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Operation Kennel – a huge SUCCESS

What can we say? We were totally blown away today by the solidarity shown by everyone who came along to put up kennels. We arrrived at the SPA at 13H55 and there was a long queue of people all standing with electric screwdrivers in hand, chomping at the bit to get started on contructing the kennels.

With only a minimun of instruction which consisted of “Thanks to you all for coming. We really appreciate it. The kennels are there, get into groups of two or more and go for it!”,  the SPA turned into a hive of activity. Believe it or not 45 minutes after we blew the starting whistle, all the kennels had been built.

Most people had kept the whole afternoon free, so we had an impromptu open day, with lots of dogs being walked, and we also had a team just generally tidying the place up. Plus of course we put the new kennels into the boxes and tried to make the dogs as comfortable as possible.

Thank you to everyone who came along. It was an incredible gesture of solidarity, and we have even gained a couple more volunteers for the future. Some people were regular volunteers but other people said they were unable to adopt, but wanted to show their support for the SPA. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts, as do the dogs.

In other Sunday news, Kayla left for her new home today. She was one of the dogs who had a long distance visitor yesterday. As we speak, she is on her way north. Being a category one dog, she is officially in long term foster, but to all intents and purposes she is adopted. The law on so called “dangerous dogs” means that on paper she belongs to the SPA. But she doesn’t know that, of course! For her it is home, and the first real home this girl has ever known.

Many thanks to the association Les Delits des Anges Heureux for helping to publicise Kayla and for doing the pre-visit etc.

All in all, we have a lot to be thankful for today!

Operation Kennel in full swing.
lots of people building kennels











Three Puppy Adoptions

Yesterday evening pictures of five puppies were put onto the internet as being available for adoption, and this afternoon three of them were adopted and a fourth reserved! Today Mauzac, Madiran and Gaillac all found homes, Salsa is reserved leaving only little Aydie behind. Strange, as usually females are far more popular than males, when it comes to adult dogs, at least.

Don’t panic if you missed out, though. As well as Aydie, there are other pups at the SPA looking for homes. All of them will be large dogs when they are adult, so if that is not your dream, don’t get carried away with their cuteness. It is far better to wait for a puppy who will be the right size for you when it is adult. And of course if you want to be sure of a dog’s size when it is fully grown, then the best thing is to adopt an adult. Just because we have lots of lovely puppies, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the dogs at the SPA are any less deserving of a new home. The puppies are only here because the owners were too irresponsible to sterilise their dogs, leaving the SPA to take up the slack, after all!

There were plenty of visitors and volunteers at the SPA this afternoon, some walking, others planning to adopt. There is good news on the horizon for several more dogs.

Don’t forget about our kennel-building session tomorrow afternoon. If you are too far away to help, please support us emotionally by cheering us along from a distance. A kennel is not as good as a home, but all being well some dogs will have better protection from the icy winds tomorrow night!

Mauzac – ADOPTED
black lab puppy











Gaillac – ADOPTED

black lab










Madiran – ADOPTED

yellow lab puppy











Aydie – still waiting, along with several other pups.

tricolouored puppy










Three Adoptions, a Foster, and Winter Preparations

Today three dogs left the SPA, which is great for them, as some more bitterly cold winter weather is on its way to us. More about that later on.

First to leave today was Jemma. She hasn’t been with us for long, and in fact she found her home without any photos appearing on the intenet. Some dogs are just lucky enough to be picked out of the many dogs who all vie for the attention of visitors to the SPA.

She was quickly followed by Dylan, who has gone home to live with a couple who were after an older, calmer dog. Those of you who know Dylan are aware that he is not either of these things, but sometimes the heart takes you somewhere unexpected. Despite being young and handsome and fine with cats, Dylan has waited since the end of June to find a new home. Is this the curse of the black dog? Perhaps, but in any case, Dylan’s long wait is finally over.

