Hounding Misery

February 1, 2012 § 24 Comments

Part 1 / The Misfortune of being a Spanish Greyhound

Contrary to what one would expect, considering these animals’ elegance, noble character and exemplary behavior, for some unfortunate reason, being a greyhound in Spain is nowadays an insurmountable obstacle on the road to happiness.

Their fate could be compared to that of dolphins in Japan, whales from the Faroe islands or seals in some of the colder regions of our planet. Indeed, should you be unlucky enough to be born a greyhound in Spain, this means – in a very high percentage of cases – that your presence and wellbeing, as well as your basic survival needs, depend completely on the level of humanity of the person who has bought or adopted you, which often means a very erratic and capricious fate. Unfortunately for these animals, said level of humanity is alarmingly low amongst the owners involved.

Gitano

Through one of life’s coincidences, my steps have taken me to sharing living space with a special being that shows, in his every move, the consequences of what has been an obviously prolonged case of  overall mistreatment.

His present and recently-given name is Gitano (Gypsy in Spanish), while his original name, just like so many other details that make up his truth, is unknown.

He was found on an industrial estate in Madrid, about a month ago, by the managers of the Getafe animal protection service. From there he was taken to their installations, where the long voyage hopefully towards a better life began for him.

Our own first encounter happened a few days ago, almost by accident, during a visit to the centre run by an organization called Hydra. Led by Irina, we walked through the installations where rescued animals are recovered, in which dozens of dogs await the arrival of a new life, defined by a much-coveted permanent adoption.



Traces of the Past

In one of those kennels, curled up and relatively absent, Gitano spent most of his time. His malnourishment was obvious, and various wounds made his extremely skinny body an accurate reflection of the bitter pain he has gone through.

Once back at home, not long after that visit, our minds and hearts came together to tell us that the right thing to do was to take in Gitano, at least for a few days, to give him the warmth he needed under such circumstances. In this way, we reasoned, his recovery would be more steady and comfortable, which would allow him to quickly return and be adopted or trained by the staff at Hydra. It’s been a few days now and, while slow, his recovery is encouragingly noticeable.

His walk, which used to be shaky and unsure, is now more steady and calm. His curiosity now leads him to explore most of the house, reaching places he would barely dare look into in the beginning, when  fear dominated his every move.

Extreme thinness is still his constant companion, since a stomach problem stops him from digesting food normally. In spite of the large amounts he eats, divided into various meals throughout the day, his weight and appearance have varied little, for now.

We guess, by his behaviour patterns, as is often so in such cases, that he could have spent his previous life with a hunter. Luckily, and against all odds, he must have run away from there, unknowingly escaping a slow and surely painful death.

Struggling against the Statistics

The figures state that various tens of thousands of greyhounds are sacrificed in Spain, every year. They reveal that the owners, mainly hunters, end their animals’ lives in savage and atrocious ways.

Without an ounce of mercy, when ignorance leads the owners to decide that they are no longer of any use, wolfhounds are hung from a tree or locked up without food nor water, exposed to the weather and hunger, until they inevitably die. Generally, to the distress and shame of those who do have feelings, their agony goes on for days, while the appalling characters responsible for such treatment remain impassible.

As the days go by, Gitano goes out for a walk a little more bravely. I am not sure if he does indeed feel braver or if he just pretends, as if he understands, in an attempt to successfully carry on despite his heavy baggage of fear.

Sometimes, when it seems he forgets the past, he raises his head and takes on an impeccable, perfect, almost aristocratic expression. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he finds the strength and tries to attempt a run, or takes off for a few steps and looks like he is about to break into play. But weakness takes over and his rapture ends just as soon, as reality brings him quickly back to the present moment and makes him realize that happiness and the joys of play must still wait some time. It’s too soon to attempt anything too exerting, and healing will be, in the best case scenario, a slow, progressive, gradual and rather complicated process.

How to Help

From what I understand, the options before us if we wish to help are varied. One way is to donate, as a one-off contribution or more regularly, to the different organizations that work to rescue abandoned dogs and provide a better life for them. Some are specifically dedicated to Gitano’s kind, such as SOS Galgos and Galgos112, amongst others.

Oh the other hand, there is the option of volunteering in different ways, according to the centre involved.

One of the most valuable ways of helping, in my view, is to adopt one of these dogs, which can be found at any animal protection centre in Spain.

My honest advice is summed up by a sincere search for what is really important. Instead of letting ourselves be attracted by possibilities that do not carry true value, when thinking of acquiring a pet, I recommend visiting first your local animal protection centre. There you will find – as we saw in Getafe – a large amount of dogs of all types and in different conditions, just waiting to give their inexhaustible love in exchange for some time and space.

As anyone who has had direct and sincere contact with dogs will know already, their personality does not depend on their breed nor shape, since each animal is a unique being, genuine and unrepeatable. That is the truth, and all else, like so many things in life, are just blatant delusions around appearances. If you don’t believe me, I invite you to adopt and thus confirm that there is absolute truth in these words.

Read Part 2

___________

Hounding Misery
The Misfortune of being a Spanish Greyhound
Text & Photography Nano Calvo
Translated by Ana Digon

Any reproduction or other use of all or part of this article is expressly prohibited, unless prior permission granted by the author.
Please feel free to post the link in your websites and social pages. Spreading the word is the best way to change injustice.

