Saving Galgos In Spain

April 5, 2011

Rescuing Abandoned Galgos and Podencos.

After I wrote my last post, about our ever-growing household of dogs – all in some way ‘abandonados’, I almost immediately found a blog where a group of people are actually trying to do something about all the abandoned dogs in spain – mainly galgos and podencos, but I would imagine they wouldn’t turn any abandoned dog away.

Betty the Galgo

Betty - rescued and now in her new home

The pictures in this post are taken from their blog and I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say, these are beautiful animals.

These people feel like us. They cannot comprehend how certain breeds of dogs can be treated not as pets, but as easily-discarded hunters.

But unlike us (we just ‘go with the flow’ and try to do our best to care for them), they have coordinated a rescue centre called Galgos Del Sol.

Their blog (which has regular updates of the latest galgos they have rescued) is called Saving Galgos In Spain, a must!

And yes, it is a must. Galgos (and Podencos) are hounds. They are, essentially, a hunting breed, but that does not mean they cannot be pets.  In fact, with care and the right attitude, anyone can have a galgo for a pet. You just need to understand them first.  And that doesn’t take long, because they are friendly, intelligent dogs.

Galgo Skye

Skye is a beautiful galgo typical of the breed.

Galgos look like thinner versions of the English greyhound. They are swift on their feet, with keen eyes and a keen sense of smell – all the essentials for a hunter.

And that’s their downfall.

Like in certain circles in the UK, hunting is a big sport in Spain, especially hare coursing. And every hunter prides themselves on having a pack of galgos (or sometimes podencos) to catch their prey.

The problem arises when the hunting season ends. Does the hunter keep the galgo until next year’s hunting season, or abandon it?

If the galgo is a bitch, at least she is ‘breeding material’ and she will be kept to breed, but often then abandoned as she has done her ‘work’.

If her puppies are all males, only those deemed to be ‘the best’ will be kept. The rest will be abandoned somewhere. If they are females, they will most likely be kept…until after they have had their first set of pups.

This is not to say that everyone who keeps (or breeds) galgos is so calous. but many still are.

Because galgos are not seen as ‘pets’.

Jenny the Galgo

Jenny an abandoned Galgo now rescued by Galgos Del Sol, brought back to health and on her way to her new home

In Andalucia, where we live, there are at least as many Podencas as Galgos. They are a very popular breed here.

Podencos can have many of the same ‘essential hunting traits’ as the Galgo. They also have even keener hearing.

The one advantage that the podenco has over the galgo is that they are smaller dogs. And this makes them  slightly more likely to become house pets. But there are still many abandoned podencos.

Our village appears to be a ‘stop place’ for abandoned galgos and podencos. It is the last village on the route before a large town, and it seems as if these dogs slowly make their way through the different villages and settle in ours (perhaps because there is ‘a mad English couple’ willing to feed them…).  So we see a lot of these dogs, often arriving in a pitiful state, covered in tics, virtually starving, and in need of a home.

We can only do so much.

Many of these ‘abandonados’ will either starve to death, die of disease, be run over by a car, or just as bad, be picked up and taken to a ‘perrera’ (basically a killing station for abandoned dogs), where ‘humane’ does not really come into the way these poor dogs are put down.

Tina a three month old Podenca

Tina a three month old Podenca is looking for someone to care for her

So, when someone has the tenacity to set up a rescue centre for Galgos it is only right to give it all the publicity it deserves. And hopefully do something to help them.

It is not easy caring for abandoned dogs (as we have found out). Most abandonados need urgent health care, including vetinary treatment and a diet to bring them back to good health. And, in the case of a rescue centre like Galgos Del Sol, there is paperwork, finding homes for their dogs (and making sure they go to good homes), plus constant advertising costs to ensure that every dog in their centre finds the home it deseves.

Those who run Galgos Del Sol have no idea I’m writing this post. I literally found their blog as a matter of chance. But once I read it, I knew I had to do something to help, however small.

So for anyone reading this post, you can visit the blog here for the latest news, or their website Galgos Del Sol, or, if you want to help straight away, contact galgosdelsol @ hotmail.com (take out the gaps).

Saving Galgos in Spain is a must, so please take a look at the website and the blog and see if there is anything you can do to help.

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When you just can’t say no to an ‘abandonado’.

