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Visiting some of our dogs who have gone international!

Hi Everyone, it is Darcey here again just for a few days before handing back to Moira.

Despite having a wonderful time and more fun than should be legal for someone of my advancing years, and despite my lack of internet access, the dogs have not been far from my mind. This was partly because I was with Sarah, who lives in Belgium, but is a keen SPA Carcassonne volunteer when she comes to spend time in her family’s home in Limoux.

So after the music festival had finished, we went to spend an afternoon in Melle visiting Animal Trust. For those of you who don’t know, this is a tiny private refuge, who last year homed several so-called hopeless cases from Carcassonne (primarily ex- chasse dogs who had either been at the SPA for ages or whom we just knew would not get homed). And in April Sarah delivered a further five Carcassonne dogs, who are now enjoying life much more than they were in the confines of our refuge.

It was lovely seeing them all playing in the parks, running in and out of the ponds and generally loving life. It is a shame that so far none of them have been adopted, but Eline, who runs the refuge, assures me that this is not due to any behavioural problems. Even Venusio and Murphy, who were impossible to mix with other dogs when they were with us, have become well –adjusted, sociable dogs. It is just a matter of time before the right person comes along for them.

Then, the icing on the cake. Before flying home from Charleroi, I phoned to beg a bed from Facebook friends (and fauve de Bretagne fans) who live close to the airport. I had no idea when I called that they were away and that I would be seeing some mutual friends who were house-sitting during their absence! I am sure that Georgie and Jordan would have been just as hospitable, but it was a lovely surprise to see Phil and Anita who have two ex SPA Carcassonne dogs, so I got to see them, and Gwen and Yessa as well.

What a week, happy reunions all round. The news from the SPA was not so good and my dreams of an empty refuge have not come to pass, but we hope for better things to come!

I say hello to Pepere, Jojo and Murphy









Sarah teaches Carbon to sit and wait











Venusio cools off










JoJo with Ambre, one of the Animal Trust volunteers










And finally Gwen and Yessa on holiday in Belgium


Grizzli’s Great Adventure!

Grizzli, our enormous Newfoundland was adopted a few weeks ago but things just didn’t work out as the family had seven other dogs who Grizzli teased relentlessly.  This 3 year old has had no training or rules to follow and still thinks he is a puppy.Now although we all love playful dogs a 50kg out of control Newfie is really quite daunting!

Yesterday I had a call from a lady who lives in the country with her hubby, two other dogs, cats and donkeys and they were very interested in Grizzli. They were experienced with both Newfies and rescue dogs so in order to observe Grizzli’s behavior in situ it was agreed I would take him to their house this afternoon so we could test him with their animals.

I had a quick peek at the meteo and saw that today was going to be another scorcher and I know that Newfies do not do well in hot cars so I decided to be brave and actually reverse my car into the garage last night to make sure it was nice and cool. With the air-conditioning at full blast I drove to the refuge to collect Grizzli, he jumped into the car and off we went.

Doggy paradise is the only way to describe what awaited us. There was an enormous enclosed field leading down to a shady pool in a river. In the field were 7 donkeys, cats, chickens  and the family dogs.  Grizzli leaped out of the car and was very keen to meet his new playmates. He was very well behaved with all the animals so we carried on down to the river. What a relief this must have been for this enormous Newfie who had just come out of a concrete kennel in 35 degrees heat! After a dip in the river, we sat in the shade and it was very apparent that the new family were delighted with him. So Grizzli has a super new family and the potential of a really fantastic life. Let’s hope that he behaves himself this time!

Grizzli with his new family!


Dyson and Crackle Leave but Lots More Arrive!

Despite the soaring temperatures lots has happened at the refuge today. I will start with the good news. Dyson, the dynamic black and tan Pincher has been adopted. This is wonderful news as he had recently been returned to the refuge after a marriage breakup and this must have been very traumatic for this young chap. Never mind he’s off to a super home where he will be really appreciated!


Dyson’s departure was quickly followed by that of Crackle, a really sweet and gentle Yorkie. Not much more than a pup and immaculately groomed, it seems incredible that no one has come looking for her.  Hopefully Crackles stay at the refuge will soon be nothing but a distant memory!


On the downside, we have had lots and lots of entries. So far this year our numbers far exceed that of last year and we were in crises then. This doesn’t ode well for the rest of the summer!


