This whole mess was given to the indefatigable Carole to sort out. And she did it! Phone numbers were exchanged, meeting points were set up and within an hour Polly was on her way!

Polly will spend a couple of nights at various houses en route, but we know all the people involved and we are receiving photos at each step of the way. We do not let our dogs leave with just anyone!
Oh, I mustn’t forget the donation sent by Didi, who follows us by internet and wanted to help offset the transport costs.

What an amazing example of team work!  I think Carole still has some hair left, but I have a feeling I owe her a drink or two!

In other SPA news, two dogs who were brought in to the SPA two days ago were collected by their owner, which was good news. The female, who turned out to be the mother, was identified and now so is the son! Turns out they had been wandering around lost for a week, but the owner had not thought to contact the SPA. They were very tired and dehydrated when they arrived and so I repeat again my plea for people to put down water for stray animals in places where they may gather.

Oh, and after some technical problems, our twitter feed is back up and running. Thanks Veronique, who is tweeting bilingually. So you can improve your French and keep up to date at the same time!


Polly behind bars








Out of her kennel…












And on her first overnight stop



Young and Full of Fun !


When we look at the ages of the dogs abandoned at the SPA it comes as no surprise to see that a large proportion of the dogs are adolescents. We certainly see a lot of unruly young dogs aged between 6 and 18 months who have had no training and have become too much for their owners to handle. A cute puppy jumping up at you can be amusing, but it’s much less funny when the dog jumping up is a fully grown Newfoundland! All of these undesirable behaviors are so easily avoided if an dog is trained and socialised correctly but its surprising how many people seem to think that pups will train themselves!

This is also one of the main reasons we prefer our puppies to go into a foster home rather than stay at the refuge. In a foster home the pup is very carefully socialized and training begins right away which really sets the pup up for a positive future. When all of foster places are full we have no option but to look after the pups as best we can and they often go and live in the cat house.  This may seem surprising but it allows pups access to an outside run as well as ensuring that they will be able to go to homes with resident cats. They soon become quite proficient at negotiating the cat flaps and most can make it through without any problems. I have only seen one pup struggle and that was of course a chubby Labrador!  Two more pups arrived today and we will soon be unable to accept anymore.  The only way to prevent this recurring problem is to sterilize your pets!

For the other youngsters who arrive and have never been adequately socialized or had any training, all they need is a new start. These issues are all very easy to overcome and with a bit of patience and understanding you will be amazed at how quickly these dogs learn and become superb family pets. We do try our best to teach these youngsters lead skills and to get them socialized as much as possible and its very rewarding to see a dog who pulled like a tractor, trotting alongside you to heel. Don’t forget if you get a dog from us and encounter any behavioral problems we are more than happy to give advice. We are really lucky to have 2 dog trainers who are staff members and also volunteer, so you are never alone!

Here are some of our youngsters looking for a home.

Hood a lovely Dalmatian cross.



Griffo – a cross Griffon



Nero – a handsome Labrador.



The Scottish Connection

It’s a bit of a mystery how, but we have been having lots of enquiries from Scotland about some of our fantastic European breeds of dogs!  We have a beautiful Braque Allemand leaving on Saturday, a Ariegeois going to Barra in September and two Brittany Spaniels going to live in Gourdon near Aberdeen. Then to top it off today a lovely couple from outside Edinburgh arrived and reserved a Bleu de Gascogne! This lucky girl will be going to a very experienced doggy home as her new mum shows and trains dogs!

This is fantastic news for these dogs and especially exciting for me as the Braque Allemand is going to my sons so will be my very first ‘grand doggy’!  She will be leaving on Saturday with myself and  5 other animals …we never miss out on a free travel space!

Through our web and social media sites more and more Brits are spotting dogs which are rarely available in UK  rescues and even although the logistics of getting a dog to them may take a lot of effort,  the positive feed back we have got from previously  UK homed dogs really validates all our efforts.  Lots of people ask us why we bother taking dogs to the UK when there are already lots of dogs needing homes over there. The only answer I have is, if something motivates a person to make any dogs life better be it here or in the UK then why not? Of course most of the criticizers don’t actually do anything to help but I guess that is true in every walk of life!

If anyone is driving to the UK or indeed has friends or family who are driving and wouldn’t mind a furry passenger we would love to hear from you as we now have three dogs waiting to go anytime from the end of August .  I can promise you that the feel good factor you will have from helping a rescue animal towards a bright and happy future is well worth the effort!

Here are some of our European Breeds still looking for a home.

Cherokee – a Basset Fauve de Bretagne.


Bench – a Berger Pyrénées


Éclair – a Griffon cross.







Day of mixed news

Three lovely adoptions today. Firstly was that of Frank, one of the puppies who have been staying with Andrew and Lisa. Betty is still looking for a home, but although she will miss her brother, she still has 3 playmates, and hopefully someone will fall for her charms very soon.