It’s been a long time since I posted on this blog. Life in Spain goes on, with its good and sometimes bad moments, but overall, things are good…. even though our casa pequena is now a home for many dogs!

As readers wlll know, we arrived in Spain in 2006 with two dogs – a greyhound cross and a saluki (both UK rescue dogs), and by 2007, we had three dogs – a podenca stray decided to make her home with us and as she had nowhere else to go, we could hardly refuse.

Life went on for a while with no further dogs added. Although neighbours often brought us ‘puppies they thought we would like’, we said ‘Lo siento, pero no. Nuestra casa es muy pequna’. and although we felt guilty, we knew that caring for three very active dogs and making a comfortable space for them in our house was enough.

For a while, we cared for a neighbour’s dog, because they were both working long hours and told us they could no longer care for her. Sadly she died a few months later.

She was a lovely, friendly dog and, despite having such a pequena casa, we did give some thought to replacing her. But it was only a thought….

Then one day late last summer, my husband was walking our three hounds when they dragged him over to some bushes where they could hear a pitiful wailing noise.

Two tiny puppies were snuggled together, trying to hide from the rain.  They were very frightened.

After asking me (how could I refuse?), my husband went back to the bushes with a crate, picked up the two puppies and brought them back to the house.

They were barely weaned. For the first couple of days we encouraged them to eat soaked puppy meal by getting them to lick it from our fingers first.

The two puppies are now 9 months old. They are vaccinated, chipped and have all the paperwork to say they are ours.

But not to put too finer point on it, they are a pain in the butt. Both hiperactive (they drive our two eldest dogs almost insane). One needs a complicated, expensive operation because he was born with ‘a few things in the wrong place’, but we are holding off until we are sure he can cope with the op (when the vet first saw him, he said he wouldn’t survive a month, so now he appears to be thriving, we want to make sure we don’t put him at risk with what might be an unnecessary op).

But they are dogs with character (goodness knws what character though 🙂 ) and they are now an essential (if manic) part of our family.

In the meantime, a podenca bitch in our village gave birth to 4 puppies and settled with them in a nearby cave. My husband took it upon himself to feed them every day. They thrived as well. But one day, mum and three of the puppies disappeared. We were told later that someone had picked them up for hunting. I hope they survived.

The podenca who had escaped the hunter remained in the cave (fed daily by my husband) and refused any contact with humans apart from him. Several villagers tried to entice her to their houses, but she wasn’t having any of that.

Until a couple of days ago, when a villager approached my husband and asked if he would help him to pick her up.  We know the man. He is retired, a widower, not into hunting, and he assured my husband that he would look after the podenca well. He wanted her for a companion. So my husband reluctantly placed a lead on her, picked her up and gave her to the man.

He was quite upset, but felt he did the right thing, as we couldn’t keep her in our house – she refused to enter the front door.

But our neighbours had been watching us and assumed that, despite our assertions that we had no more room for new dogs, we now had five dogs and were willing to take care of more.

This assumption was probably strengthened when two spaniel type dogs arrived in our village. They are being fed by us as well…

The cost of dog food is getting higher than the cost of our own meals!

Now, it seems that most of the villagers here do actually like dogs. It’s just that (apart from a few like the guy who wanted a dog for companionship), they don’t want the time and expense of looking after them.

Whenever a new stray dog arrives in our village, he or she is fed with scraps by the villagers and they do look out for them. But that’s as far as it goes.

We have developed  a sneaking suspicion that we have been promoted to ‘dog carers’  by an unnofficial village council.

This was confirmed a week or so ago, when a starving galgo/podenco cross appeared in our street… and the neighbours knocked on our door, telling us that he needed feeding!

He moved in to our house today, timid but welcomed by the pack…

But in the meantime, two days ago, we had a knock on the front door and on opening it no one was there, but a tiny puppy was curled up on our step….

This puppy looks like a podenca cross (but without the long nose). It’s about the size of a largish hamster and very cute….

So this morning, off went my husband to the vets with our ‘new puppy’. She is barely six weeks old. A small breed of goodness knows what, but in good health.

We haven’t even thought of a name for her yet, but we now have another sack of small puppy food (cost 22 euros…), she has had her first vaccinations and basically, she is ours!