I also popped up to Toulouse to pick up lots of stuff a lovely volunteer called Leanne had collected. You can see how full my car is of crates, beds, bedding, leads and collars, grooming equipment, toys and treats! So a massive thank you to Leanne and Julie, we are always grateful for such support. If you have stuff that you no longer need and think that we could put it to good use just drop it in or send us an email and we will pick it up. Our fundraisers have regular car boot sales so if our have stuff we could sell there, that too would be very, very welcome!

Dyson’s departure

Dyson leaves


Then It was Crackes turn



Thank you Leanne and Julie

My Car5


35 degrees and a good day for Sangria!

Sangria arrived with another pup about two weeks ago and they have both attracted lots of attention.  They were only 6-8 weeks when they arrived but they are chubby, happy, healthy looking pups who are full of puppy fun and nonsense! A family who have recently relocated to this area spotted her on the website and their two little girls fell in love with her right away.  Unfortunately for the girls they did have to wait the statutory 10 days but today the wait was finally over. With excitement, as well as the temperature reaching fever pitch , off she went!

This is the time of year when we see an influx of both puppies and kittens coming into the SPA. I have to admit that I love the fact that I can cuddle and play with the puppies – but at the end of the day I don’t have to be responsible for caring for them and turning them into good canine citizens.

Many people come to the SPA specifically to adopt a puppy, and sadly the older adult pets are often overlooked. I, for one, would much rather adopt an adult pet, and I would encourage everyone to consider doing the same.

Here’s why:

 What you see is what you get: I often hear people say that they would rather adopt a puppy because they want to mold his or her personality and behavior. I do understand this but only if you are prepared for the hard work needed to toilet train, educate and adequately socialize a young pup. With older dogs, what you see is what you get.  From the start you know how big they are, their personality and behavior, and grooming requirements.  Knowing these things makes it easier to pick the perfect pet for you and your family.

You can teach an old dog new tricks: Adult dogs have much more focus and are calmer than their puppy counterparts. They also have more experience reading people and understanding what is being asked of them.

 Puppies are a lot of work: Don’t get me wrong, I think puppies are adorable and lots of fun but they are also lots of work!  Older pets don’t require nearly as much monitoring and training, and many of them are already house-trained, which means fewer “accidents”.

 Older dogs settle in quickly: Adult dogs have been around the block and know how to be a part of your pack. They should settle in and become part of the family pretty quickly.

 Adult dogs are better couch potatoes: Puppies can definitely run you ragged and we’ve seen many pups returned to the SPA by families who didn’t realize what they were getting in to. Adult dogs are still active, but they also know how to lounge next to you on the couch while you watch TV, check your email or read a good book.

As I write this, we have lots of wonderful adult dogs who are looking for forever homes so please don’t  pass them by simply because they aren’t puppies anymore. Please come to visit, meet  them… and hopefully adopt one too!

Sangria on her way home.



Hot, Hot….Hot!

Today it was very, very, hot at the refuge!  We are lucky as we can escape indoors but there is no escape for the dogs. We do try our very best to keep them cool and some of them really love the mist spray on the hose whilst other hide at the back of the kennels until the kennels have been cleaned and then creep out to lie on the damp concrete.

On a happy note, we have had lots of updates from people who have recently adopted from us. I am sure that many of you will remember eight year old Hercules (now Bill) , a Montagne de Pyrenees who was abandoned in a very poor condition, painfully thin and in need of some serious tender loving care. Well you will be delighted to see how well he looks already. He has another Montagne de Pyrenees as a playmate and just loves his new garden and walks. This is fantastic news and ensures that his retirement is spent as it should be, far away from the noise, heat and chaos of the refuge!

Bill and Belle enjoying the garden

Bill and Belle 2


Dic and Doc two striking Spaniels arrived at the refuge after their owner became very ill and the family couldn’t take care of them. It was apparent that they were devoted to each other so you can imagine how pleased we were when John and Barbara decided to adopt the two of them together! John is a walking guide so these lucky boys are sure to enjoy lots of long walks. They settled into the house and home comforts really quickly and love nothing more than curling up on the sofa in the evening.