Third (but not last) to leave was Pogo. He is spending a night at home with Moira, waiting for his onward transport to Maria and her family near to Paris. Usually organising a covoiturage is very quick, but with the Christmas holidays it was very hard to sort out. So the best thing was to wait till everyone had settled down again and to send Pogo with a commercial transporter. His new family have been desperate for his arrival and they are very excited. No doubt there will be lots of news, although Moira tells me that already Pogo has proved to be far from the timid lad we saw at the SPA, so he will be just fine!

The fourth departure was that of rottweiler Domino, who has gone into a foster home. This is mainly to shelter this old man from the cold and we hope he behaves himself with the cat so that his new digs become permanent. If not, Hanspeter and his family will try to at least keep him warm for the next week or so. Huge thanks to them.

Finally and again on the subject of the cold, the first of the recently arrived DRC funded kennels have been put together. And thanks to other donations we have some lovely new blankets and mats to go inside. For those who don’t know, we are having a working afternoon on Sunday to put the rest of the kennels together, this in an attempt to keep warm the poor dogs who have so far not found a home.













black dog with pointy ears












Pogo (now Winston) – ADOPTED And spending the evening at Moira’s house!

spaniel cross












Domino – in foster with his paws crossed for luck!











And the first of the kennels is up thanks to keen volunteer Valentin.

man building kennel


Timid dogs and keeping them safe!

Today we are absolutely delighted that All Black is back home. He escaped from his new home last Friday and we were all very worried. He was trapped in a garden not far from his house and was recognised by a very kind gentleman who had seen his poster. I am sure that his new mum and family will be really relieved, what a fright this boy has given us but as they say ‘alls well that ends well’!

Adopting and keeping a very nervous dog safe can be quite a challenge. You know that you have done a great thing and are full of love and encouragement but it takes time for a timid dog to realise this.  A timid and nervous dog can move very quickly and can be very determined so its very important to keep it safe.

The most important thing to be aware of is that many of our dogs were strays or hunters and have been used to living on the streets or in the spa for some time.  Given the chance, some of them may make a bid for freedom if they have the opportunity, so you need to be extremely vigilant at all times.

The golden rule is to keep your dog on a harness AND collar with either two leads or a double ended lead. This means that if the dog panics and backs away, if one fails the other should keep him nice and safe.

Collecting your dog 

It is vital that you can secure your dog on the journey home. The best way for a dog to travel home is in a crate  and will ensure that when you get home your dog won’t jump out of the car and run!

Don’t stop to walk your dog on the way home – better a wee and poo in the crate, than a lost dog!

Arriving home

Take your dog into the house using its double lead. Some dogs have never lived in a house before so may need encouraging (or carrying) into the house. Again, every dog is different but always err on the side of caution. Everything will be strange to your dog, from strangers voices on the TV to the washing machine or hoover. Keep everything really calm and low key, I remember accidently really scaring a pup by shaking out a bin bag!

In the garden

However high your fences are, keep your new dog on a lead or long line in the garden for the first few days until you have judged how likely they are to try to escape. Every dog is different, but we have had instances of dogs attempting to jump six foot fences in their panic to get away. Scared dogs become very athletic when panicking. Keeping them on the lead until they know where the door is to the house and until they are familiar with you, is a wise move. Better to have the dog on a lead in the garden for several days, than risk losing it!

In the house 

Having a quiet place for your dog will make him feel more secure. A crate with the door open and a cover on makes a great den. Feed your dog in there so that it becomes a happy place to be. Some of our dogs have food issues – they have literally been starved and even the most gentle soul may turn into a maniac when food arrives!! Feed your new dog separately from other dogs until you can judge how he will be with food. Putting up a ‘baby gate’ can separate dogs when needed, or feed your dog in the crate.


Please make sure that you are extra careful when people come to your house who aren’t used to your dog. Danger points are open doors and gates. There have been very sad incidents recently of rescue dogs slipping out through an open door or gate. It takes a split second for a dog to slip through! Don’t be tempted to show your dog off to all and sundry for a few days. He will be physically and emotionally exhausted so allow him plenty of rest and to get used to you and your family.


Don’t over-compensate in the first few days. A bland food is ideal – mine have rice and chicken for the first few days then I add kibble  gradually over a few days.

