• Day 161: HUNTING A HUNTING DOG (part 1). Trying to catch an abandoned Galgo

    Feb 21st
    The town in which multiple abandoned Galgos had been seen

    The town in which multiple abandoned Galgos had been seen

    Could I spend a day trying to capture abandoned Galgos?

    How many abandoned Galgos are running loose throughout Spain anyway?

    How do you capture a very very fast Greyhound?

    How common is it to see tortured or dead Galgos?

    A Galgo, lost in the distance, beneath a roaring highway. Many Galgo get killed by cars.

    A Galgo, lost in the distance, beneath a roaring highway. Many Galgo get killed by cars.

    I’ve just spent a heart wrenching few days at the rescue centre seeing the survivors of hunting abuse: the broken bones, the xylophone chests, the sad eyes. Now I want to see how bad it is OUT THERE. I want to leave the safety of Charlotte’s centre and go try and rescue some wild, abandoned hunting dogs for myself.

    Can I do it? What would I see?

    These were some of the questions I asked myself as I set off before dawn on a mountainous road through Andalusia towards Seville where Galgos are reported to be running loose – and scared.

    The lost Galgo on the train tracks. How do you catch a loose hunting dog?

    The lost Galgo on the train tracks. How do you catch a loose hunting dog?

    When I was nineteen I cycled this route, all the way from Malaga to London. My knees have never forgiven me. It  was the height of summer and 40+ degrees.  Wherever I looked I saw dead dogs by the side of the road and the song ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen’ played round and round in my sunburnt head.  But I was too young and carefree to stop to think about these deaths or my own health.

    Now, as I retrace my steps some twenty years later, I have changed. Mine is a different journey and I wonder which is more challenging: the physical effort of youth or the winding path into my heart.

    Somehow I think this is the tougher challenge.

    I have no map and quite frankly I don’t know if I’ll get to where I don’t know where I’m going.

    How the hell do you capture a dog?

    What is the point when so many thousands are being dumped each year?

    Who on earth cares?

    I had arranged to meet some friends of Charlotte who knew where the abandoned Galgos were running loose and by 9am pulled up at the meeting spot.

    My expectations were shattered.

    An abandoned Galgo - tantalisingly close, but just out of reach - standing amid the rubble

    An abandoned Galgo – tantalisingly close, but just out of reach – standing amid the rubble

    Although the life of the hunting dog is ugly, I at least imagined (like you I suspect) that their environment would  be beautiful: a rural spain of wild forests and rich earth. If someone is going to hang you from a tree, at least let it be in a scented pine forest of wild boar.

    But the Lidl car park where we were meeting was not so special  – apart from the 3 for 1 chocolate offer – and nor were the tired and broken outskirts of the town I found myself in. I met with the women who helped Galgos in this area and we went off to the some fields full of rubble and rubbish.

    Is this REALLY where I would find those sleek impressive hunting dogs?

    Of course it was ! What was I thinking.

    Any abandoned dog would  be drawn to the frayed edges of towns to live on the scraps of life by the sides of roads. This is why so many abandoned dogs died in road accidents. A busy highway led to town but it also led to death. What I had seen in India I was seeing here, dogs walking a knife edge between survival and oblivion

    An abandoned building where some of the Galgo slept at night

    An abandoned building where some of the Galgo slept at night

    I read recently that dogs evolved on the scrapheaps of humans. It explains why Moose and Bug will NOT stop stealing food from people’s picnics in the park but it also creates an illusion of stray dogs as natural and acceptable – as if they are Darwin’s pets, roaming free in a genetic playground where the best scavenger will survive.

    But these sorts of edges of town are no playground and stray dog do not have a wonderful, natural life. Particularly not the Galgo.

    Very soon after getting out the car we saw our first lost Galgo. It trotted down a hot empty street. Somehow these dogs are too elegant to be wandering homeless – like watching a honed athlete beg for food. I chased it down the street but it was hopeless. A few corners and it was gone.

