Feb 26th


    Waiting anxiously, net in hand, on the outskirts of town for the return of the two dogs.

    Olga waiting anxiously, net in hand, on the outskirts of town for the return of the two dogs. Soon they would come within catching distance.

    Angry, hot, frustrated and vaguely drunk. The rescue story comes to a conclusion. Or does it?

    I had a few hours to wait before I was to go back and meet my Spanish dog-catching women to try and rescue the Galgo and Podenco.

    Let’s call them Biggy and Smalls for now, we can only hope their mother’s loved them enough to give them proper names.

    I found myself back in the carpark of Lidl at 3pm feeling decidely tipsy and staring longingly through the window at the three-for-two offer on the white chocolate bars.

    This was not good.

    The only other male on the trip, my interpreter, had to go home to his kids (a really lovely chap, he had lost his long-standing job in the recession) and so I  dropped him at our inital rendevous via a trip to the local pub for some tapas. His suggestion.

    I’m a lightweight drinker and a heavy weight eater. This is a bad combo in Spain where child-sized portions of Spanish omelet are served with man-sized local beers. It turns me into a child-man of sorts. I got very upset to see that a lovely pet dog in the bar – owned by a local old man – also had a mark on his stomach from some sort of wire. What is wrong out here?

    this pet dog, owned by the man in the bar, seemed to also have a scar round his chest.

    this pet dog, owned by the man in the bar, seemed to also have a scar round his chest.


    I ran a few circles around Lidl like a confused Englishman. I drank water and chastised myself. I shook my head like a duck coming out of water. . Sober up Martin…for the dogs. For the readers. 

    A few hours later I felt a little better. Thank god Spanish have siestas and few people saw me.


    Sign language, bins and nets

    As the sun started to set I met with my four Spanish women again.

    Olga and three fine friends with net, waiting to catch the dogs

    Olga and three fine friends with net, waiting to catch the dogs

    They had a net with them.  I had no Spanish. I was now so desperate to catch the suffering Podenco that I tried to explain my plan: I wanted to climb on top of one of the tall dustbins by the side of which we woudl lay some food and then  jump down with the net onto teh dog. Like that!  The women looked at me confused. I wondered what the spanish word for  ‘idiot’ was. I decided I would let the experts take control.


    Biggy and Smalls by the main road as sun sets. We resume the rescue attempt but cars are a constant threat to the dogs safety.

    Biggy and Smalls by the main road as sun sets. We resume the rescue attempt but cars are a constant threat to the dogs safety.

    We didn’t ahve to wait long before the dogs appeared in the late evening sun.  We stationed ourselves a little away from the bins where we had left some food and where we knew they would come looking for scraps. As darkness quickly descended we waited for our moment.

    The bins where the dogs come at night

    The bins where the dogs come at night

    They approached along the side of the main road.  My heart paused  as I watched both dogs drift toward the traffic in the ever decreasing light. Neither the dogs nor the cars seemed to care of each other and it was astonishing no one was hit.  Head lamps swooshed past and lit up the dog’s silhouettes revealing their fragile forms. I had seen enough photos of broken Galgo legs to not want to see any more.

    They then came toward us and took some of the food.


    A dance of hope

    Carmen, one of the most experienced with dog rescue, approached gingerly. Barely visible in the dusty night, she came within a few feet of the dogs. She then moved away from them a little, teasing them nearer, they moved closer to her, she then moved closer to them, they moved back. For a long time there was an agonising and protracted dance of longing and distrust . The dogs wanted food but not the human hand that came with it.

    These back and forth movements were symbolic and deeply sad to me: there in micocosm was the task facing the world on a much larger scale – the need to heal the broken divide between man and the animals we abuse and I was watching the effort fall short. No fault of Carmen. Fault of the hunters.

    The Podenco, Smalls, was – of course – far behind Biggy, sitting in his own darkness and doubt. Leave that task to my big brother, too risky for me. 

    If only they knew. If only they knew how much better they would have it if we could reach them and let Charlotte’s love touch them.


    I’m sorry.

    I’m sad to say that we didn’t catch these dogs. It was impossible.

    This is not the ending you, or I, wanted.

    Darkness falls

    Darkness falls, hope dies.

    Since my flight was the very next day I write this from England with a heavy heart. I very much wanted to tell you about the neat happy ending and about cutting off that barbed wire or string from Smalls’ waist – CLIP….ahhh –  but I think, in a way, that this is a better story.

    Why? Because it is true. Happy endings are rare in this game. Both of these dogs are still out there, cold at night, dodging traffic by day.

    So why carry on reading this story and blog?

    Please please don’t turn away at this point. It would be easy to shut down and switch off because there is no simple ending. But this is all the MORE reason that we must keep our eyes and hearts open. It is because we can’t always help that when we do have the opportunity to help we must seize the moment.

    Does that make back-to-front sense?

    Charlotte told me today: ‘we see these souls and we cna’t reach them. This is what is hard..’


    Too distrusting to accept help - Smalls keeps his distance

    Too distrusting to accept help – too exhausted not to

    So…helping is not the challenge. NOT helping is the challenge. And if you read this words and feel bad, then that is already something positive. It may not seem so but it is something.

    I heard today from one of the Spanish women, via an english lady of course (hand signals don’t work over the internet), that they had gone back again to try and get Biggy and Smalls. Apparently the Galgo can be reached but not Smalls, the Podenco – he is too terrified and it is impossible. They made the decision, rightly, to not separate them but they will try again and go back. I will keep you posted.


    Ow. That hurts.

