A long time ago, back in the 1960/70s, way before Spain went mad building huge concrete monstrosities alongside the beach road to places like Benalmadena, Torremolinos, Tossa del Mar, Estepona, my mother used to winter there rather than survive in the damp atmostphere of Northwest England. I always imagined these places as separate holiday towns along the Spanish coast.
I was staggered to find that now they are all part of Malaga – province of Malaga to be exact.
The final refuge on our current trip to Spain was the rescue association of 112carlotagalgos, in Benalmadena. As this was also a ‘holiday’ trip, I found a great hotel 5 minutes from the beach and not far from the shelter, with a swimming pool and huge self-service breakfast buffet! Eat a big breakfast and we’re set up for the day!
As with the other refuges in Valladolid and Seville, we carried donations of bedding, food and dog coats for the shelter, which were gratefully received. 112carlotagalgos is a very small association which does wonderful work rehabilitating traumatised galgos and podencos ready for rehoming. Because it is small, the family spend time with the dogs, socialising them, gaining their trust in children, teenagers and men.
One of the things we miss when we do manage to get away on holiday (once a year!) is walking dogs, so we were really pleased to be able to muck in ‘literally’ every morning and evening with cleaning kennels, feeding, watering and especially dog walking, as all the dogs are walked twice a day. Telma Shaw of GRIN popped for a couple of hours - she was taking some galgos and podencos back to the US for rehoming - although not from this refuge.
I’ve supported Charl del Rio since she first started rescuing galgos and podencos, because of the special empathy she has with the animals she rescues, and those of you who have purchased a copy of my book will recognise her name as the author of the chapter on Owning a Galgo and also the Ode – Senor Galguero.
All too soon our trip reached its final stages and the drive back to France via a night stop north of Madrid. We didn’t plan that very well – hitting Madrid at 4.30 in the Friday afternoon rush hour! But Gertie Carmin satnav lead us through it all!
(Bathing podencos!) It was great to get back to our Spanish hounds, who had been staying with friends whilst we were visiting their country of birth – plus our brave cat – she knows not to venture into the rear courtyard when the hounds are loose! – and my two horses.
We came away from Spain very much richer with having renewed friendships and forged new friendships, and very humbled by the incredible work done by the volunteers at all the refuges. I met galgueros, watched the love their galgos gave them – and felt sickened knowing that the dogs would be disposed of when they were no longer able to take part in the hunt. I still have nightmares about the purposely starved horses in one yard – the owner won’t sell them cheaply, he’d rather starve them to death. I’m working on that, never fear!
Along with Charl del Rio, a young Belgian Shepherd was rescued – victim of a marital breakdown where neither party was feeding the dog – she was almost too weak to stand when released from her prison. Happily now on the road to recovery – if you would like to donate to the 500+ euro vet bill for her and apply to adopt her, please paypal email@example.com – use the email address for adoption request too. Reference Bonnie.
We were no sooner back home in France than the Province of Malaga was hit by torrential rain, reaching as far up as Seville and Murcia. Roads were closed, homes were devastated by mud slides – Pepis Refuge was one shelter to suffer from the mud. Luckily all the dogs are ok.
Spain is a country of contrasts – weather, attitudes, cultures – and as always I come back the richer in knowledge and understanding of how very difficult it is to resolve the plight of the galgos, podencos and other hunting dogs.
Next year - Murcia!
Below are a selection of photos - Podencos Apolo, Sara and Scarlet are looking for forever homes, as are the galgos on the website, including white beauty Elsa; three ladies - Telma, Charl and me and Belgian Shepherd Bonita when first rescued