• DAY 150: THE RISE AND (almost) FALL OF THE GALGO – the story of the Spanish hunting dog

    Feb 10th
    Ebro - Charlotte's dog that I I photographed today against a white sheet I knicked from the hotel

    This is Ambo – Charlotte’s own rescued Gaglo that I photographed today in the sun against a white sheet I knicked from the hotel. More pics below.


    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.

    That's better. Chin up! Oranges grow (and fall) in the dog pen. Hotel sheets get dirty

    That’s better. Chin up! Oranges grow (and fall) in the dog pen. Hotel sheets get dirty but can be held up by gaffa tape.

    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!

    Don't know if this is actually spanish but you get my drift.

    Don’t know if this is actually spanish but you get my drift.

    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…

    Galgos for all

    Galgos for all

    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.

    Anyone can fire a gun...

    Anyone can fire a gun…

    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's animal welfare laws are kind of shaky

    Spain’s animal welfare laws are kind of shaky

    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!!

    'This is kind of fun!'

    ‘This is kind of fun!’

    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?


    That’s not just too much Spanish sun…

    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


    That’s more like it..

    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.

    Please, please go to Charlotte’s page and read this touching account of her view from the eyes of a Galgo.

    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 martin@yeartohelp.com


    At least Charlotte is able to smile...

    PRINCE: At least Charlotte is able to smile…

    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.

    Prince bedding down for what we hope we be one of many more nights...

    Prince bedding down for what we hope we be one of many more nights…

    Prince is so thin his back bones have broken through..

    Prince is so thin his back bones have broken through..

    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.


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    17 Responses to “DAY 150: THE RISE AND (almost) FALL OF THE GALGO – the story of the Spanish hunting dog”

    1. Hello Martin

      Your posts are currently a bit grim. Poor you to know all this stuff.

      I will message you privately.

      But keep on with the good work.

      Pen x

    2. Martin, Thank you for posting figures to go with these sad pictures.
      The EU is sponsoring 44 Million Euros a year for Spanish bullfighting? What a shame!:-(
      Despite the odds I hope you can post some positive Galgo news within the next days. Stay strong!
      All the best for you.

    3. So moving…so sad!

      Millie has her paws crossed for Prince.

    4. I apologize, I didn’t want to put a question mark behind the sentence with the 44 millions. It is a sad fact. Just google it.

    5. Hi Martin

      Loving your blog – sad at times, but you are doing a great job in helping to raise awareness of the cruelty going on around the world.

      First caught up with your blog when you were at ARK (India). We’ve helped out twice there – only walking the dogs as we don’t have any medical experience. Fingers cross we’ll going back next January.

      My brother and his family live in Tenerife and have 2 rescue dogs. One is a Podenco, and the other looks like Freeway from Hart to Hart! Really looking forward to meeting them both in June.

      Keep up the good work in helping to raise the profiles of the fantastic animal rescue and welfare centres that are out there.

      Take care


    6. thank you Lynda for reading and for helping with the dogs. Please spread the word, it’s so grim out here for so many dogs. I hope you can go back to Ark soon, they really do need what help they can get


    7. Hi Martin,
      Sounds pretty gruelling – I spent 3 weeks working in a donkey sanctuary in northern spain a couple of years ago and the stories of what donkeys went through was awful, not dissimilar to what you describe with the dogs.

    8. Hey anna, yeh I bet. It’s so grim out here for animals. Everywhere you look there are strays and tied up animals, I can only imagine what the donkeys went through. Hope you and Thomas are well, see you soon xx

    9. Just read your blog – wonderful that you are helping to raise the profile of the Galgos. Charlotte is an amazing woman and I am truly humbled by her dedication and relentless hard work. I adopted Gandalf from Charl last year – he has settled well with our three greyhounds and he is so loving and fogiving. I hope one day these precious angels will all be free of their torturers and loved and respected for the true beauties that they are!

    10. Hi Jay

      wonderful to hear. Yes Charlotte is so incredible but we all rely on people like you to complete the circle. thank you for your loving support of the dogs. Please keep reading and pass on the word



    11. Hi Martin,

      I couldn’t even bear to read the rest of the article after the ‘typing.’ It’s disgusting. This will haunt me for some time. I am animal mad and can’t even bear to hurt the proverbial fly. If you want I can sell your prints in my own gallery with all money going back to you to help the galgos. We would not take a penny from you or the galgos. I could also put them on our online shop but would need to charge postage for that like you are doing. Good luck with everything and keep up the good work.

    12. Hi Jenny

      thanks so much for your comment on my blog about selling the Galgo prints in your gallery.

      I’m very touched by your generosity. It would be wonderful if you could help raise money on the sale of these images in your gallery.

      Please let me know how we could do this. If you need to charge postage that is totally fine of course. You can either send the money to my blog and I can forward it to Charlotte or directly to Charlotte.

      thank you


    13. I have to say knowing what I was afraid to read is so heart wrenching it makes me sick.I do not understand why we can’t get these hunters to just let the dogs go for adoption. What kind of human being does this …??? I will only try to help these animals for the rest of my life… I love them…. Karma will come to those who deserve it and they will pay

    14. You can keep up to date on a daily basis with everything affecting the plight of the galgos on my weblog Galgo News and buy my definitive guide ‘From Heaven to Hell- The Story of the Galgo Espanol’ through Galgo News. You can also find out about the podencos and their suffering, both on mainland Spain and the Spanish Islands – Ibiza, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuenteventura – on my blog Podenco Post http://www.podencopost.com. You can learn how to help the dogs and the volunteers like Charl who work tirelessly day in, day out, year after year, helping them.

    15. Weeping, praying and wringing of hands achieve nothing. Writing, on paper, to the Spanish government, or to your own M.P. or to the Spanish embassy in your country, does help; also of course money helps – just giving up one cup of take-away coffee makes a difference; think what a difference each of us can make if we really care (and for the cats, donkeys, podencos, horses..)

    16. I’m slowly reading through what I’ve missed so far and will share your blog posts far and wide in an effort to support what you are doing for the galgos, podencos and the many other animals you are trying to save on your journey, It is thanks to people like you that others are inspired to help and to continue helping when all seems so bleak and hopeless. Thank you Martin, for bringing the story of Prince to public attention and for shining a light on the dedicated and devoted rescuers who give so much of themselves to change the world for the better.

    17. […] to trust us and I am very thankful he is in my life. So when I read Martin’s post ‘The Rise and Fall of the Galgo’ I felt sickened and compelled to help. (NB: I couldn’t get the post out of my head for days […]

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