Twilight has been part of the dog rescue landscape in south-west France for over a decade and there are few expat dog-lovers and French friends who haven’t come across one of the fundraising events, or read about the retirement home for old and, sick and disabled dogs on social media. In fact, this year we celebrate our twelfth anniversary of Twilight in August. But, did you know how Twilight came into being? You can read the full story in our biography Paws Before Bedtime (contact us by email if you’d like to buy a copy), but here’s a short intro to the Twilight story.
After four years living and working in North Wales. Leeanne and Mike and their three golden retrievers, Abby, Kizzy and Teg, set off on the adventure of a lifetime. The destination was Greece, where Mike had taken a job as Director of Studies at a school in Xanthi, close to the Turkish border. Stuck at home whilst Mike worked, Leeanne started to volunteer at the local veterinary clinic, helping Greek street dogs, and continued her Open University Psychology degree. Over the months their lives began to revolve around dogs more and more; both their own and strays that they cared for.
As time went by, the couple did consider staying permanently in Greece but then a number of events occurred, that proved to be a catalyst for change. First, Blackie, a street dog that they had adopted, died on the front porch – poisoned by local farmers. This was a common practice in Greece, another aspect of the poor treatment of animals evident in the numbers of stray dogs and cats roaming the towns and villages. Then, September 11 happened. A day that changed the lives of many, the world over. Overnight, Leeanne and Mike felt a change in the atmosphere in Greece: a nervousness and vulnerability.
Reluctantly, the decision was made to move on. With only a small budget, the rural lifestyle and attractive property prices in south-west France had something to offer. From Carcassonne in the far south moving north, they looked at over forty houses until Leeanne fell in love with a barn in the Dordogne village of Puyssibot. After renovating the two-room barn, which initially had no bathroom or drainage, the building became a beautiful three-bedroomed house. The couple soon established themselves in rural France, Leeanne running a holistic therapy and healing room, and Mike key-holding and property minding for the many British holiday-home owners in the area.
Dogs were still an important part of family life. From time to time various abandoned, sick or injured dogs and puppies passed through their doors. The majority were rehomed with friends and clients. All was well until the sad day that Kizzy passed over the Rainbow Bridge, leaving Teg alone and unhappy. Within days Teg became depressed, her grief was tangible, and it was clear that she needed a new canine friend. Leeanne and Mike were put in touch with Sue Glibbery at the PoorPaws adoption service for abandoned dogs in the department of the Lot, a couple of hours south. With Sue’s help and advice, Mike and Leeanne first adopted brother and sister, Bailey and Fiddich, and then Taffy, who is still part of the current Twilight Pudding pack. As they learnt more about the plight of homeless dogs in France, Leeanne and Mike decided that they would focus on adopting the older dogs that the refuges and adoption centres found it impossible to rehome. And so Twilight was born, with Nina, the first ‘official’ Twilight dog who had been left in the garden of her village house following the death of her elderly owner.