Some of the dogs have an upset tummy when they arrive – sometimes caused by the stress of travelling and changing homes. If it doesn’t settle within a very short time, ask the vets’ opinion but most upset tummies settle quickly.


I have found that the dogs are a little dehydrated when they arrive home, even though they have fresh water available at all times! Make sure that they have water available and don’t panic if they don’t wee for a day, it will happen!!


Don’t be tempted to let a timid dog off the lead until you have practiced recall and are sure that he wont bolt or run off.

As your dog settles into its new life and you begin to understand and respect each other you can relax and give your dog more freedom.The best thing is to allow them to progress at their own pace,keeping then safe as they do. It really doesn’t matter how long they take – they all get there in the end.

Double lead system…one lead attached to collar and one to harness..






Adoption of Houshous, but two more dogs go missing.

On Saturday a beautiful and young golden retriever was abandoned at the SPA and today he was adopted! Yes, sometimes it can be that quick. Providing we have a contract stating that the owners are surrendering their dog, there is no need to look for the owners, and hence no need for a dog to wait 10 days. Moreover this dog, Houshous, had everything going for him. Young, fine with other dogs, fine with children and fine with cats. Needless to say we had many people keen to adopt him.

We are delighted that he has gone to live with people we know well; a family of keen volunteer dog walkers who are great supporters of the SPA. Sometimes dedication pays off; Fabrice and his family had no plans to adopt a fifth (yes, 5th) dog when they came to help out on Saturday, but when they saw Houshous they decided that they had room for one more. Yesterday compatibility was tested during the open day and today the adoption was made official.

We are delighted for Houshous of course, whilst at the same time being a bit sad for the other dogs who wait for months or even years at the SPA because they are not as instantly attractive. They deserve homes too!

It also shows why, if you do need to separate from your dog, it is far better to provide as much information about his behaviour and preferences as possible. That helps the SPA find the best home as quickly as possible.

In not-so-good news, following the disappearance of All Black on Friday, two more recently adopted dogs have gone missing today. Like All Black, both dogs are very nervous (both are from the Ste Eulalie dog-hoarding affair), and they went missing within hours of each other from their respective homes. Ondine is missing in Fenouillet de Razes and Boss in Carcassonne.

A blog on how to look after nervous dogs is being prepared as we speak. However  the bottom line is if you have a dog like this please take great care. A moment’s inattention is all it takes for a dog to go missing. It is cold outside and it is heartbreaking to think of these dogs out there despite having loving homes who are desperate for their return.

Houshous – ADOPTED after 2 days!

golden retriver with mum and kids









Ondine and Boss are both missing. 

white dog with brown ears white dog with brown ears

Sheila and Pence leave together

Sheila, a typically terrified but gentle griffon and Pence, a typically outgoing braque arrived about a week apart, but thier destinies were interlinked almost from the start. While visiting their holiday home in Mirepoix, Anne and her husband decided to come to the SPA with a view to adopting one dog. However when husband was drawn to Pence, and wife to Sheila, their plans changed. Yes, they decided to adopt two dogs instead of one!

We love it when this happens, especially in cases where the dogs have become almost inseparable whilst at the SPA. This morning the two dogs were given a bath (thanks Patricia!) and set off on their long journey back to the UK. We look forward to news and pictures of the newly renamed Asha and Athos in their new home, and say huge thanks to their new mum and dad, who came all the way to collect them.

Thanks to everyone who walked these two dogs while they were at the SPA. Their new mum and dad were impressed at how much progress Sheila (sorry, Asha) has made since her arrival, and it is thanks both to the care shown by the employees as well as the socialisation that comes as a result of getting out of the kennels and meeting other people and seeing a bit of the world.

Thanks also to everyone who came along this afternoon to walk the dogs. The fact that there were no more adoptions doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a great way to spend a sunny (but cold) afternoon.

We are open tomorrow afternoon, as we did not make it on January 1st. We are not expecting any adoptions, so there probably won’t be a blog, but who knows!

Sheila (now Asha) – ADOPTED
griffon cross









Pence (now Athos) – ADOPTED


More good news!

