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Latest News

Venusio’s long wait is finally over!

The refuge was closed today as it was a Bank Holiday in France. Of course the employees were present in the morning to clean the boxes and feed the dogs and cats, as well as give various medicines to those dogs that are currently undergoing treatment.

So no refuge news, however HUGE news from elsewhere!

The last of the dogs that were sent to Animal Trust in Belgium has just been adopted. Venusio spent 18 months with us, where he was lonely and miserable. Although initially happy to share his kennel, Venusio gradually became more and more intolerant of other dogs, and ended up in a box alone, where despite regular walks, he started to pine and get depressed.

When Eline of Animal Trust offered a lifeline to some of our dogs, her first choice was Venusio. A dog who is nothing special in France is viewed completely differently in Belgium, which has different breeds. As a  griffon Nivernais of seven years, Venusio’s chances of being adopted from Carcassonne were decreasing all the time. So, thanks to Sarah, in April he made the long trip to Melle.

I popped into Animal Trust with Sarah in early July this year, and all five dogs were still there. I spent time with each of them, and the transformation in Venusio was amazing. He was playing in the park with another ex-Carcassonne dog, Carbon, and gone was all the aggression of his time with us. Eline had realised that it was just his prolonged confinement that had made him grumpy, and that with regular exercise off the lead, he would be fine. When I saw him he was busy persuading Carbon to give up his ball mostly by howling as loudly as possible in Carbon’s ear. It was hilarious and extremely good natured. Not many dogs could hold out for long when faced with the baying of a hunt dog right into their ear, and Carbon gave the ball up every time, just to get away from the noise! At this point Venusio would parade round the park proudly carrying the ball only to have it stolen by Carbon and the whole thing would start again!

Since my visit, the dogs have left, one by one. In fact Carbon was adopted just two days after I saw him. Pepere was next and then Jojo and Murphy on the same day. So it was just Venusio left. When would his turn finally come? Well, the answer was TODAY!

I am over the moon. Once again I must thank Eline, Sarah, Amber, Nancy, Kevin and all the other amazing people at Animal Trust. We are so happy that you are there and that your commitment to help animals has benefited our dogs as well as all the needy souls you look after in Belgium.

Oh, happy day!

Lovely Venusio, happy after so long!











And here is a picture of all five Carcassonne dogs soon after their arrival at Animal Trust. They are chasing round the park, led by two other residents of this fabulous refuge. First taste of freedom!


Any colour as long as it’s black!

Another hot day at the refuge and not much to report. A couple of dogs had people to visit them, but nothing sure, and no departures, sadly. However I admire people who come and visit a dog and then go home to reflect. Taking a dog is a huge commitment and should be for the lifetime of the dog, so it is as well to be certain before taking the plunge!

One dog arrived, a beautiful retriever. He is 4 years old and micro-chipped. His owners’ answerphone say that they will not be returning from holiday until August 18th. One wonders who is meant to be looking after their lovely dog Elios. Perhaps they left him with friends, if so they can collect him from us, providing they have proof that they are acting in loco parentis, as it were. And if they pay us enough, we won’t even tell the owner that they lost the dog (only kidding!). Interestingly according to his identification papers in Paris, he is a black golden retriever, which seems like a contradiction in terms, so I am calling him a flatcoat! As Henry Ford may or may not have said, “Any colour as long as it is black!”. If the dog is not claimed by August 24th, he will be up for adoption. And I know lots of you love both golden retrievers and flatcoats, so you can take your pick as to what breed you call this beautiful boy!

As the hot weather continues, it is nice to see our recent appeal bearing fruit. Here is the cathouse complete with some recently arrived bamboo fencing making a lovely shaded area. The SPA is very lucky to have a salaried part time Mr Fixit, however he is always open to offers of help, so if you have any DIY skills that you would like to offer, you would be welcome to come along and lend a hand. A couple of British volunteers already do so, and both seem to enjoy it (or at least they both keep coming back!)

Oh, some of you may be wondering how Isa got on in her Trophy of the Mountains. Well, I am pleased to report that she did in fact finish in the top ten female veterans. The photo below was taken at the finish line. At this point Isa was too scared to take  her socks off, as she wasn’t sure what was going on underneath. Turns out it was nothing major, and Isa was relieved to have finished this gruelling trial intact. Running day and night, on some occasions,  for nine days, injuries could have been far worse than mangled toes. Still sooner her than me!  Congratulations once again to Isa and her little warrior, Canelle.

