It has been nearly 2 years since we adopted Alfiler. And it was about a year earlier when we were adopting Pyppee that we found out about the plight of the galgo. When Alfie came from Spain, I really hated Spain as a country and thought that I would never visit, as to not put my money into the economy of a country that abused animals so badly.
But that was really a naive way to think.
When Telma asked if I'd be interested in going to Spain with her, Scott immediately said that I should go and use it as a celebration of my upcoming 50th birthday. It seemed like an opportunity not to miss, and I cannot tell you how glad I am that I went.
To project your disdain for a country's animal abuse on the entire country doesn't make sense. I have every right to hate those that abuse animals and those that turn their heads. But what you find among that rabble is some of the finest human beings you will ever encounter.
To be an animal rescuer in a country with traditions that are steeped in abuse to animals is extraordinary. These volunteers step out of what is accepted as the norm and dedicate themselves to selflessly helping animals that are considered garbage by their fellow countrymen. They put themselves out there to speak out, to change common thoughts, to raise money and to do what is right for those that cannot help themselves. To be blunt....that takes balls.
What I saw time and time again with these wonderful animal lovers was how much each and everyone of them cared for the animals they were caring for. They care for their rescued as much as they care for their own pets. The first thing they would ask when seeing Telma was updates on how certain dogs that have come to the US were doing in their homes. They show you photos on their phones of what the dogs looked like when they were found and progress photos of how they healed. Not a meal went by that didn't result in phones coming out to show off dogs.
And what was literally gut wrenching was watching the volunteers that love these dogs have their last moments, last words, last cuddles with the dogs before we loaded them up to bring them home with us. It is what they have worked so hard for, yet what they dread at the same time, knowing they will probably never seen them again in person. But what the volunteers know is that the dogs are going to a better life, and that ultimately one dog leaving opens up another space for another dog to be rescued. And that is the reality. There is an absolute endless supply of animals. The galgos and podencos stand a chance of getting out of there, and perhaps some of the mastins too, but the mixed breeds will probably not be so lucky.
And sadly the rescues are stretched to their limits. The ones that are smart know their limits and operate within them to best serve their rescued. Those that push those limits end up putting the animals in situations where they cannot care for them very well. But if you love animals, that has to be a tough pill to swallow....putting a limit on how many and who you can help.
I know that with the wonderful addition of Lleo to our family, we are at our limit of dogs. But that doesn't mean our work helping is over. And if you cannot or wish not to adopt, but want to help, there is plenty you can do.
First and foremost is you can be a voice for these dogs. Share their stories and pleas for help on your facebook page.
And what these rescues need is funds. Funds for simple things like food, year round flea care, beds, etc. And they need funds to be pledged on a regular (monthly) basis where possible. And when needed, items donated and purchased for auctions.
I feel such a connection to these rescues, their volunteers and the animals. Thank you so much for sharing my journey, I have a sneaky suspicion that there will be more dog journeys to come. And thank you to each and every one of the wonderful volunteers I met on my trip. Simply put, I am in awe of you.
And to my traveling partner Telma… I am truly grateful.