Before we move onto today’s good news, we have to report that there was another adoption yesterday, that of Hvala. She had not been with us long, but I am sure quite long enough for her. We introduced you to her last week, shortly after her arrival, if you remember. As predicted she did not have long to wait, she caught the eye of a family who adore shepherd types, and Hvala was just what they were looking for.

And the good new continues today, with the adoption of Eridan. Yes, THAT Eridan. He arrived as a five month old not-quite-pup at the end of November 2015, and since that time has been adopted twice and brought back twice. On both occasions it was for puppy playing, which was not good with the family’s small children. Since his last abandon in February 2016 he has become almost a fixture at the SPA, which is dreadful for such a young dog, and particularly for one who is as close to perfect as a dog can be!

Even if there are some tiny rough edges to smooth off, Eridan (now renamed Didi) is in the right place. His new owner is none other than dog trainer Arthur Groves. He and wife Anne were looking for a small sociable dog who could meet all their puppy visitors and show new owners how a perfect dog should be. How wonderful that they should choose a rescue dog, and even more wonderful that they chose Eridan!

But maybe the BEST news of the day was the fact that the old man of the SPA, Arsouille, has gone to a foster home where he will be loved and in the warm. This old boy has been with us since November 2015, and at 13 years old, a cold box is no place for him. Thanks to volunteer Patricia who has been spreading the word about the dogs at the SPA, Arsouille now has a family. A loving one, without other animals. Perfect for this lovely old boy.

We are delighted, of course, however our joy at Arsouille’s good fortune has been tempered somewhat by the news that All Black has gone missing. He took fright when the bin-men arrived, and ran out of an gate that had accidentally been left open. We hope for a good outcome, but it shows that however careful people are, these timid dogs take very special handling, especially in the early days. We will of course keep you posted. Thanks to everyone who has been out searching so far.

Hvala – ADOPTED yesterday and already happy in her new home.

black and tan dog on basket







Eridan (aka La Patate and now Didi) – ADOPTED after doing all his growing up at the SPA

pale beige dog








And Arsouille – in the warmth of a long term foster home!

big old dog

Let the good times roll!

Today we had three adoptions and we are delighted!

First to leave was Smurf. He arrived at the SPA in late June and initially was regarded by some as being aggressive, as he hid at the back of his kennel growling. However the employes who looked after him knew otherwise knew better, as did any of the volunteers who spent any tine in the kennel. Just sitting calmly would result in a little dog belly-crawling forward till he was within cuddling distance. Like so many of our arrivals, Smurf was terrified. Terrified by the noise at the SPA, terrified by people who had no doubt beaten this little lad.  It took a few weeks, but he gradually realised that that period of his life was over, and from now on there would be nothing but love.

He was soon sharing his kennel with Cesar, and the two dogs were inseperable, until Cesar’s adoption exactly one week ago. Smurf soon found a new kennel mate, however, and his move to a different part of the SPA brought him luck, as the increased visibility brought him a home of his own just four days later. We are so happy for this lad who could so easily have been left behind. His new family have another ex-SPA dog who was a bit nervous when she arrived at their home, and they are perfect for Smurf.

Funnily enough Smurf’s most recent kennel mate, Kalouf, was adopted today too. He arrived at the other end of the confidence spectrum, although both dogs were about the same age (about 6 months old)  when they arrived. This is yet more proof of how crucial a dog’s first few months are to his future deveolopment. Kalouf was already a happy, outgoing and well socialised dog, and we have no idea why he arrived at the SPA, other than that he is quite a big lad, and perhaps he outgrew his family’s expectations.

Luckily lots of people like big dogs, and despite few weeks with no interest, Kalouf suddenly became one of the most popular dogs at the SPA. By this time, though, he was already reserved. His new family was looking for a big young dog, they saw Kalouf on the internet and came along specially to meet him. Due to family commitments over the holiday period they were unable to adopt him immediately, but today their return heralded Kalouf’s departure and the start of his new life.

