World Galgo Day: One of the most exploited breeds around

When I was 17, I adopted my first Galgo. I named her Falera.The breed always fascinated me and everyone who has or works with them, knows that it is a breed with a lot of pain behind them. I had known quite some people who had adopted a couple and they always went around, promoting them, telling people to adopt them because they are just that great. At the time I was working at an animal shelter who happened to have a collaboration going on with a foundation who rescue abandoned and abused Greyhounds and Galgos. I was very well aware that I couldn’t adopt just any dog I happened to like and the adoption of Falera was unexpected, but so welcome.

At the shelter, she was this quiet, timid but sweet little pup, but as soon as I took her home, she changed. She was excited, but scared of everything that would move above her. I remember taking her out for a walk in town, long after I adopted her alongside my other dog Hayley, and she completely broke down, howling and screaming, so I took her back home. Clearly she has not been socialized a lot in her early stages of development and it still shows till this day. Not only that, but she was difficult to deal with when I just got her. She and I struggled a lot with understanding each other, also because my other dog was so easy, but I soon realized that dogs are individuals and should never be treated with a “one size fits all” solution. So I spent weeks, if not months studying her. Why is she the way she is? Why does she want me to be close, but want me to leave at the same time? I observed not only that, but also the scars and traces on her body. She has this long scar running down her neck, like a cutting wound. We suspected that it could be a scar of where they cut her microchip out, since that isn’t exactly uncommon practice in Spain. Not just that, but she had her dewclaws cut off, poorly. There are still stumps left, one of which grows a very weird nail out of it and falls off again over time. But she also has scars on her hind feet, the big pads are half gone and has weird scarring on her hocks as well. I think it’s burned, either by a hot object or acid perhaps. She’s not suffering, it only rubs raw whenever it freezes a lot.

These findings made me wonder how they could do that to such a young dog. She was about a year old when I took her home and she isn’t even anywhere near as traumatized as some other pups I have seen. But then it became clear to me that this isn’t at all an uncommon thing among Galgos from Spain. Retired hunting dogs have often suffered horribly and the ones ending up in shelters are the lucky ones, because they’re still here.. Lucky may not even be a fair way to describe it, because I have seen dogs that suffered so much to the point of them having to be put down due to all the mental trauma.

The dogs are often disposed of after the hunting season, all based on how well they performed during that season. A lot of Galgos end up hanged after the season, since they are now deemed useless and it costs money to feed them in the off season, so culling their hunting dogs is the cheaper option. If the dog did well, they hang them higher up in the tree, so it’s a quicker death. If they did bad, they end up being hanged lower, sometimes to the point where their tippytoes can still reach and they end up hanging themselves just by the pure exhaustion of not being able to stand on their feet anymore. But this is just one way they sometimes dispose of dogs. Some end up being thrown down into wells, lit on fire, having their limbs broken and abandoned out in the wilderness amongst other things.

Some hunters do the more morally correct thing and surrender their retired hunting dogs to a shelter, but this also is a problem. Shelters often lack the funds and space, so lots of rescue groups take in the dogs and adopt them out to other countries, which is amazing work. Thousands of Galgos get disposed every hunting season and World Galgo Day spreads awareness about this issue. This is something you rarely ever hear about, but it is a big deal.

Galgos are excellent companions and some of the sweetest dogs you will ever meet. They are not for everyone, that is for sure, but you might just change your mind once you get to know them. I may have struggled with understanding mine, but after having taken the time to understand her, I have gained a whole lot of admiration for how resilient dogs are. Their ability to stay kind to humans after they have been treated badly is amazing to me.

If there would even be one of you out there reading this and considering to adopt a dog, consider looking into a Galgo. They need you and you may need them too.

– Naiyee

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My ongoing struggle with the feeling of not being good enough.

The past weeks have been overwhelming to the point of me barely doing what I love to relieve the weight on my shoulders and resulted with me having a migraine for three!!!! days straight. This weekend I decided to my hobbies a priority, those being yoga and writing! Be it journaling or writing on my blog, writing is therapeutic to me in ways I can’t even put into words.

The new semester only started a couple of weeks ago and I am already overwhelmed. With that, the creeping fear of not being good enough popped up again as well. My exams have gone fine so far and ended up scoring pretty okay too, which for me was a confidence booster. But this semester we got introduced to some new subjects. Subjects that I hadn’t touched for a good couple of years. So getting back into them was difficult. My class consists of some incredibly bright people, the type of people that are going to make it very far in life. The more power to them, I wish them all the best! But I can’t help but compare myself to them. Comparison is poison for an insecure mind. I know I shouldn’t, but I do it anyway. I have to keep reminding myself that a lot of them have been dealing with these subjects for a while and that all of these things aren’t completely new to them.. I talked about this with a classmate the other day and she reassured me that I have nothing to be insecure about. She also mentioned how impressive it is that I am taking these very heavy science based courses in my third language after only having lived in Denmark for four-and-a-half years. I hadn’t really looked at it from that perspective and for a moment I did feel pretty good about myself.