Although Chanel, our lovely golden Labrador was chipped when she arrived there was no reply from her previous owners and it soon became evident that they simply did not want her back. Fortunately for Chanel she was quickly spotted on the website by Julia and David. This couple couldn’t wait to meet her and rushed down from the Dordogne right away! They cannot believe what a happy well balanced dog she is. Calm and gentle, she is everything you imagine a Labrador to be. She was only adopted on Tuesday but has already been to a party, found two handsome boyfriends, met the chickens and horses and has been swimming in the lake. Now that is truly how a dog’s life should be!

Chanel looking very pleased with herself!



One thing that the SPA can be sure of is that summer time in France means that lots of puppies and kittens will be abandoned! This year has been no exception and lots have arrived already. When these babies arrive we much prefer that they go to foster families as the refuge is a dangerous place for unvaccinated pups or kittens.

Many of our volunteers at the SPA are also foster families for these pups and kittens as well as for dogs who arrive needing a little bit more tender loving care than life in a kennel can offer.  These foster families provide an extremely valuable role which helps us assess the dogs’ reaction to a home environment and lets us know which areas the dog may need a little help with. It’s not unusual for dogs who come into rescue to need a little help with toilet training, socialization or recall and being with a fosterer who will help with any issues, gives these dog a much better chance at a successful adoption. All of our foster families are very experienced and most have well balanced dogs and cats of their own which provides a perfect environment for a needy dog. Lots of our foster families have children who are very dog ‘savvy’ which provides fantastic socialization for our dogs. The foster family can give us a real insight into the personality of the dog which makes it far easier to find the perfect forever home.

Sometimes, well often actually, the inevitable happens and the fosterers fall in love with the dog and become the adopters.

This has of course happened in a lot of our foster families and I do understand why. When you have nurtured, socialized and loved a dog it is very difficult it give it up. Sometimes you just know that a dog is right for you and your family and so there is only one option, to adopt it!

Below are some of our happy dogs who have been adopted by our fantastic volunteers who also foster.

Benson who was fostered and then adopted by Rebecca




Brody who was fostered and then adopted by Rob


Au revoir Adeck

Adeck is one of the lucky few dogs that do not have to spend a long time with us before being adopted. In fact Adeck only arrived a week or so ago and was spotted on our website by an English couple who already have a giant schnauzer.   They were delighted by this over sized fox terrier cross with a soulful expression and happy demeanor and after a little walk to introduce him to their dog he was off to the vets to be identified and away he went!

Although this was great news for Adeck, four others weren’t so lucky and have arrived at the worst time of year.  That’s four more and we were already at bursting point!  The number of dogs admitted this year far exceeds the figures for last year so you can imagine how low morale is at the refuge tonight.  These poor souls are not in for an easy time as those of you who have checked the weather forecast will have seen that it going to get hot hot hot!

As the temperatures begin to soar, life behind bars for the dogs at the SPA becomes really difficult. Although these dogs are desperate for their walk, sometimes it is simply just too hot! This is when we get the paddling pools out and the fun in the sun really begins! Most of the dogs absolutely love splashing about in the pools and it is a delight to watch them chasing each other and frolicking about in the water.

Please don’t forget that in long, hot days, our dogs can suffer from the same problems that we do, such as dehydration and overheating. By following these simple tips, you can keep your pets healthy and happy:

-Never leave your dog alone in a vehicle. Even with the windows rolled down, a car can become a furnace in no time. If you have errands to run, leave your dogs at home.

-Walk your dog during cooler times in the day such as the morning or evening, and be sure not to walk them after a meal. Same goes for playtime.

-Always carry fresh water when traveling with your pet.

-When temperatures are high, don’t let your dog stand on hot pavements. His or her body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn.

-If you are spending the day at the beach with your pooch, be sure to bring plenty of fresh water. Sandy dogs should be rinsed off after a dip in the sea.

-Keep your dog or cat inside during the heat of the day. If they are outdoors during the day, be sure to provide fresh water and plenty of shade.

-Watch out for signs of overheating including panting and drooling, weakness, an increased heart rate or difficulty breathing. If you notice these symptoms call your vet immediately.

Adeck smiling as he leaves






Life After The Refuge

Those of you who visit our website will have noticed that we have a new page dedicated to stories of dogs after they have left the refuge. I am sure that this page will be a real inspiration for all of us and when you read the first story about Munro you will understand why.

I was there the day that Munro arrived at the refuge and couldn’t believe that such a handsome boy could be abandoned. There was something about how he held himself that really drew me to him, so first there gets to name him and being Scottish I called him Munro.