     

    The first Galgo we spotted was too fast for us.

    The first Galgo we spotted was too fast for us.

    Olga, one of the women told me how she would sometimes see Galgeuros, the Spanish hunters, take a dog towards the railway track and then come back without it. Later she found out why – she saw an injured greyhound dragged onto the track to be run over.

    A few minutes after hearing this we turned a corner and there, as if by poetry, we saw another Galgo, standing alone on the train tracks.

    I crept closer towards it

    To be continued…

     

     

     

     



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    13 Responses to “Day 161: HUNTING A HUNTING DOG (part 1). Trying to catch an abandoned Galgo”

    1. I’m on the edge of my seat here! OH, those poor, poor dogs. My heart is crying for them. I’m horrified at the people of Spain who would allow this barbaric treatment.

      Btw, I need to properly catch up with your past posts. I’ve had a busy time with family commitments and eye problems but I’m still here.

      Keep up the great work, Martin….and hurry up with Part 2 already. 😉

    2. Will do!! Thanks for reading…

    3. my heart breaks over and over for these dogs. and for man’s inhumanity.

    4. I know, not easy. Let’s keep on supporting people like Charlotte and those other’s doing such great work.

    5. Martin what you are doing is amazing, I have complete admiration and respect for you.
      All the very very best x

    6. thank you Rachel, very kind. Please pass on the word. The more that follow this blog the more that will know about it. Then we can make real change.

    7. heres a wee positive thought for you martin, I remember, as a dog obsessed child, that glasgow had lots of stray dogs on the streets, it was a normal part of our landscape and accepted, just as it is in spain, but with education and time, you hardly ever see a stray in glasgow now, its not the norm or accepted any more. so things can change, just takes time and education. hope you catch your dog, my sister in law hunches down so as not to intimidate them and offers up food. good luck

    8. Martin, this blog (and what you are doing) is amazing. I live in USA and I am lucky enough to have adopted one of the galgos that made it out alive. He will be loved and cared for for the rest of his life. What you are doing IS making a difference. Word is spreading. Less than a year ago, I had no idea what a ‘galgo’ was. Now I am advocating on their behalf. Your blog and photography is beautiful and touches many hearts (and wallets). Keep up the good work!

    9. thank you, what a wonderful comment! So nice to have your support! Keep reading!
      Martin

    10. Dear Martin…it is good for someone like you to come and see the reality of the Hunting dog. Depending on the region there are several breeds used by the ‘cazadores’. I see and try to help Podencos in my region..the Costa Blanca…but recently have taken the most beautiful pure bred ‘English Setter’ from the area of Viskaia in the north of Spain around the bay of Biscay. Here the plight is the same as for the Galgos and Podencos. All of them are treated with the same disrespect. A commodity to be disposed of when the next litter is due and room has to be made for the new arrivals. If they live for more than three years it is a miracle…most are around 2 to 3 years old…not even in their prime but already a burden. Depending on the age and education the hunter will either dump in the local perrera or use the old fashioned method of disposal…all cruel and inhumane. The method favoured in my area is to drive them out into the campo and then break their front legs so they can’t walk or run home and so they die of starvation and the elements. Things are changing as the young Spanish have become involved in the saving of animals but in my lifetime it is too great a challenge and so I just hope that with more people like you it will speed up the process.

    11. Hi Penelope

      totally heartbreaking to hear. Thank you for supporting these dogs and all you do. I will do what I can to raise awareness. Heartbreaking

      M

    12. I have recently adopted a Spanish Galgo and they make wonderful pets, it’s such a shame that they are treated like vermin. As I am writing this I look at Nicolai and think where he was this time last year on the streets and covered with so many ticks that the rescue said it was the worst they have seen. I hope and and pray that they all will find there forever sofa, keep up the wonderful work you are doing.

    13. thank you for the kind comment and for being a Galgo rescuer too!

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