Shady cats







Isa’s feet. OUCH!
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And a black golden retriever. No comment!

Yesterday’s adoption and today’s arrivals, including a puppy in a box!

Some of you may remember the puppy Loubar, who was adopted a week or so ago by Sophie, a friend of one of our volunteers. Well so in love has she fallen with Loubar, that she decided to come and adopt his brother, Sumo.  Only problem was that Sumo was adopted on Saturday.  His departure left one poor little pup, Schweppes, alone in his cage, as his other pal, Clyde, had also left.

So what was Sophie’s solution? To adopt Schweppes, of course! Yesterday this puppy, who had been overlooked for so long (his sister, Sangria had been adopted over a month ago) took the train up to Versaille with his new mum, and now he is playing happily with Loubar!

I am over the moon for him. He was suffering a bit from long-eared syndrome, but why be put off a dog who has never hunted in his life? A puppy (in fact a dog of any age) can be educated, and whereas some instincts are innate, dogs should not be written off and categorised just due to the length of their ears!

Loubar and his new pal Schweppes taking a time out!







The SPA still has puppies, don’t worry. It is just that until they have had their two vaccinations, we keep the litters separate to minimise risk of disease. We have pups in both the infirmary and the cat house, as well as two in foster, one of whom arrived today (see below)

We have received some lovely photos of Polly, who made it to her final destination on Saturday morning and is proving to be a delight. She has decided that she wants company all the time, so moves her blanket from her basket to wherever her mistress is sitting at the time. After a year in the SPA, Polly has decided to never be alone again! Wouldn’t you love this kind of devotion from a dog? Well, that is what rescue dogs are like! So grateful and full of love.

Devoted Polly on a walk. Free at last.







At the refuge today, three dogs were brought in, and none at were adopted. With Thursday being a bank holiday, I suppose this should be no surprise. One of them, a puppy found on the motorway, was lucky enough to go home with a foster family. The other two have joined an ever-more crowded SPA.

And our new arrival!



Melba and Petit’s Incredible Journey!

Many of you will know that Melba, the beautiful Braque Allemand, was reserved by my son and eventually arrived chez moi last Thursday! Because I had 5 other foster pets I didn’t think it was fair to bring Melba here until I could give her all of my attention but at last she was there, her first step towards a happy future!

Melba arrived at the SPA as a pup and really did have the ‘cute’ factor so was adopted from us fairly quickly. She was then abandoned, a boisterous adolescent who had received no training, little attention and had been left to her own devices! We all know the havoc that a bored, unexercised and ignored pup can cause but I knew that Melba was a clever, keen girl.

Anyone who knows me well also knows my dogs Zac and Phoebe. Zac is a Labrador cross Collie who I have had from a pup and gets on with anyone and everything. Phoebe is a Boxer cross who I have had since she was 2 and is a fantastic people dog but needs careful introductions to other dogs. If things are done at Phoebes pace then there are no problems but she likes to dictate that pace!  After picking up Melba from the refuge I had my hubby meet us with my dogs and off we went for our first walk together. I breathed a sigh of relief when Madame Pheobe gave Melba a sniff and then ignored her; this really was the doggy equivalent of the thumbs up!  When we got back to the house Melba had a good sniff around and hoping she would settle I popped her in her cage.  She howled and after 10 minutes I gave up and let her out. She quickly jumped up on the sofa and went to sleep…hmm…should I let her settle or what?  By this time it was dinner time so the lure of food and a glass of wine was much too much for me so I let her sleep.

At bedtime I was a bit wary about putting her back in her cage but she quickly settled and slept until morning. Next day we packed up a picnic and the 3 dogs, then headed up to the Pyrenees for a long walk to tire them out before their big journey to Scotland. This certainly worked and after 3-4  hours walking on the hills we had very tired dogs!

Next day was hectic with an early morning walk and then a very special pick up in Limoux, a lovely little Pincher cross called Petit who was also travelling with us. Petit had been fostered by our volunteer Di, who had gone out of her way to accommodate this young chap, even although this is her busiest time of year. When Petit arrived at Dis a few weeks ago he was scared, not house trained and very wary of men but the Petit I picked up was confident, clean in the house and for all the journey and fine with my hubby. This was all down to Di’s hard work socializing and training him so a massive thank you to her. It’s so hard to hand over a foster pet especially when you know that they have a 16 hour journey ahead of them with people and animals they have never met and Di would be the first to admit there were a few tears!

