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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Hard times..

To quote my all time favourite band Paramore:

”Hard times
Gonna make you wonder why you even try
Hard times
Gonna take you down and laugh when you cry
These lives
And I still don’t know how I even survive
Hard times”
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Two days ago we found my dog Hayley dead in the livingroom. We obviously kept in the back of our heads that she was an old dog, and that she may not have long to live, a few years tops, but finding her was unexpected nonetheless. She had been a little bit more quiet than usually, for which we made an appointment at the vet, because we were suspecting worms, but nothing serious otherwise. We kept a close eye on her during the weekend, and she seemed okay. We brought her to the vet anyway to get an autopsy done on her, because it was so unexpected, and well.. She died of cancer. Hemangiosarcoma to be exact, which is a very aggressive form of cancer of the spleen and liver. She developed the tumor in the spleen first, which metastasized to the liver, and the tumor ended up leaking, and rupturing. That caused her to bleed to death within seconds. I guess I can find some peace in the fact that she didn’t suffer.. Cancer isn’t exactly an unknown enemy in my family. A good majority of my family members have suffered from it, and some of them died including my mom. I also lost another dog to cancer as well, so hearing Hayley had cancer as well was a bitter pill to swallow.

I’ve had Hayley for a good 8 years, I got her when I was 15, and she was a young adult dog at that point. She was a surprise, given to my by my late mother, because she thought it’d be good for me to have a companion, since I had been struggling with severe depression for a good couple of years at that point. Hayles and I bonded quickly, and soon after we were inseparable. Ever since I was a child and throughout my teenage years, I’ve been dealing with lots of anxiety on top of my depression. Hayley kind of pulled me out of my shell, and pushed my boundaries. However, she also sensed and warned whenever I was blacking out and suicidal. I guess you could say that she was my therapy dog, my crutch. She’s been with me through the roughest times of my life. The move to Denmark, the loss of my mom while adjusting to life in a new country, which gets lonely at times, and a lot of other times as well.

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The morning after she arrived back in 2009

I don’t feel entirely like myself at the moment, which I guess isn’t so weird after spending so many years with her by my side. A lot of people would say that it’s an awful lot of tears to shed over the loss of a dog, but she was so much more than ”just a dog” to me. I don’t own much, I don’t have a lot to my name, but my dogs are one of the things I’m proudest of. Dogs have always been a huge part of my life, I grew up around a big pack of dogs, and Hayley being my first own dog meant a lot to me. It still does. What made her even more special was the fact that she was an Ibizan Hound, which has been my favourite breed for over a decade. It’s weird, sitting here, writing this, without her interrupting me for a hug, which is what she always used to do whenever I was writing.

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Hiking back in 2011, she loved hiking and being out in nature so much

I can’t imagine myself being without an Ibizan Hound for long though. I haven’t been without one for over a decade, and I miss their goofy demeanor. And I’m not the only one. Falera, my Spanish greyhound, misses Hayley terribly as well. Fallie is about as playful as dogs get, and starts throwing her toys around as soon as she gets the chance, but not now. She looks around first, takes her toy, walks around with it and puts it back down, only to sigh and sleep afterwards. She misses her sister, I can tell. I’m spoiling her a bit extra these coming days. Poor thing doesn’t understand it at all.. If only they could understand the words we say to them..

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If there’s such a thing as an afterlife, I hope she’s out there, somewhere, looking down on us.. And maybe one day, we’ll meet again

Sorry for the depressing post this time guys.. Hopefully the next one will be a little bit more positive!

* Nen