I’m sure whoever left her on our doorstep with be satisfied with the care and attention she is getting…

That now makes seven dogs living in our tiny house!

I think we need to talk to the neighbours and tell them this time that when we say ‘enough is enough’ we mean it!

Telefonica Trials

September 16, 2008

A confused post about Telefonica…

Life in Spain is good most of the time. Despite the ‘little annoyances’ we have been subject to over the last two years, it is still a great place to live, no question. But when things go wrong I wish we didn’t nearly always encounter the ‘manana problema’. And it is a refreshing change when ‘manana’ turns out to be today… or perhaps it doesn’t…

I will explain…

To publish a post to this blog I need to use the Internet, obviously. But in actual fact, I am writing this entry on a blog poster and hoping it will eventually be published, as at this precise point in time we do not have access to the Internet; at least, not reliable access anyway.

This is not an unusual occurrence. Our ‘rural ADSL’ has its moments of being offline at some point every two or three days, but usually only for a few minutes or a couple of hours at most. Sadly this time it could be intermittent (or offline completely) for a few days.

internet-altemark

Internet Statement by altemark on flickr

Telefonica are very proud of their rural ADSL network, and I guess, all things taken into consideration, they have a right to be. Spain isn’t an easy region to make available to the internet, with its mountain villages tucked away everywhere off the beaten track and the rather haphazard system used for the telephone lines. And recently, rural ADSL has been upgraded; no longer do we have to wait for ever for a webpage to load or give up the opportunity of watching a funny YouTube video because of slow download speeds. Now our line speed is respectable (well, respectable for rural ADSL anyhow…). We can log on and browse with the rest of the world and not forego pages which are heavy to load.

And when you consider where the telephone boxes are situated in most rural areas, it is no mean feat that they work at all. In our village, the switch box is housed in a ramshackle hut down an alleyway between two houses. It looks like it would make a great hiding place for local strays, allowing they could find their way through the heavy locks which look sturdier than the shack itself (and nothing appears to deter the local stray cats and dogs).

But so far the switch box has weathered most (but not all) storms and the wires do not appear to have been chewed into or disturbed by anything. There again, allowing for the current situation, I could be wrong.

Two days ago our phone lines went down. Not an unusual occurrence either. But a telephone call to Telefonica (with the constantly repeated phrase ‘English’ given to the answerphone message) and an explanation to the English speaking operator (always easier…) got a fairly swift response. The engineers fixed ‘el problema’ the very next morning.

Not so the Internet however.

I was working in the kitchen when I heard the neighbour’s telephone ring and I thought “great, now I can get on with my work on the net”. But it wasn’t to be. The little ‘msn messenger man’ spun round and round trying to log me in, with no success. Never mind, I tried loading Firefox , as Internet Explorer is a pain in the backside loading anyhow. But nada, just the ‘this webpage isn’t available’ notice.

So still no Internet.

After checking all connections in the house, my husband reluctantly called Telefonica again (he hates having to repeat ‘English’ several times to the answer phone…). He explained the situation (“Si, ahora tenemos una linea, pero no, no tenemos el internet” repeated several times, just to make sure…) and the woman on the end of the line said she would call the engineers again, but it may take a while for them to respond.

I guess they hadn’t thought to check that the Internet switches in the telephone box were still working when they checked out the phone switches. An easy mistake to make, I guess, after all, no one had thought to mention that we had no Internet, we assumed they would realise this as the phone lines were not working…

Anyway, within a few hours the engineer turned up to check the Internet switch in the phone box. Sure enough, it was faulty. He rang us to say it would be ‘manana’ before he could fix it and went away. The woman from Telefonica rang to inform us as well, ending her call with the usual “Is there anything else I can help you with? Have you considered getting your TV through our ADSL lines too…?” (My husband was tempted to reply that it would be nice to have a working ADSL line before considering that one, thank you…).

But strangely, as I am typing this post, the Internet is flickering on and off. Sometimes it is loading, but very slowly, sometimes nothing at all. Either way, that wasn’t happening before. Whether or not the engineer came back early to fix it, without telling us, I don’t know… It doesn’t seem to be considered important to tell us what is going on when something is mended, only when it is broken… but I do know that ‘flickering on and off’ will be a bitch to explain to the Telefonica help line if it continues…

So, if this post ends up on my blog at the same date I gave to the publication, perhaps the ‘Telefonica man’ did solve the problem without waiting for manana.