    I’m meant to be moving on to part TWO of this journey, working with wild animals (in India) but I have to say, despite my previous statement, this one is hurting me deeply. Maybe I should go back and try again. Another flight, more hotels, more photos. But for what? For not reaching this dog? Maybe he has already been hit by a car. And altough the days are warm the nights are deadly cold. I am torn between head and heart on this one.

    If anyone has any further thoughts on what to do I’m all ears.

    Please hope and pray for both these dogs.



    I’m all ears..just like this rescued whippet. Can the podenco ever be so lucky?







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    15 Responses to “Day 163: TRYING TO CATCH A LOST GALGO ..(CONCLUSION)”

    1. you wont be happy till these two dogs are being helped, why not send the money you would have spent on the flights etc to the spanish girls and ask them to go out every night and feed the same two dogs, if one person does this for a length of time the dogs will eventually trust them. sorry cant come up with anything better.

    2. Oh Martin, I am welled up with tears, but not in a bad way, yes sad, but in a way because your words speak what I feel too… yes my heart longs for the happy ending, but I know it is not always possible.The need to continue helping the ones that do come into our realm are the ones we keep fighting for. I can only thank the wonderful rescuers in Spain for trying the best they can. I loved the pictures of them huddled trying to make it work..I know how hard it is to leave empty. Thank you Martin for being there to show us the despair and the need to fight on. I pray somehow Smalls is saved with his big brother..for now I will hug my hounds, the ones that were saved…and not forget the ones left behind, ever…Telma

    3. Jacqueline has a good idea…they will eventually trust them

    4. Sadly a happy ending for these two dogs would not be a happy ending to the story for the story will and must go on. Good luck in getting a happy something on your next quest.

    5. thank you Yvonne

    6. 1. Yes, you must stop eating bacon!
      2. I’m so glad people like you exist! I rescue from Spain too, and I agree with Jacqueline’s suggestion too. If someone feeds them every evening, eventually they should be able to catch them. Sometimes I feel like giving up – I’ve lost faith in humans. I work with rescue parrots too,many of whom come to me after they’ve pulled out all the feathers on their bodies in despair at being kept, usually alone, in a cage – I despair for the human race. What happens to animals everywhere makes me cry, regularly. Animals will never be free from those individuals who feel it’s their “right” to do with them as they please, but if a few of us can make a difference, then we have to fight on. Please keep up your good work! I’m right behind you! (the one with the half naked parrot on her shoulder).

    7. Thank you Alicia, touching words. I shall look out for hte half naked parrot on your shoulder – then I shall be sure to spot you. Yes, birds alone in cages have always distressed me. Solitary confinement basically – but for no crime committed.
      Where abouts are you based?

    8. Martin, I am with Jacqueline on this. There must be a way to save these two dogs. It might take time. Sadly.
      I do understand that you are feeling bad and helpless at the moment being back in England. But you did a great job over there. And you DID make a difference with you blog!
      Please, bear in mind how much you have achieved so far.
      You are a true hero for me. Bless you.

    9. I have heard of live traps for dogs that are hard to catch. Is this a possibility? Please keep us posted! Thank you. Maureen

    10. What would I do if I were you? Go back and finish on a high note. It might be these guys, it might be the next. You were already out of luck with the little Podenco at El Paraiso, and now more unfinished business. And from what I gathered, they were other places you originally intended to visit, or did I get that wrong? This is too abrupt an ending …

    11. Martin…thank you so (and the ladies of course) for trying oh-so-hard to catch these two dear souls….YIKES..quite the ‘Herculian’ effort to be sure! After thinking this through….I would agree with some of the other commentators….if your heart so desires…then advance these ladies the funds you might have used to *try again*….fingers crossed…they just might win the two dogs over…. That is what I think, I would do in your shoes! God Bless you Martin…you are indeed a *humane hero*!!

    12. Martin, I’m based in Italy. The situation here with parrots is becoming like the USA, where the rescues are all full of unwanted birds. I wish someone would realise that birds just don’t belong in cages. Sadly, that day seems a long way off! At the rescue centre we also have wild birds which are confiscated by the forestry inspectors from people who illegally trap them and keep them in cages – then they bring them to us, where they are put into yet other cages, and forgotten about by the judges who need to sign the documents for their release! I get so angry because many of them die before they can be released (hard to find the right foods for some species)! I don’t see why they aren’t immediately released! I tried to interest a popular Italian programme which highlights animal abuse in the plight of these confiscated wild birds – but people don’t really care about birds (they think “it’s only a bird”). If only they realised just how intelligent and sensitive they are!
      I also volunteer with a couple of associations which rescue dogs from the perreras and bring them here to rehome – I help with the rehoming part. There are so many – it’s so horrible that Spain will do nothing for its own dogs. The king himself doesn’t set a good example by going elephant hunting!
      Ok, off to find homes for the new dogs being rescued at this moment from one of the worst perreras. Have you been to one of these places in Spain??

    13. yes I went to the perrera called Paradise! See my previous blog. Pretty tough. But I am going back to Spain to see more Galgos next week. I’ll drop you an email…


    14. Dear Martin,

      thank you so much for your dedication and your story. I’m very excited to to fly to Spain in 10 days to adopt an abandoned Galgo from Seville through ‘Galgos Del Sol’, People here (in the US thoughI I’m from Germany) ask me why I don’t rescue another dog from the shelters here like my first dog. I try to explain about the horrific situation of the Galgos in Spain…no one’s ever even heard about them here!
      I am very grateful for individuals and organizations getting the word out about animal sufferings and increasingy are reacting to it, including the torture of ‘factory farming’.

    15. thank you and keep spreading the word!!!!

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