Petit made the animal count in my car up to 6 so we decided to travel at night. We left France about 4pm and had a very relaxed drive through France. 3am we were walking along the promenade in Calais with all the dogs and the smell and sight of rabbits around the beach huts certainly perked them all up! The animal checks at Eurotunnel went painlessly and we arrived in Folkestone at 7am where Ellen the new mum for Petit and Kevin my son who adopting two kittens were waiting to meet us. Ellen had brought along Zelda, her staffie cross whippet to meet Petit and both were delighted with the new arrival!

Off we set again through the UK with only 10 hours drive in front of us until we reached home!  That was a journey of 27 hours for Melba who arrived a bit bewildered but ready to begin her new life roaming the Scottish hills. A walk in the woods, a splash in river and lots of new smells really perked Melba up and Stuart and Juliette were absolutely delighted with her. We shall definitely have regular updates of Melbas progress. This will be their first dog and I am very proud how they have thought long and hard about the dog they wanted, have planned training classes and also considered how Melba will fit into their lifestyle.

For rescue dogs like Melba and Petit, to travel so far to a new life certainly is an incredible journey!

Melba in the Pyrenees



Ellen giving Petit his first cuddle.



Go Team Freedom!

Some people arrive at the refuge knowing exactly what kind of dog they want, in terms of age, breed and sex. Others just wander round and see where their heart goes. A third type of person knows what they want a dog for. One such person is Isa, and today’s blog is about her and the dog she adopted from the SPA Carcassonne, Canelle (formerly Brindle).

Isa is an athlete. She competes at a high level on the track, and wanted to move into a sport called Canicross, which some of you may know. Basically a huge elastic waist belt attaches you to your dog, and you race round tracks or cross country together. So Isa had a very clear idea of what she wanted in a dog. But it had to be love, too, not just a tool. I have been to several canicross events (as a spectator, I hasten to add), and you see lots of huskies and other pulling type dogs. But Isa is drawn to a different type of dog completely.

After much deliberation, Isa adopted a dog from us in February this year and immediately enrolled in classes at the Club Canin, Carcassonne (with whom we have an ongoing and successful partnership). Pretty soon Canelle was ready to join Isa on the track. She was a natural. Isa was over the moon, and in her second ever competition they were on the podium! And guess what? Isa donated her prize (of dog food) to the SPA!

At this very moment Isa and Canelle are taking part in the Trophy of the Mountains. This is a huge canicross competition, with participants from 18 different nations. There are ten different stages to run over the course of nine days; I heard from Isa this morning from somewhere in the region Rhone Alpes, where she and Canelle are just about to enter into the top ten senior female category.

Before entering the competition Isa wrote to ask if we would mind if Canelle’s official race name could include the words “SPA Carcassonne”. Of course we were only too delighted to agree. Isa describes Canelle as a real warrior, she is massively proud of her dog, who just 5 months ago was in a kennel at the refuge. She says that together they are Team Freedom!

It is wonderful for us too, to see an owner and dog so in tune with each other. We are proud of them both!

Go Team Freedom!

 Isa and Canelle at the start line (with Canelle obediently posing for the camera!)












And in full flight during the Trophy of the Mountains




One out one in.

As far as adoptions is concerned, today wasn’t exactly stunning. However lots of dog walking took place and the one adoption, that of the puppy, Sumo, did raise morale. His space  was quickly taken by a gorgeous female setter, who was found in a nearby village (how many times have we heard that?!) We have named her Katya, as for some reason there seems to be a bit of a Russian theme going on (Nastasya arrived yesterday, and we have Nureyev, who has been with us for 6 months now)

Sumo has gone to a lovely family, and he will have a great time with them, I am sure. They all came along to choose their new companion, and what a fabulous photo!

In other news, we put out an appeal on Facebook yesterday for bamboo screening. We intend to use this to provide some well-needed shade for the cat house and also some of the dog kennels. If we have enough we would like to make an exercise area for those puppies who are living in the infirmary (ie before they are fully vaccinated). And perhaps even screen off the parks so the dogs can play without exciting all the other dogs in the kennels opposite.

In any case, the first donation of screening arrived today and work will start as soon as possible.

If you have anything similar lying around, it would be wonderful if you could bring it along! It will make such a difference to the cats and dogs.

Lovely Katya









Sumo leaves with his new family









And some soon-to-be-shade arrives! 


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.