The third dog to leave has perhaps given us our adoption of the day. Poupette has found a home after being abandoned towards the end of September at the age of nearly 12. It has been horrible seeing this dog, who was used to a warm home and affection lying looking miserable in her kennel. However that is all over now! Poupette’s new owner recently lost his ex- SPA dog Tesson (who some of us remember) and wanted to offer a home to another needy soul. How lucky was Poupette that she is fine with cats, even if she doesn’t like other dogs. We are all so happy that this elderly lady is no longer living outside in the cold.

Smurf- ADOPTED (“who, ME?” ) 
balck and tan griffon









Kalouf- ADOPTED (and renamed Brody)

shepherd cross








And Poupette who celebrates her 12 birthday with a new home!

brown and grey dog smiling


Here they are, the first adoptions of 2017

How could we fail to blog today, with news of the first two adoptions of the year! And two wonderful ones, at that.

First to leave was All Black. We know that lots of you will be delighted at this news, as he has been very popular with many of our readers. We are all big fans of griffons aren’t we, and this big but shy boy has been a real hit. Several people have asked to see him out of his kennel, but found him to be too timid. However with the arrival of his sponsor mum in Carcassonne a couple of months ago, his fortunes were about to change.

Some sponsor mums work on the internet to find homes for their proteges, some come in and walk dogs. All Black’s sponsor has been doing both. As well as some great publicity montages, she has been in to walk him whenever possible. Behind the scenes she has been gradually bringing her husband round to the idea of adopting a second dog. Just before Christmas hubby came in to meet All Black, and today was the day when the family’s other dog, who looks like a mini- All Black, came to the refuge to see how things went.

So finally after 14 months at the SPA, All Black has a home. He has changed a lot since his arrival, when he was a terrified and skinny lad.

Another dog who arrived in a terrified state was Havane. She is another dog from the Ste Eulalie dog hoarding case, and has been at the SPA since the end of March last year. She has made huge progress since her arrival, and that is thanks to the endless patience shown by staff and volunteers. Employee Angelique is not at work this week, but she has put in an incredible amount of effort into the rehabilitation of Havane, including keeping her in the office with her when she was working on reception. Gradual exposure to people and strange noises has helped Havane gain confidence. There is still work to be done, but her new family are prepared for this.

As we mentioned when Boss was adopted on New Year’s Eve, if you have patience and love to offer and want a small dog, several more of these dogs are still looking for their homes. It might seem like hard work, but everyone who adopts a dog like this finds it very rewarding and their love is returned a thousand-fold.

For now we rejoice for All Black and Havane, and at least two more dogs will be leaving tomorrow! 2017 has taken a while to get underway, but we are on a roll!

All Black – ADOPTED
big black hairy dog










Havane – ADOPTED

small black dog

New Year’s Adoption for Flash!

The New Year starts with excellent news, namely the adoption of Flash in Belgium. Some of you may remember this lad who was brought in with his three puppy siblings in March last year, but who was left behind when they were all adopted one by one. He spent several months at the SPA but it was not the best environment for him. He was so timid that walks were quite an ordeal, and despite the patience of the many people who tried to help him, he was just unable to make any progress.

Eline at Animal Trust loves just this kind of dog, and when she offered him a place at her refuge in August we knew that Flash’s life was going to change for the better. It was not long before we had videos of him racing round their play parks happily, and I was able to see him on a recent visit, shortly before he was put up for adoption, and see how he had progressed.

Today, with the new year, his new life begins properly. He has a new home with another dog and the promise of lots of love and walks. There is still more work to be done, but of course in a family home he will get even more attention and will come on in leaps and bounds. What a great peice of news to start 2017! Many thanks to Eline and all at Animal Trust.

You will notice some changes in the blog this year, by the way. Now that we are well-established we are going to blog less frequently, leaving us more time for other activities. Don’t worry, we are still going to tell you about adoptions, and other SPA and dog welfare issues will be covered, just not necessarily every single day. We are still very much here, though, ready to help with any issues you might have or to help find you the perfect dog with whom to share your life.

Happy 2017 everyone!

Flash – ADOPTED thanks to Animal Trust
bif white specked dog