But if he did, he didn’t do a complete ‘fix’. And if he didn’t, I guess he is coming back manana… or perhaps not…

The weather here in Southern Spain is very, very hot at the moment. Most days temperatures pass 37 degrees centigrade (99 Fahrenheit). Some days they go well above this.

Going outside during the hottest parts of the day is a pastime endured only by ‘mad dogs and Englishmen’. More sensible people (including us) remain in their homes (or the local bar) in the relative cool of the air con. The risk of sunstroke is too high to be ignored and the sheer exhaustion summer heat brings is not to be taken lightly.

High temperatures in Spain are causing other ‘problems to health’ as well. Over the last few weeks, heath fires and forest fires have raged in many parts of Spain. We have watched them on TV and hoped they didn’t come this way. But now they have reached our village.

Here comes the helicopter

Is that a helicopter?

A few days ago, we were sitting in our lounge, when the peace was interrupted by the loud drone of a helicopter. The noise was so loud, it sounded like the vehicle was outside the door. We have the occasional ‘helicopter visit’ (usually by the Spanish trafficos, trying to catch out unsuspecting speeding motorists), but they never fly this close.

So we went up to the roof terrace to have a look.

Whats That Smoke?

Whats That Smoke?

We arrived in time to see a fire helicopter pulling away, after it had dropped gallons of water onto a heath fire which was raging all across the mountain at the top of our village.

The shot above is of only one fire – there were several burning away all along the top of the mountain.

Here’s one from another angle:

Heath Fire

Heath Fire

The smoke you see in the foreground, is from the fire closer to the village that the helicopter crew were trying to put out first.

Heath fires and forest fires in Spain are hard to put out. Access for the usual fire service vehicles is often difficult, owing to narrow or non-existant roads. In any case, it takes even a speeding ‘Bombero’ (Fire Service) vehicle many wasted minutes to get to a relatively isolated mountain area. We have to rely upon the skill and dexterity of the helicopter crews from the Spanish Civil Protection Unit.

And, as in this case, one helicopter…

Getting Close...

Getting Close...

The helicopter flew away to fill its ‘bambi bucket’ with more water. We waited and watched the largest of the heath fires raging and getting ever closer to the pine trees at the top of the village. It seemed like an age before the helicopter returned. It was actually about seven or eight minutes before we heard the drone again and saw…

The Helicopter In The Far Distance

The Fire Helicopter In The Far Distance

The fire helicopter was returning. It was so far away it is only a spot in the photograph above.

The helicopter crew had to do a number of ‘runs’ to put all the fires out. The shot below was taken after three separate attempts to damp down the biggest fire, and the fire was still fighting back.

This Heath Fire Took A Lot Of Damping Down

This Heath Fire Took A Lot Of Damping Down

But eventually the helicopter crew got the upper hand of the heath fire. The shot below was taken after a couple more ‘dampening runs’. The crew returned with more water, to put out all the residual fires around the main one (and the smaller ones still burning away across the mountain top).

The Heath Fire Almost Out

The Heath Fire Almost Out

And eventually peace reigned again in our little Spanish village.

I’ll tell you what. I wouldn’t want to have been a member of that helicopter crew. They had to ‘dive bomb’ those heath fires again and again to drop the ‘water bombs’ from their helicopter. That takes real guts.

As an afterthought. No one seems to know why the fire started. It could simply have been the intense heat of the sun working on a broken bottle or a discarded cigarette end, and the warm breeze fannning and spreading the flames. It could even have been a ‘controlled burn’ of scrubland which got out of hand (although no one is saying this and it is unlikely to have been the case).

Either way, if you are travelling in Spain this summer (or anywhere else where it is really hot). Please don’t throw fag ends out of your car window (or leave used bottles lying around).

The results may not be nice…

We have had ‘drain problems’ again.

After the local plumber ‘did his magic’ with his rods and various foul smelling chemicals, life got back to normal for a while…

But then, about a month ago, I was in the shower whilst our washing machine was on. The washing machine emptied… and my feet were suddenly engulfed in soap suds! Obviously the ‘drains fix’ had not been a permanent one.

