'I am a veterinarian and have always wanted to work with rescue dogs. For years I have wanted to adopt a galgo and after my elderly dog died I had an opportunity to finally offer a home to one. Since I have a lot of rescues as patients I was able to spread the word that I am willing to adopt a galgo who might have physical/emotional problems.
After a few months I got an email from Espanjan Koirat, a rescue organization in Finland adopting dogs from Spain. In that email was a picture of a black and white galga, lying on a concrete floor in her food dish. She was emaciated, full of scars and looked very traumatized. And within an instant I had made the decision, this would be my family member.
It was only after a while that I was able to track down the recent history of my Ishtar.
She had been originally taken to a killing station in Cordoba after having been found abandoned. The kind hearted people from the rescue organization Con Luz Animal had seen her and had already someone to adopt her but another galgo was chosen. So they contacted Protectora shelter in Malaga who in turn contacted Galgos en Familia and Ishtar (then named Corbata) was accepted to the shelter.
So Con Luz Animal picked her up from the pound. She was extremely frightened and tried to bite the people who were handling her. In my knowledge it is very rare for a galgo to bite even when fearful so I can only imagine the past Ishtar has had. They took her from Cordoba to Protectora in Malaga and this is where she was photographed and I was asked if I would be interested in her. Before she was able to fly to Finland she spent a couple of weeks in Galgos en Familia.
As for her life prior to these events…Probably she had been a “better” hunting dog since she hadn’t been abandoned earlier. Along with her I got information about her previous vaccinations and microchip and even the name of her previous owner. So she had been taken care of before abandonment.
The first two months with Ishtar were very hard. For the first week Ishtar tried frantically escape from my apartment, she attempted to bite her way through doors and windows and wouldn’t calm down for one second.
Then she immediately became very attached to me and couldn’t be left alone for even a few minutes without going completely insane trying to follow me through any closed door or other obstacle, and barking non stop. She is the first dog ever to be able to tear off metal bars on the patient cages at our clinic…she has obviously been biting on metal a lot in her life, her teeth are very worn out and many of them will most likely have to be extracted.
She also has multiple old fractures (revealed by x-ray) and occasionally certain movements cause her pain. It is also clear she has been confined in small spaces since she doesn’t even try to avoid stepping into her faeces or urine (she is still not completely house trained but is getting there). She was also very aggressive towards my whippet, attacking her over and over again. Also bit me on few occasions, mostly when guarding a squeaky toy. So for those first weeks I really wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep her.
I didn’t want to give up on her though. I knew that it would be very hard to find another home for her with better opportunities to rehabilitate her. So I worked with her 24/7. Sat in the cage at the clinic or in the back room with her on my days off to get her used to it. Left her there and returned, over and over again, only for a few seconds in the beginning. Did everything I could to put her stress levels down.
And little by little Ishtar started to progress. The change was very slow at first, she was one day able to stay in the back room at work without seeing me for one minute, then two, and slowly the time got longer and longer. She stopped attacking my other dog and became more relaxed. And after one especially heated moment with her when she bit me really hard and I had to physically stop her from attacking, she also seemed to understand that she shouldn’t bite me (fingers crossed on this one!).
As I write this, Ishtar has been with me for three months. She is still very fearful of humans and if she feels threatened or feels someone threatens me she might bite. And at night when she sleeps she often wakes up suddenly and seems disoriented and shows her teeth if a hand approaches her, seems to be some memory from her past. But she is improving every day.
And my biggest joy is seeing her slowly becoming the dog she would have always been without the abuse and neglect. She plays like a puppy, does these little pranks around the house and sighs deeply when she is tucked under covers at night. And when she runs with my whippet in the dog park…I can tell she is happy and in her element.
Ishtar is now 6 years old. I am hoping I can give her at least as many years of happiness as she has had of abuse and neglect. This unique girl deserves it.'
Thank goodness you found her, with your experience to help her. Good luck to you both.