DAY 150: THE RISE AND (almost) FALL OF THE GALGO – the story of the Spanish hunting dog
KEEP YOUR HEAD UP
Charlotte (of www.112carlotagalgos.com, Galgo Rescue) leant across to me today and – in a rare moment of calm between feeding the kids, cleaning the house, tending to Ebro, , worrying about the fundraising auction tomorrow and trying to fix the computer the cat has pissed on- told me that running a dog sanctuary can be a dangerous game.
‘It can break up marriages. Having to deal with so many injured dogs takes over your life. The suffering, the hours, the lack of money, it can lead to depression and breakdowns. I’ve heard many stories about relationships collapsing because of the pressure…. ‘
So why has she dedicated every remaining day of her life to these dogs?
And why is she still such a bubbling energetic likeable character? By now I’d be in the bed with Ebro.
But the more I understand the Galgos’ story, the more I understand Charlotte’s dedication.
And if you read on I think you will too.
She is not a crazy dog person, she’s a sane human responding to an insane situation. What is happening out here to these dogs needs to be shouted out from the rooftops. The dogs don’t have a voice, Charlotte does…and so do you. Please pass on this link and blog to anyone that might want to know. I’ll be trying to get press in the UK papers.
Below is a a brief look at how things stand – or collapse – today. It’ll open your eyes …and if they don’t water a little go stick a slice of onion in them you tough bastard.
A summary of the rise and fall of the spanish hunting dog
1. The Galgos rule!
The Spanish greyhound, or Galgo, was traditionally used for hunting by royalty and was so revered that to kill a Galgo was a crime equivalent to murder. Don’t they look stately!
2. Hey everyone, let’s all get a Galgo…
Over time, hunting became more ubiquitous and in deeper, poorer rural Spain it became common to own and even breed Galgos ( as well as Podenco dogs: a smaller, hardier breed of hunting dog used more often in the mountains. Galgo, the taller greyhound, are used mainly on the plains and are faster. For the sake of simplicity I’ll refer to both as ‘Galgos’)
3. Hunter’s don’t do it for money – they do it for fun. They also have tiny chorizo hanging between their legs.
Don’t think that some poor hunter needs to use his dogs to save on cash. Ballshit. It costs more to own and raise hunting dogs than to go and buy an organic, lovingly reared hare from Gordon Ramsey’s back garden. They do it for fun and a some sick twisted notion of tradition (back to the Bullfighting again). Hunting dogs are owned amongst many different socio-economic groups.
4 ‘Tradition and cultural values’ Ooh, we musn’t criticise those, we aren’t Spanish etc etc
A Galgo that is too old or too slow or too weak or just not into a crappy game of chase-the-hare tends to meet a brutal death because they have shamed the hunter. This is tradition.
The most infamous punishment is the ‘typewriter’ where a dog is hung from it’s neck so it’s back legs touch the ground but not it’s front meaning the dog has to support itself but shufflling or ‘typing’ its feet. When it no longer can bear itself it collapses, thereby hanging.
I WANT TO KILL SOMEONE!! (that’s not going to help anything, Martin)
Oh, by the way, hunting dogs are often kept in holes dug underground and kept ‘keen’ by not being fed for up to five days before a hunt (and that’s gonna make them perform better is it Mr Chorizo?). The caverns can be so damp that there’s evidence of hunter’s dowsing the dogs’ feet with a sort of anti-fungal syrup to stop the paws rotting.
5. Spain’s animal laws don’t do much
Spain has a reputation for animal cruelty that isnt helped by bullfighting. It also has one of Europe’s largest stray dog and cat populations and it’s fairly easy to see a miserable scruff walking past on the street. Less well known is it’s hunting dog story.
Spain is the only country in the EU to allow the hunting of wild animals to the death with dogs. Yes, the suffering of the dogs might be bad but let’s not forget the hare or the wild boar that come to brutal ends.
Although Spain has new(ish) laws to protect the abuse of domestic pets, Galgos are considered working animals and so don’t fall into the same category. Their legal status is murky. In other words the hunter’s get away with murder – literally.
There ARE still weak laws protecting Galgos, the problem is they are rarely, if ever, enforced
5. The bloody police are hunters too!!
The problem is two-fold
Firstly, power is localised in communities meaning that Madrid has little power
Secondly, the local police and the politicians often enjoy hunting themselves.The dogs are screwed.
6. What are the Spanish doing about it?
It’s estimated by campaigners that up to 50,000 hunting dogs are year are abandoned or killed (Charlotte thinks the actual number that die are more like 200,000 a year but most are never seen). The government does a pretty good job of collecting the ‘strays’ into dog pounds but a less good job of caring for them once they get there. The weaker dogs have to fight for food amongst the stronger dogs meaning they get even weaker and die. Which makes life easier for everyone. Er, except the dog.
If you don’t believe this scroll down some.
7… and then there were the rescue centres
The only tiny, weeny bit of hope is small little charities offering rehabilitation – like Charlotte’s.
I asked her to estimate what proportion of Galgo’s meet an untimely and brutal end. Her answer was 100%. Except for those that end up in rescue centres which is a tiny proportion. No hunter wants to keep an old dog. And most hunters can’t be bothered to keep dogs out of season.
You can donate direct to her if you wish or any money that comes to me while I am here I promise will go straight to the dogs. Or if you want to adopt any one of these amazing dogs then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is Prince royalty?
A dog called Prince has just come in.
He was taken off ‘death row’ from a pound by Charlotte. At the pound they said he was too weak (i.e hand’nt been given very much food). Here he is. They think he won’t make the night. If he gets through the next 24 hours he’ll have a very good chance of improving.
Tomorrow: paws crossed for Prince. Let’s hope Galgos are royalty after all. I’ll give a full update on his condition in 24 hours.