February 1, 2012 § 24 Comments
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.
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.
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.
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