But this struggle isn’t exactly new to me. I have always felt that I, in a way, was beneath my peers. I couldn’t really tell you why, but I just do. I compare myself too much to others and I feel like I need validation a little bit too much. My fitness journey (which I will write about some other time) is a perfect example of this. I went from 100+ kilos in 2014 to losing a good 35 kilos in the span of 2 years, convinced that I would finally be happy when my stomach would be flat. Surprise.. It didn’t. Instead I spent 2 years obsessively comparing myself to other women on a similar journey, hoping that I could be like them. Obviously I would never be like them, because I am me and that is okay too. That is just one example though, I have many more, unfortunately.

I really want to start trying to be myself unapologetically. So what if I’m not a straight A student, or the girl with a big booty and stunning abs? I’m not exactly an uninteresting person. I emigrated at 20, I speak three languages and I’m learning a fourth one, I have weird hobbies and I’m working hard towards accomplishing my goals. This however, isn’t too easy to keep reminding myself of, but eventually I’ll get there I hope.

Are any of you guys out there struggling with the same thing, and if so, how do you cope with it?

Any tips would be so much appreciated!

– Naiyee

Here’s to strong women

I grew up being raised by a single mom. My mom had been chronically ill for as long as I can remember and she managed to raise my sister and I all alone. My parents divorced when I was about six years old and it’s all I have ever known. My mom never spoke much about it, except that it happened after my father admitted to having a family with another woman. That woman ended up becoming my stepmother and yet another example of a strong woman in my life. My stepmom has two kids with my dad, my half sister and half brother. My half brother has special needs and it has always baffled me how well my stepmom dealt with all of it by herself. My dad wasn’t around much, so it was always the mother figures in my life picking up the pieces when something broke.

With that being said, I also grew up without much of a father figure in my life. My father first became an active part of my life after my mother passed away, but during my childhood it was always my Opa who showed me what a good father is like. For the longest time, and maybe still, I thought that good father figures were a rare thing to have. Many of my childhood friends had divorced parents with the dads often being absent or a passive part of their lives, only coming and going as it fit their schedule.

But thanks to my Opa and my mother figures I did not miss out on anything. When my mother passed away, someone else crossed my path. The woman I now consider to be my bonus mom and probably the strongest woman I have ever had the privilege of knowing. She is a breast cancer survivor and kept her family afloat when everything seemed to be falling apart. Not only that, but I believe she saved my family from falling apart too. She has had her heart broken many times, but like a phoenix, she rose up from the ashes, stronger than before. A woman I look up to, that’s for sure.

But as time went on, this little girl I’ve known since the moment she grew in my mother’s womb, my best little friend, my partner in crime, my younger sister now too grew into a woman with the heart of a warrior. Despite all the odds stacked up against her, she fought, pulled through and survived. I couldn’t be prouder to be her sister. I love her so much. But it’s not just her, but obviously also my half-sister. She also has had her fair share of hardships to deal with at a very young age and it has made her into a fierce, strong and amazing young woman. I love seeing how well she does, and it saddens me that I don’t get to see her as often as we used to.

I could never forget to write about my grandmother, my Oma here, even though I had not mentioned her earlier. While growing up I saw my mother and Oma fight a lot and I was never really able to understand why. But now that I am older, I do. Oma has a heart of gold and wears it on her sleeve. She is one of the most honest people I have ever known and I try to adopt her honesty, albeit it maybe with a little bit more filter.. 😉

Last year two special women in particular came into my life. My mother and sister in law, both extraordinary women. They’ve both fought their battles and stayed SO kind and strong despite all of it. And I admire and adore them for it. In a world so cruel kinder people are needed. I truly believe that it’s people like them, that make this world a better place to live in. I’d like to be kinder, just like they are.

It’s the influence of these lovely ladies (and those are just a few, I have so many amazing girlfriends as well but it would make this post even loooonger!), that I’m still here today. I couldn’t have gotten this far without their love and support.

Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them!

Do you have strong women in your life?
I’d love to hear more about them!

-Naiyee

”How we need another soul to cling to”

Hello all of you lovely people! Happy 2019! Hope your holidays have been great, with lots of laughter, love and of course ALL THE FOOD!

