I received a request from a Podenco adopter living in the Edinburgh area who wanted to meet up with other podenco people to share knowledge, experiences etc. Pam Mcleod of Podencos in Need Scotland got in touch with me to tell me about the Dog Play School in the area. Here's the story of how it came about.
'2 years ago I spent the day with 500 dogs in the perrera Tierra Blanca on Tenerife, and so the dream was born. I met Pacita, who, at 11 years old, had been found, heavily pregnant, caught and brought into the perrera, only to deliver 9 pups the following day, all but 2 of whom died to parvo virus. Pacita was still distraught at losing her pups and my heart broke for her. I met Pasha and Nico as well as many nameless hounds and fell in love with them all.
The next month was spent on a vertical learning curve about the practicalities and logistics of rescuing a dog from another country, and getting together the funds to fly Pacita from Tenerife to Edinburgh. Flying Fleeces was born to help raise funds and, after we got her home in February, PINS was born and, with it, the mission to make Scotland, Podenco-Central.
In PINS' first 18 months, we have rescued 68 dogs, most of them homed, some of them fostered. The majority of our dogs have ended up in central Scotland, though we do have a significant pod population in the north of Scotland too.
Those lucky enough to have landed themselves a family within easy travelling distance of West Calder, have become part of the Pod - play Gang. We're a bunch of dedicated podenco owners and fosterers who meet up every Thursday at The Freedom Field, around 2 acres securely fenced in the countryside, where they can get off lead, run , play, chase one another, hunt for mice in the long grass and even play on the trampoline. A far cry from the life they once knew.
Nothing is so heartwarming as seeing the joy in the faces of these dogs when they run into the field for a dose of fun, some very obviously remember one another, obviously from the week before, but some, we are sure, remember one another from the days before when they shared a pen in the perrera or spent a couple of weeks together at the TRACES kennels waiting for their transport on the Happy Van.
Some do their own thing, they find an interesting corner and dig or watch intently at the base of the fence where the mice live, others have zoomies, bitey face and any number of other games with their pod friends and their siblings. It is lovely to see the friendships develop. Of course, the humans also benefit from making new friends, sharing experiences and advice and seeing their beloved pooches slowly change from the damaged, withdrawn dogs that arrived with them, to happy confident creatures who take such joy from the simple things that most dogs, born in the UK, take for granted as part of the life of a beloved pet.
To all those who think podencos don't make good pets, think again. They are often not easy, they may have issues that need to be worked through with patience and love, but what they give back is all that love magnified a hundredfold.
The Thursday Freedom Field isn't just for PINS pods, we welcome other rescue podencos and sighthounds. We regularly have upwards of 30 dogs in attendance, and some aren't sighthounds, being the adopted siblings of our pods and with proper introductions we find these ex hunting dogs happily share play with breeds as diverse as a Bedlington Terrier, a Spaniel and a Mastin cross.
Just get in touch if you'd like to come along. You can also book direct with The Dog Play Centre for your own use.