Should you be interested in publishing this article, please contact me via email. Thanks!

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§ 24 Responses to Hounding Misery

  • I can’t click ‘like’, where is the “horrified” button?! Thank you for bringing awareness to this.

    • Nano Calvo says:

      Hi Gayle! Yes, the topic is not very pleasant, but I had to create the story and tell the world my personal vision. Thanks for reading and writing a comment. You are the first one to do so in this, my new blog in English. Best

  • Jesús says:

    Un articulo muy entrañable que esperemos que conciencie a mucha gente.
    Un saludo.

    • Nano Calvo says:

      Gracias Jesús, me alegra que te haya gustado. Y sí, la versión española ha tenido muy buena acogida y esta otra, gracias al idioma, llegará todavía más lejos. Poco a poco se hace conciencia. Un saludo!

  • Kike Calvo says:

    I like it a lot Nanos. Congratulations and keep up the good work

  • niasunset says:

    First of all Thank you for visiting my blog. I am so glad to meet with you and with your blog. When I visited your blog, and when I read your story, I am impressed so much… “Gitano”… so beautiful and almost I can read everything in his eyes… Nano Calvo, your photographs are so beautiful too… Seems that you let him to talk with his eyes through your camera. Sorry my English language is not very well, I hope I can express my feeling. Blessing and Happiness for you and for Gitano too… with my love, nia

  • RedCat430 says:

    It’s so sad and shocking! You should post something about it on YouTube or Reddit!

    • Nano Calvo says:

      Hi friend! Yes, it is extremely sad. For this reason, I will go on the story and continue it, if all goes well, in order to create a deep reportage about this situation. Hopefully will be published, and everyone will have the chance to read about it. Unfortunately, many interests surround this matter, and Spanish government is not acting as well as they should. Best

  • Thak you very much for all you do for galgos …The galgueros are the shame for the Spain and I hope one day this massacre will stop. I hardly wait to visit the Scooby Medina shelter and help them with volunteering. 🙂 I hope there will be more people like you in Spain and that all people, even galgueros will see one day that what they are doing is not ok. THANK YOU once again. 🙂

    • Nano Calvo says:

      Hi Larisa 🙂 Thanks for appreciating my work, and for helping dogs in need. I hope there are more people like you, that decide to spend their time in helping. Best!

    • Teresa Watkin says:

      I agree and live in hope the torture and murder of these beautiful loving dogs will stop NOW for they are the most persecuted hounds and the galgueros could take them to a refuge not do the terrible things they do, the videos ive seen sickened me and hundreds and thousands like me,if they can do these things to these beauties then they are capable of doing it to there children and families shame on you spain and the hunters beware your day will come when you have wire tight round your neck and you swing,god will punish you!!!!!!!
      The world is beginning to watch your utter cruelty!!!!!!!!!!!WE ARE APPAULED AT WHAT YOU DO!!!!!!!!!

  • Mia says:

    i might just would liKe who here to join my Misery, dog – mine is a German pinscher, loves to write a lot, – yes she actually laughs and she’s happy- and she’s off the leash most of the time as she is so good a girl and comes when I call for her.

    Only she is such a sweetheart, mine is such one who gets a tiny, tiny little bit attention and would could find it

    Sorry about the spelling mistakes… Please let me know, Tina needs a friend 🙂

  • Beautiful photos. Posting Part 1 on Galgo News now, Part 2 in English already there, awaiting Part 3. Do you know the work of Sandra Baas of Asociacion Baas Galgo, she lives in Madrid but is working with a young woman of Seprona in Toledo, which Sandra says is the worst place in Spain to be a galgo. I hope you will sometimes have time to read Galgo News, as there are hundreds of stories, both good and bad, about the majestic galgo. Every life of a galgo saved is a life precious to that galgo and to the people who save it.

    • Nano Calvo says:

      Thanks Beryl! I dont know Sandra, but probably will, some day. Sure, I will read Galgo News, when I have some time, in order to know about the stories you mention. Of course, both good and bad are important. Best

  • val wolf says:

    Thank you for helping to get the word across about the plight of these beautiful dogs. My life has not, and never will be the same since becoming aware of the Galgos a few years ago.

  • Bianca van Veen says:

    I shared the first part on my fb 🙂
    We have to spread the stories of these beautiful animals that don´t deserve to be treated like this (like no other animal).
    I love Galgo´s.. And i know what´s going on in Spain and some other countries.. Worked as a volunteer in a Spanish shelter and the Galgo´s are so nice, sweet and elegant.. oh and i forgot beautiful 🙂
    Thanks for the storie and the beautiful pictures..

    • Nano Calvo says:

      Hi Bianca 🙂 Thanks for sharing the reportage with your contacts.
      Yes, Galgos are great, very kind and sweet, I agree. We are in love with Gitano, and very happy with the decision of adopting him.
      Thanks for your words 😉

  • Tünde Patkó says:

    I linked in your articles on the website of the BAEZA shelter. See here
    http://baezanimales.com/index.php?numrows=10&page=1&lang=en&cathegory=12
    🙂
    Tunde

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