Main reason I’ve been away for a couple of weeks was because of my exams, all of which I’ve passed! BUT I have also moved! FINALLY!! After I was done with my exams, I decided I wanted me some Finland and took the plane there. Being with my love and his family was lovely and Finnish winter is amazing! It was good. All of it. The Christmas celebrations were lovely, but so was the time we spent just hanging out and playing Cards Against Humanity for hours. The 1,5 week I spent up there went by way too fast and before I knew it, my love and I were back at Helsinki Airport saying our goodbyes, or ”see you soons” as we prefer to call them. ”Goodbye” is permanent. ”See you soon” isn’t. On the plane I had been spending all my time just listening to music and reliving all the lovely memories made.

Lately I have been noticing that leaving my significant other or my family is starting to take a toll on me. I cry myself to sleep for days after I’ve gotten back here in Denmark and I spend days just daydreaming about how lovely it would be if I could just be with them and not here. My days just consist of school, eating, yoga, homework, doggo, repeat.  As if I’m running on autopilot, time flies by, without me really being aware of what time or day it is. And then it hit me.. Am I lonely? I mean, I have all these great people here in Denmark, my school is going fine and well, my job is alright too.. So why is it then that I feel alone all the time, despite having a good life here?

I’ve always said that my home is with the people that I love and that still rings true. When I moved to Denmark because of love, my home was here. I had him and his family here and a family back in the Netherlands to which I could ALWAYS return to. But now I have a home in the Netherlands AND a home in Finland, neither of which are close by.

Today, while I was on the bus on my way home, an elderly woman decided to sit next to me, despite there still being seats available for the elderly (they are a lot lower and less risky to fall out of). My initial response was annoyance. She could have chosen ANY seat available there, and she decides to sit next to me. Oh well, just be on your phone Naiyee, headphones loud and ignore the lady. Then I noticed over the tunes of Paramore playing, that she started talking to me. I took my headphones off and asked if she could repeat what she said, and she said something along the lines of how impressive it was that I could type so fast on my phone, that her hands don’t work so well anymore and how her hands don’t like the cold very much. I said that I didn’t even notice how fast I was typing and that the cold really isn’t that nice for anyone, and then the woman got off the bus. Then I realised that she might be feeling the same way I do. Lonely, just wanting meaningful contact with another soul. Immediately after that interaction I felt a sense of guilt. Guilt about getting annoyed at an old lady, just wanting to have some contact, because I can relate to it. A lot.

Then I remembered a conversation I had with my mother years ago. I have always been a socially awkward kid. I prefer to keep to myself in situations with strangers and always looked down when walking. My mom never liked that much. She then said to me:

”Why don’t you look up and see the world and the people around you? Everybody is always so preoccupied with their own stuff, but there are many lonely people out there. Look around you, greet someone or smile at them. It might be meaningless to you, you may have forgotten about it five minutes later, but to them it could make their whole day. Just because you acknowledged their presence.”

That was a life lesson I have never forgotten and honestly, I’ve been terrible at applying it to my own life.

So, I don’t really do new years resolutions, but I figured that I, from today on, am going to be kinder to strangers. The world is already cruel enough as it is and smiling at or greeting another person won’t hurt anyone. In my opinion everyone should try it.

Do you greet or talk to strangers? Why or why not?

– Naiyee

The Motherless Daughters Club: Tis the season?

Well well, it has been a while.. I have to admit that with this busy exam period going on, I haven’t had much time to think about the Christmas season, but last night it just hit me. Christmas is right around the corner! Not being able to see my mother around this time of the year is tough.

Growing up we celebrated Christmas when my parents were still together, but my mom became a Jehovah’s Witness in my early teens, so after that I’d often go to my grandparents to celebrate Christmas there and it wasn’t really until I moved to Denmark that I actually started celebrating this time of the year.

But despite the fact that my mom didn’t really celebrate Christmas anymore in the last years of her life, I can’t help but miss her a little bit extra during this time. I see a lot of my peers going shopping for presents with their moms, and as happy as I am for them, I can’t help but hurt inside when I see it. Thoughts like ”Why can’t I do that?” or ”They don’t know how lucky they are” go through my head. Because I really do wonder sometimes if they realise how lucky they are. Something as simple as just calling mom to tell her how her day was or to ask her if she’s 100% sure if she wouldn’t like a tiny little Christmas present anyway is something I’d do anything for to experience one more time. But it will never be. And that hurts. The silence is loud. I want to get that phone call on NYE to wish me a happy new year, and damnit, why can’t I have that phone call?