The refuge is a stressful place for dogs, we have 120+ dogs so the noise alone is enough to send even the most balanced dog over the edge. Munro didn’t cope well with this stress and soon it became very difficult to even get him out of his kennel. No amount of gentle persuasion, chicken or bribery worked and with staff and volunteer time at a premium the future wasn’t looking good for my lovely boy!

Social media sites are a God send for us at the SPA;  through one of these we became acquainted with Fauve Rescue in the UK. These super people had already taken a lovely Fauve called Gwen and an older Griffon cross called Yessa.  Sometimes the logistics of rescues to the UK are difficult but with the Fauves they seemed to fall into place. Gwen was taken to Calais to meet her new family by my son Stuart and Yessa was taken on the first step of her journey to Cahors by myself so, as I was planning a trip back to Scotland in about 5-6 weeks’ time, dare we ask Fauve Recue to step in yet again? Could we even get Munro used to a lead and collar and into a car, never mind  ask someone to adopt him? After a long chat with Fauve recue it was agreed that should we be able to get Munro there they would take him into their care. This really was the chance of a lifetime for Munro and we were determined to make sure it would succeed.

About this time a lady called Nicky had contacted Fauve Rescue after seeing Munros picture on their web site. Already having a Basset Fauve called Minnie she had experience with this breed and was looking for a playmate for her little girl. Nicky was also experienced with rescue dogs so everything was falling into place. Pending successful introductions Nicky would adopt Munro.

You can read Nickys fantastic story on our new Life After The Refuge page , it’s a superb story and well worth the read!


We would love more of these stories so if you have adopted from us and would like to tell everyone about us and your dog please get in touch.

Munro Leaving For The UK



Chanel has the banana!

I had to leave the refuge early as one of my dogs had to go to the vet for an emergency grass-seed-from-nose extraction. However when I left things were not going well. Four dogs had been brought in, one of whom is a Pyrenean Mountain dog, who arrived weighing 26kg rather than the 50kg that he should be. His toenails are so long they are curled back on themselves. A sad sight indeed. We will soon have Hoffen up on his paws and the change in him will be dramatic, but how sad that such a magnificent creature should be allowed to get into this state. We suspect that his toenails have grown this way due to Hoffen having been enclosed in a small space; let’s hope he is soon adopted and really understands the meaning of freedom!

On the plus side, a lovely couple came to adopt Chanel, who was abandoned by her owner a couple of weeks ago. This couple travelled a long way and were delighted with their new dog. Happy smiling faces all round! Just look at Chanel. I love the French expression to “have the banana”, but it is only when you see dogs smiling like this that you understand it properly!

And yes, we know that Chanel has the opposite problem to Hoffen, but a sensible diet and more exercise will do wonders and I have been promised photos once Chanel is back to her slimline self!

The other BIG adoption of the day was that of Grizzli. He is going to have a lovely time in his new home and it is great that his time at the refuge was so brief. Let’s hope Hoffen is as lucky!

I am off for a week or so, leaving you in the capable blogging hands of Moira. Looking forward to lots of good news when I get back!

Chanel has the banana!









Grizzli leaves too







But poor Hoffen arrives. 

Cool days await old dog!

I don’t know about where you are, but today in Carcassonne it has been absolutely baking hot. Wonderful as this is for tourists and those lucky enough to be living a life of leisure, my thoughts always turn towards the dogs at the refuge. For reasons of hygiene, the kennels are made of concrete, and you can just imagine how hot these are in this kind of heat.

The staff hose down the kennels as often as possible. Some dogs lie under the spray, others wait in the dry, but emerge once their outside area is a bit fresher.

The dogs who suffer the most are undoubtedly the oldies, so I was delighted to hear the news that Tammy was adopted today. Tammy is 13 years old, brought in at the end of May, with a severe heart murmur. The vet told us that her condition meant that sterilisation was not possible, so we had to find a family with no male dogs and no risk of unwanted male visitors. Our good friends at Doglinks (who have a very soft spot for the oldies) will be delighted at the news that today Tammy was homed so she will be out of the baking heat of the SPA!

More good news came in the form of the first photos of Boza (now Enzo) in his new home. And only one dog arrived today, so fingers crossed it will be a good week! Oh, and we had a visit from Minnie, who was homed a couple of weeks ago.

Lucky Tammy







Boza, now Enzo, at home








Minnie comes to say hello