Well, we could have called the plumber back, but were loath to do so. He had not been cheap and he had not completely fixed the problem. Haggling in Spanish to try to get him to come back and fix it for free was not something we felt would achieve a satisfactory outcome.

When we had had potential problems with our Saluki and had spoken to the ‘translator man’, my husband had also mentioned our ‘drains problem’ and the man said he would help if necessary. So my husband rang him again and the guy rang the local council for us and got us a visit from the sanitations department (or whatever they are called).

But, as these things happen, by the time the sanitations man arrived, the problem had gone away again. The engineer decided that this looked like an outside drains problem rather than one inside our house. We breathed a sigh of relief as this would entail no more cost for us. So, the man and his team had a look down the street drain… and declared ‘no problema’.

Hmmm, what to do now? We just crossed our fingers and hoped ‘el problema’ would not return. Of course it did.

The Rain in Spain by Ed Tarwinski A few days later, the weather turned bad. Torrential rain and high winds buffetted our village. Because of a strange planning arrangement when our house was built, we collect rain water from surrounding houses. It passes along their gutters into a pipe which meets up with our house drains.

In the early hours of the morning, I was doing my night time shift on the computer, when I heard the dreaded bubbling and gurgling noises again. I look in the bathroom with trepidation… and found our bath filled with rain water.

The rain eventually stopped and the water slowly drained away, but we were left with a very blocked drainage system. Time to call out the council engineers again. The next morning, my husband drove down to the local council and asked for their help.

An hour or so later, two engineers arrived, armed with rods and hoses…and a pneumatic drill. One of them proceeded to drill a large hole outside our front door. My husband tried to tell him that it was very unlikely the drains came out there, as the outgoing pipe under our house was about 10 metres to the left of this spot, but the engineer declared that “esta aqui” because that was the spot under the water meter. He carried on drilling.

Big Hole in Toronto - even bigger than the one outside our house Pieces of concrete and earth flew everywhere as the guy got into his stride. Our whole house shook and, I guess, so did all the other houses in the street. However, when he was stood almost shoulder deep in the now very wide hole, the engineer admitted defeated. The drain “no esta aqui”. My husband gently pointed to the spot 10 metres away for the second time and the engineer shrugged and said “vale” and moved his drill to the required spot.

About two seconds later, he found the drains access. it was a couple of inches below the road surface. Now the two engineers could begin inspecting and working on the drain with their rods and hose.

To cut a long (and very messy) story short, they managed to fix ‘el problema’. It was internal to our house, but they fixed it for us at no cost. After clearing the drain completely (the previous plumber had just ‘made a hole’ in the blockage), they showed us what had caused the problem in the first place.

When our house was renovated, we had assumed that new pipework would be installed throughout. There had been nothing much wrong with the original pipe running under our living room floor, but it was old and a different circumference to new pipes, so joining the pipes from the new extension would have presented a problem.

However, it appears that ‘new pipework throughout’ had not been the rule when the project was under way. The old pipe had been left and the new drainage pipe from the extension had been joined to it, by placing the smaller (new) pipe some way inside the older one. This had left a ridge where the new pipework ended and this ridge had, over the months, caught stray pieces of toilet paper. These had become wedged, making a larger ridge for more to catch on. You get my drift…

The engineer told us it was “muy mal” that our builders had installed pipes this way. He said we were going to be faced with the same problem again in a few months time, unless we had the old pipe replaced.

Bob The Builder To do this would mean digging up our living room floor, not to mention the cost of more building work.

I wonder if you still read this blog Mr Project Manager? If you do, then perhaps you would like to come and install the new pipe work for free? It must have been your decision to install the drainage system like this in the first place. There again, perhaps not, we could well do without further stress.

We still have a very large hole outside our front door. The engineers said they, or someone else, would be back ‘mañana’ to fill it in and lay new concrete. We have learned, however, that ‘mañana’ does not necessarily mean ‘the next day’ so we’ll wait and if no one turns up in another week or so my husband will go to the council and ask them to call again.

In the meantime, he has filled in the hole as best he can and covered the earth with some left over tiles. The neighbours are not particularly impressed as this does tend to ruin the look of the street a little. I guess that council visit should be made sooner rather than later…

But we are not complaining about the engineers’ work. They did it all for free and unblocking internal drains was not their job. We are just so glad they were willing to help.