Luckily for me, I have enough things to keep me preoccupied for now with work and exams. I’ll be spending Christmas and New Years with my Finnish family, so hopefully I won’t be feeling too blue, but I know not everyone who is part of this club is that lucky.

Tis the season to be with family and make memories for most. But for me, my sister and everyone else who lost their mom, tis the grim reminder that we’ll never make those memories again.

People often say that this loss loses its sharp edges and that you learn to live with the pain, but why does it for me feel as if the pain and burden only gets worse over the years? Because I still can’t talk about her without wanting to curl up and cry. She was still supposed to be here, she was supposed to see me get married and have kids. But she will never. And that’s unfair. It shouldn’t be like this.

To my fellow motherless daughters out there,

Stay strong during this time of the year. I’m thinking of each and every one of you out there. We got this. We can get through it.

Lots of love,

Naiyee

Exam stress: Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

Oh my, I have not been able to write anywhere near as much as I would have liked to lately. Writing is very therapeutic to me and it just feels good to get my thoughts out. Reason for my lack of time for basically everything is because I have exams coming up this month and I don’t feel anywhere near ready.

Main problem being my fear of failing. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember and it exceeds your average nervousness when exams are starting. With me it can get so bad that I barely eat or sleep. It is annoying to say the least. I have exams in Drama, Biology and Mathematics and math in particular is taking up more time than I’d like it to. You see, we get about a month off to read up on things to get ready, but since 75% of our exams have been planned in the first week of said month, it basically means that I’ve been spending the past 2,5 weeks reading and writing summaries, since I won’t have time for it otherwise. Throw the anniversary of my mom’s death in the mix and well.. Let’s just say that I am EXHAUSTED.

Taking up math again after years of not having had it was a humbling experience to say the least, but I would also have to say that it really forced me to work hard on my weaknesses, so for that I’m grateful. But I have to admit that Biology and Drama had to take a backseat because of all this. Not proud of it, but I guess I can afford it, considering these are subjects I naturally have no problems with, whereas with math I do. Tomorrow I have written math, which I don’t think I’ll have a problem with, but oral math I am not excited about. Nor the exam in oral Biology… Nor the exam in Drama. I suck at oral exams, I absolutely hate them when they’re not languages. I perform better in my written exams and well.. Bad grades in oral exams don’t help my average very much. I guess it is just something I got to get over.

It does make me wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew though. But I guess only time can tell that one. Right now I’m just studying my butt off, dreaming of Christmas and spending time with loved ones.

Do you get stressed when exams roll around or not, and if not,  how do you manage not to get anxious about them?

Any tips are welcome!

– Naiyee

The Motherless Daughters Club: Would she be proud of me?

Today marks the fourth year since my mom passed away and it is tough.. Getting through the night and day without breaking down is difficult. On days like these I try to practise self care. I take a day off from work or school to allow myself to just be and cry if I need to.

During these four years without her, I often wonder how she would feel about the decisions that I make. Not having her around to ask for advice is still something I’m getting used to, even after four years. My life has changed a lot in this time span in so many different ways. But the one question that keeps me up some nights is:

”Would she be proud of me?”

I’m not necessarily a validation seeking person, not at all, but the opinion of my mother always meant a lot to me, which makes sense I guess.. Having lost my mom at a young age, the age where you may not be considered fully adult yet and not having to make any serious adult decisions, it is hard to imagine what type of advice she would give in certain situations. Not only that, but also what her stance and opinions would be during difficult times.

Everyone around me always tell how she would be proud and even though those words mean a lot, they don’t give me a lot of comfort, because they aren’t their opinions I need to hear in times like those. That being said, I am extremely grateful for everyone offering some kind of support and/or understanding. It is nice knowing that there are people out there who care. But I feel as if my mother’s words and advice are the only ones that can help me get through it, but she’s gone..

The best way of describing this feeling is like going all the way back to when I was small and mom and I would go shopping. When you’re small, these stores are HUGE! Imagine that and then losing your mom in that big store. But instead of having that uncomfortable and scary feeling slip away and feeling relieved when you find her again, she is gone. Because that’s what it feels like. I feel all alone in this great big world, knowing my mom won’t be there to find her way back to me.

I had to start my adult life without her, having to make a lot of really tough decisions without her. And even though in the back of my head I know that she would be proud, I can’t help but wonder.. I hope she would be. I would just love to hear her say it one more time.

Luckily for me, not all hope is completely gone. I have a great support system of family and friends who are there to pick me up when I fall and for that I am thankful. Without them I wouldn’t have made it through.

And to any of you out there who have lost their mother,

I’m proud of you for sticking through the hard times. You’re a badass and you deserve all the good things in the world. You got this, you always have and you always will.

-Naiyee