 Frank with his proud new dad










Secondly beautiful Belle left us. This young golden retriever was brought to the refuge when her Irish owner died. She had been well looked after and was very upset to find herself at the SPA, but no one from the family wanted to take her on, so there was no alternative. Belle responded to commands in English, so it is only fitting that she should be adopted by and English gentleman who travelled a long way to collect her. He had just lost his golden retriever at age 16 and a half, and we hope Belle lives as long and as happily a life as Molly did and if she visits even half the European countries that Molly did, she will be one of our most travelled dogs. I am looking forward to seeing pictures of her in exotic locations!

Safe travels Belle












Then it was the turn of Loubar, another puppy and one who is going to be a very big boy when he is adult. Again we see the benefit of having so many highly motivated volunteers, as Loubar’s new owner is a friend of a volunteer, and she, too, came a long way to collect him. Oh, the power of Facebook!

Loubar left too









Actually there was a fourth  adoption, but this took place yesterday and was from Animal Trust, in Belgium. http://www.animaltrust.be/. This is the privately run refuge that took five dogs from Carcassonne in April. The fourth of these dogs, Jojo, left with his new family tomorrow. He was a favourite with one of the young Animal Trust volunteers, Amber, who sponsored him and also took him to in-house training classes.

Jojo leaves Animal Trust











Sadly as ever it was not all good news. Four more dogs were brought to the refuge and at least six more have been reported as having been found in local villages and will arrive at the refuge in the next day or so.  Experience tells us that many of their owners will have just left them to wander while they are off enjoying the sun somewhere. Expecting any animal to fend for itself in this heat is simply inhumane, so thank you to everyone who is putting out water for stray animals. An old bucket of water placed next to where lost animals are likely to be drawn (dustbins etc) can really save their lives.


Do you ever need English-speaking vet advice? If so, read on!

Well, despite it being the first Sunday of the month, we decided not to open our doors today. We are simply not having enough visitors in this hot weather to justify asking the volunteers, many of whom work full time, to give up their Sunday. The dogs don’t enjoy the heat too much either, so they are best off alone in the shade of their kennels than pushing themselves against the bars of their cages in a desperate attempt to get noticed.

So rather than write about dogs, today I am going to write about a new service that may be of interest to some of you. In fact it should be of interest to anyone who has cats or dogs or other domestic pets.

I have spoken on a number of occasions about Lisa and Andrew. They have taken SPA puppies to foster (in fact they currently have two, Frank and Betty at their home) They also support the SPA with their catering van at many of our events, and are great friends of the refuge. Lisa is particularly useful as she is a veterinary nurse.

She and Andrew have just launched a business to help pet owners in France. This service is not usually available to individuals, but Andrew has negotiated a special deal for Brits living in France.

The aim of the service is to provide English speakers in France access to high quality veterinary advice when it is most needed. A dedicated telephone line puts you in touch with a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons registered veterinary nurse.  This can avoid a costly (and often unnecessary) trip to a French vet, and is particularly useful to people who struggle with the language.

The service costs just €65 for a full year’s membership, or € 4.50 if paid by direct debit (a 16% saving). As I know from experience, a single out of hours emergency visit to the vet can cost this much, and being an over-protective mum, I have made several visits for my four dogs only to be told that everything is normal.

Best of all, for every person who subscribes via a referral from the SPA, Andrew will make a donation to the SPA.

The website is http://www.vetadvice247.com Have a look for yourself. And if you subscribe, please don’t forget to say you found them thanks to the SPA.

Here is Andrew with their lab, Mr Bumble and the two foster pups, Frank and Betty.

SPA picture



Urgent appeal reaps immediate results

Sometimes things happen that just help to restore your faith in humankind. Today three puppies were adopted, but tonight’s blog concerns one of these adoptions in particular.

I have told you about our wonderful fostering system, and how these  families help puppies on their way to a better life. Some puppies are already badly traumatised by the time they reach us, and it is heart-breaking to think what these dogs must have been through at so young an age. One such pup is Aby, who arrived at the SPA on July 10th. She was just three months old at the time, but had clearly been beaten and was scared of her own shadow.

Direct action came in the form of Carole, the SPA secretary, who took Aby home to live with her 3 dogs, 4 (I think) cats, husband and two children, one of whom is four years old and the other is a babe in arms. Since then Aby has progressed enormously, as was expected. However the family are just a week away from leaving for a week’s holiday, and were desperate that Aby be homed beforehand, as opposed to coming to the refuge.

An appeal was put out on Facebook this morning, and a family who just happened to be in Carcassonne from their home in Marseille came to meet Aby. They had already adopted a dog from the SPA, and she came along to see what her new pal was like. It was love at first sight, and after a short walk to see how Aby behaved when out of the refuge, off she went!