Of course, at some time soon we will have to think about getting replacement pipes fitted in our house. This is more expense we hadn’t envisaged and certainly cannot afford right now.

Did you hear me say “no me lo puedo creer”? No, I’m afraid not. Having had so many problems with the renovation work before, I can believe that this particular problema has happened only too well…

Hound Problems

April 12, 2008

This post isn’t full of pictures because, basically, it’s serious.  However, it still has elements of ‘no me lo puedo creer’, but then it would, wouldn’t it…?

As regular readers know, we have three dogs, all hounds.  Two we brought with us from the UK and the other (our little ‘Scavenger’) adopted us back last year.  Our two ‘Brit dogs’ are large hounds – a Greyhound and a Saluki.  Up until very recently, although Savenger had been widely ignored (or verbally abused…) by the villagers, our two ‘Brit hounds’ had been well-regarded, with comments ranging from ‘muy bonitas’ to ‘son muy rapido, no? Me gustan mucho!’  But things have changed, we hope not for long, but who knows?

A few days ago, our little Scavenger got into a fight outside our house with another village dog (who, I have to say, had been antagonising her for weeks).  I was upstairs and this all happened rather quickly, but my husband rushed outside to get her in, but, in his haste, left the door ajar … and our Saluki decided to investigate.  It appears that he decided that Scavenger needed a helping hand…

By this time, the gentleman who owns the other village dog was trying to kick Scavenger away, while my husband was trying to grab her, whilst shooing our Saluki back into the house.  Our Greyhound, at this point, decided to amble out to investigate, only to get a kick for her troubles from the gentleman.

At this point, the gentleman panicked (understandably, considering the noise now ensuing – mainly from his own dog, still trying to take a piece out of Scavenger).  He put his hand down among the two scrapping dogs to ‘rescue’ his perro.  It is never a good idea to put your hand amongst fighting dogs.  The gentleman received a bite.

In all the furore, my husband had grabbed Scavenger and shood our other two hounds back inside.  He didn’t notice that the gentleman had been bitten (and neither did I, watching from the upstairs window), but my husband had received a nip himself, from the gentleman’s dog.  In any case, by this time the gentleman was rapidly walking away, carrying his still snapping and barking dog, and cursing loudly.

As soon as my husband had ‘had a word’ with our three hounds, and I had washed his hand and ensured the dog nip wasn’t deep, he rushed up to the gentleman’s house to apologise and to check if everything was ok.  But he received no reply.  Neither did he receive a reply when he tried again the following morning.

However, the following evening there was a knock on the door.  It was the gentleman from up the street, speaking very rapidly in spanish, while gesticulating wildly and waving a heavily bandaged thumb in the air.  We invited the gentleman in and were (secretly) relieved that our Saluki and Scavenger bore him no ill will for the day before’s kicking and welcomed the gentleman warmly.  Our Greyhound (having a slightly larger brain and thus a better memory), was less pleased to see him, but restrained herself to a rumbling growl now and again at said gentleman (after all, she must have felt a sense of injustice here…).  After much deliberation, trying to be friendly, diplomatic and apologetic all at the same time as attempting to translate, we ascertained that we were to meet up with the gentleman in two day’s time at the village medico, and to bring our dogs’ papers with us.  The gentleman then pointed to our Saluki and said it was most important that his papers were in order, as he was the one who had bitten him…

I asked the gentleman if he was absolutely sure that this was el perro who had bitten him, but he was adamant.

Now I am not at all sure about this.  From my viewpoint, it was not our Saluki who did the damage and from the position of the dogs, it was much more likely to have been the man’s own dog, or Scavenger.  Plus, we know our hounds.  Yes, they have sharp teeth and rapid instincts, but it is those instincts which make me sure they would not knowingly bite a human.  They can withdraw just as fast as they can bite if the object they are aimed at isn’t the correct one.  But, the man did put his hand down among fighting dogs, so I can never prove that it wasn’t our Saluki who did this.

Be that as it may, we still had the distinct possiblity of a major crisis on our hands.  Our Saluki was being accused of biting a human and he was also (according to our rough translation of the man’s rapid spanish) being depicted as ‘a dangerous dog’.

Very recently, the Government of Andalucia has toughened up its laws on ‘Dangerous Dogs’.  It has now defined 15 ‘dangerous breeds’, plus given other catch-all criteria for dogs considered dangerous which do not fall among these breeds.  They have also instigated a wide scale advertising campaign to publicise these changes.

Owning a ‘dangerous dog’ now entails cripplingly high insurance fees, strict regulations about where the hound can be kept, rules on when it can leave your house, when it can be walked, muzzled of course and with no other dog present, and who is allowed to walk it (a person considered strong enough to control it).  Plus immediate castration.  If all of these measures are not carried out immediately the dog is defined as dangerous (or if you know it is covered already by the ‘dangerous dog’ criteria), it will be removed from your property by the policia and destroyed.

None of our hounds come under the ‘specified breeds’ of dangerous dog, but our Saluki, and our Greyhound, could, if the local authorities deemed, come under a couple of the other ‘catch-alls’; our Saluki by height and weight (only just though), and our Greyhound by height.  There are many catch-all items on the list and no vet (or anyone else we have checked with) seems to know whether a dog has to fit all these criteria, some of them, or whether only one item from the list can be used to define them as ‘dangerous’ if the person doing the defining so chooses.  We are, of course, also hindered by the fact that we speak little ‘legal spanish’ and would be hard put to debate the issue in front of any authority in the area.

This was turning into what could be a nightmare situation, which could involve not only our Saluki, but our Greyhound too.

Our two ‘Brit Hounds’ have been through a lot during our move to Spain.  The long ferry journey, travelling thousands of miles in a motor home, waking up each morning for a while and being somewhere completely new (often with dogs in the area who were not friendly to strangers), living for months on end in our motorhome when we were stranded on the campsite waiting for our house to be completed, witnessing our stress as so many things went wrong, finally settling in to a new home, but in a strange country with strange (and sometimes uncomfortable and even frightening) weather, plus many more situations they have had to face.  And throughout all of this they have remained stoic, good natured and incredibly loyal.  Yet now it seemed they could be victims of something which was not their fault (it was Scavenger, after all, who had started the fight) and we, with our poor language skills and ‘outsider’ status, would be hard pressed to prevent things turning out badly for them.  What on earth could we do about this?

Well, after a tearful (on my part) discussion, we got down to considering our options.  We could get in touch with the local ‘hound rescue’ centre and ask for their help, but the owner of this (very good) operation is the wife of our errant ‘project manager’, so we did not know just what the reaction would be to our pleas for help.  Although, I have to say here that, when it comes to hounds, I think they would have helped all they could.  But that option would probably mean letting them have our dogs, which we didn’t want: more stress for our hounds and, selfishly, for us.

In my distress, I even considered booking a quick flight back to the UK, taking our two hounds with me, but where I would stay with them when I got there was another question (although there would be Greyhound and/or Saluki Rescue if all else failed).  But that would leave my husband on his own in Spain with no one (apart from Scavenger, of course, who he was not particularly happy with at that moment) to keep him company and me in the UK, far away from home.  Not a great option either.

So what else was there?

My husband went on the net and contacted various ‘ex pat’ forums, who have members who are able to answer and give advice on issues like this.  We waited for the reply.

The next day there were several replies to my husband’s cry for help.  The general consensus was ‘front up at the medico’s tomorrow and hope for the best’ and get back to them if there were any problems … oh yes, ‘and take a translator with you’.

Finding a translator was going to be a problem.  However, there is one couple in our village where the husband is a Brit and the wife is Spanish.  We contacted them.  To our relief, the wife agreed to come with us to the medico’s the next morning, to help translate between us all, but her English isn’t much better than our Spanish, so her husband gave us the telephone number of an Englishman in the next village who speaks fluent Spanish and who helps people out in emergencies like this.  My husband rang him.