Sometimes it is just a question of timing, but Aby has been so lucky, finding a family with children and another dog to play with. She trotted off happily, leaving a tearful but happy Carole in her wake.

The other lucky pups were Belle and Idefix, but don’t despair, we have plenty more pups, as well as adult dogs of all shapes and sizes!

Aby with her new mum and dad








Four-dog Friday!

Four lucky dogs left the refuge today. Firstly was Bill, the young Podenco. I am delighted that he has found a home, as he has been with us for 6 weeks. That may not sound like very long, but he was just four and a half months old when he arrived, so for him it was quite long enough.

Second to leave was Amelie. She is a beautiful border collie who arrived at the refuge at the end of May. In fact the people who adopted her today were her original owners, but as their details were not up to date on the register in Paris we had no way of getting in touch with them. We published her photo all over the internet, but no one came forward for her. This meant that Amelie had defaulted to belonging to the refuge, and so the couple paid a normal adoption fee. Still 120 euros for 10 weeks kennelling is not bad. ..Am I becoming cynical at all, do you think?

Next  out was little Angel, a puppy who has been with us for a month. He came in at eight weeks old, and although I am delighted that he has found a home, it is awful to think of him being found lost and alone at such a young age. Why don’t people sterilise their dogs?

Then the adoption of the day. Some dogs are easier to home than others, and the dogs I would put in the “difficult” category are hunt type dogs. Even when they are clearly poor hunters (otherwise they wouldn’t be with us; a good hunter is valuable).  In any case, in mid-January one of our volunteers brought us two exhausted chasse dogs who had been lying in a ditch. As a volunteer it is never easy bringing a dog to the refuge, but of course, as yesterday’s blog illustrates, we are but the stepping stone to a better life. Today the first of the sisters, Maisie, was adopted.

She was the kennel mate of Tesson and it strikes me as more than coincidence that she should be adopted so soon after Tesson left. Sometimes changing a kennel or kennel mate can give a dog the exposure he or she needs to be noticed. Tesson’s adopter, who walked him regularly before the adoption took place, often took Maisie out for a stroll. She became better and better on the lead, and I am sure this helped her on her way, too. Thanks Jeremy.

Bill the Podenco 












Lovely Amelie is found by her owners











Angel leaves too










And Maisie leaves after 6 long months

Hoffen’s progress

Not every day can be filled with good news, but sometimes we take solace from aspects of the SPA’s work other than adoptions. Today’s blog is dedicated to Hoffen, who arrived with us 4 weeks ago in a terrible state. He is a Pyrenean Mountain dog, but it was difficult to see this when he arrived.

An adult male of this breed should weigh about 50kg. When Hoffen arrived he weighed just 26kg. His toenails were very long, and you could see, as well as feel, every single one of his ribs. He was too thin to vaccinate, so instead he went on a programme of eating little and often. This is time- consuming for the employees who have plenty of other duties to keep them busy. But their efforts have paid off. Yesterday Hoffen saw the vet for his 2nd vaccination, and he weighed in at 40 kg. And his toenails have retracted of their own accord (which the vet told us would happen, starvation forces them out of the body, which I didn’t know).

Hoffen  is looking healthy and happy, and no one can tell me that this dog was better off before he arrived at the SPA.

Some of you may know that Hoffen is German for “to hope”, and our wish is that this beautiful boy finds a home where he can continue with his dramatic recovery.

I will certainly let you know when this happens, and if you think you might like to adopt this lovely dog, please get in touch.

Hoffen when he arrived on July 2nd

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But look at him now!


News of an old, old friend!

Today wasn’t all good, with the arrival of four more dogs, one of whom is in a terrible condition and only one of whom is micro-chipped. However a couple of things have helped raise morale. Firstly was the decision by his foster family to adopt Phoebus, the puppy they have been looking after. This wasn’t exactly a given, as the couple have two dogs already, but having seen the photos they took of him while he was in their care (a week’s holiday on the beach, no less), it was clear that they were becoming very attached to him.

A foster family has been lost, but another dog has been homed. So good news!

Then (and especially for Carole), I received a lovely photo today of Ebony, who was adopted from the SPA (where she was called Ebene) about eight months ago as an old arthritic lady (I am talking about the dog, not the adopter). She is in England now, and has come on leaps and bounds. As you can see from the photos she is looking healthy and gleaming. Her muscle tone has improved enormously thanks to a mixture of physiotherapy and water aerobics and she now only refuses to put her back leg on the ground when she is running at speed. We have Doglinks to thank for this one too, and Ebony’s owner is planning on helping more elderly dogs when she makes the move to France. Hurry up Elaine, we need you!

Phoebus, irresistable










And just look at Ebony. Hard to believe this is the same dog

When she first arrived at the SPA









And now