The ‘translator man’ was helpfulness itself.  However, he was offering a helping hand to another English couple, so could not go to the medico’s with us the next day, but suggested that we get our ‘translator’ to ask that the meeting be held the next day, when he would be able to be present.  So, we had to initially front up and face the consequencies with our Spanish translator and hope for the best,

The next morning, we and our translator turned up bright and early at the village medico’s, us with severe trepidation, her with her typical friendly, laid back attidude.  “Esta bien”, she told us, “No es problema”.  We were not so sure…

Eventually the gentleman arrived and hesitantly stood next to us in the queue (the medico was late), but our translator soon put him at his ease and even got him smiling.  She then told his tale to other waiting patients, who commiserated with him, but told him it was his own fault for putting his hand down among fighting dogs.  The man mellowed a little, and by the time we got into the medico’s office, he was agreeing that it was an accident.  He was still insisting, however, that  it was our Saluki who had bitten him, so his papers had to be checked, if only to ensure that his rabies jabs were up to date (they are).

The medico filled in the mandatory health forms, checked our Saluki’s papers (asking us what on earth a Saluki was), rang the Area Health Authority to give them her findings, and then told us that everything was in order, and ‘no problema’.  Our very helpful translator repeated this to us in her halting English, emphasising that ,”esta bien.  No problema”.  Outside again, we thanked her profusely and she again repeated “no problema” and went on her way.  We gave the gentleman a lift back to his house and he was laughing and joking too (probably at our expense, we can’t be sure..) and when we got indoors, we both gave a long sigh of relief and a long hug to our hounds.

But it wasn’t over.

The next morning we received a telephone call from the local health authority.  My husband was to go to what we translated as ‘la vetinaria’  that morning, bringing our Saluki with him and all his papers.  Again, we feared the worst.

Off went my husband with our Saluki, leaving me at home very tearful, with our other two hounds, who also looked very dejected (one of their number leaving the house on their own is never good…).  He turned up at ‘la vetinaria’, very concerned about what he intended to do to our Saluki, only to be told that he had got the telphone message wrong.  The business in question was about ‘la vetinaria’, but it was actually being dealt with by the local health authority offices, so off he went again.

Outside the local authority offices another medico was waiting.  She looked at our Saluki’s papers, filled in some data on her laptop and came over to see the culprit.  Of course, he was putting on his ‘I am a beautiful, appealling Saluki’ look, and the medico made a huge fuss of him and declared him ‘muy bonito’.  She told my husband  “esta bien – no problema”,  but if our Saluki showed any signs of bad health in the next 21 days to contact them immediately, and then bid him and our Saluki farewell as she left her office for the day, her day’s work done.

So I guess all the authority issues were about ensuring the gentleman remains in good health and has not contracted rabies from our Saluki, and I hope that this will be the end of the matter.

But of course we now have a dog on a local authority list, noted as having bitten a human.  We must be vigilant in ensuring that he doesn’t commit any other misdemeanor, or be seen as dangerous in any way within our village.  We are now worried every time we take our dogs for a walk, in case they are confronted by another village dog.

It’ll be a long while (if ever) before we rest easy over this ….

Nowadays I work online. I still have problems with some aspects of the Spanish language (mainly that most people here talk too fast for me!), so getting a job in this area, which is 99.9% all Spanish speaking is difficult, if not impossible.

My online work is progressing slowly. It now helps to pay the bills and provide some badly needed ‘extras’, but, as the ‘products’ I sell are very much whim based, getting those sales involves much hard work and many hours online. As I am a bit of a pc addict, those factors are not a problen (apart from severe lack of sleep…). However, one factor which is a major hindrance to getting the job done is the Spanish electricity System.

Generally, Spanish power cables are not placed underground. Instead they are looped from the sub station to the nearest house, and then run from house to house, just below roof level. The cables cross streets and wind their way through our village in a rather haphazard fashion, which apears to be based more on who had their electricity installed first, second, and so on, than any more structured system. The cables also hang down fairly loosely. This means that the cables sway in the wind…

March and April in this region are the months of tormentas (storms – a very appropriate name I think) and high winds. When the wind reaches gale force (a frequent occurrence), the cables swing so badly that electricity to our house ebbs and flows. Sometimes something comes unattached at a vital point …

Doesn\'t appear he can help much either ...

(Don’t think he can really help much here …)

Today, I logged onto my pc to get some work done …. only to be forcefully logged off by a power cut a few minutes later. The same thing happened at least 6 or 7 times (I lost count…). The power cuts were between ten and thirty minutes long, and each time the electricity came back on and I switched on my pc, it had to do a system check. And that takes a long time…

I have given up at the moment on getting any work done and have logged in here instead. You never know, I may even get this entry finished before another power cut ……