Day of the Galgo | Dia del Galgo 2020
Today the hunting season in Spain ends, and thousands of galgos face abandonment, torture and death, because they are no longer “useful”. Be their voice!
This is just an old-fashioned love story… Odin (galgo cross) and Maña (podenco) have been together almost all their lives. They have been loved and they love each other very dearly. But things have not always run smooth for them. At the age of eleven they lost their home and almost everything they held dear when their owner died, and they found themselves in the care of Galgos del Sol (GdS) in Murcia in southern Spain. At least they still had each other, and that must have been a solace.
It’s always harder to home aging dogs. Odin and Maña joined Galgos del Sol’s “Retirement, Sickly and Crazies” gang. What’s that? As Tina Solera of GdS said “The saddest part of rescue for me is when a dog is going to die in the center. Basically dogs come to our home that are at risk of dying in the kennels. The chances of (Maña and Odin) getting a new home together are slim so they are living with us under the Retirement qualification” But Galgos del Sol never gave up hope that Odin and Maña would be homed and moreover, be homed together.
Pause a moment… Anyone who thinks this story is going to have a sad ending has never fallen under the spell of a senior sighthound or experienced their powerful charms.
Odin and Maña became firm favourites with the volunteers who come from all over the world to help at Galgos del Sol. Word about them spread, and the pair developed a huge fan club on Facebook and Twitter. Among their followers was the wonderful Carmel of Greys Eleven Plus, which helps older greyhounds who find themselves homeless.
Let Carmel take up the story from here. She writes “I am thrilled and honoured to be allowed to offer Maña and Odin a place here at Greys Eleven Plus. Their story touched me deeply when they first came to GdS – this next and last step in their journey through life will be a happy one. I will keep everyone updated on their progress.”
So they all lived happily after. Odin and Maña travelled all the way from Spain to Norfolk in September. They are now living happily with Carmel and the other senior sighthounds to whom she has offered a sanctuary and a last, loving home. And they trying to bring service up to Spanish standards (Odin grumbles that breakfast is always late even before the clocks went back and Maña is still trying to share Carmel’s bed instead of the sofa). And because they are now just up the road from me (well, a Norfolk country mile or two), we got together and took some pictures.
Royalty returned to The Royal Station at Wolferton when a troupe of elegant greyhounds arrived there for a photoshoot a few weeks back. The railway station at Wolferton was used by the royal family and their guests en route to Sandringham right up till the late 1960s. The trains and the tracks are gone now, but the station is perfectly restored as it would have been in the days when Queen Victoria came visiting, or when her son, Edward VII, and Tsar Nicholas were caught travelling without tickets.
Greyhounds too have longstanding royal connections. Tutankhamun and Cleopatra VII were some of the earliest royals known to have owned greyhounds. The breed was popular with the British royals throughout the Middle Ages and commoners were at one time banned from owning greyhounds, following a ruling by King Canute. Perhaps the most famous royal greyhound is the stunning black greyhound girl Eos, brought to England by Prince Albert on his marriage to Queen Victoria, beautifully painted by Landseer as a surprise Christmas present for Prince Albert from the Queen in 1841 and again with their daughter Princess Victoria in the same year.
When the Norfolk-based greyhound rescue, Kerry Greyhounds UK asked me to do some photographs of the hounds that they have available for rehoming, the Royal Station at Wolferton seemed the perfect spot to photograph this most regal breed. My greyhound models travelled from all across Norfolk, some with their foster carers and some with Pete, who drove the Kerry Greyhounds transporter halfway across Norfolk and even further south to bring some of the greyhounds currently waiting in rescue kennels to the photoshoot.
The hounds all behaved perfectly, unfazed when the dogs from the house across the tracks came to tell them off for invading their territory. And none of the hounds seemed to notice the cat strolling nonchalantly on the opposite platform; perhaps they were too distracted with all the studio lights and the treats on offer – or perhaps they should have gone to Spec Savers… They all bore the waiting about and the wardrobe changes with good grace. And all slept very soundly when they got back to their beds after a long day’s work.
I am so grateful to Richard Brown, owner of the Royal Station at Wolferton, for allowing us to use the grounds of his home for this shoot. The restoration work he has done at the station is a true labour of love and a testament to his perfectionism, as well as an important contribution to the preservation of our national heritage.
Phylly Clarke of Greytcoats kindly loaned some of her beautiful hand-tailored Harris tweeds for the shoot. Greyhounds come in a surprising variety of sizes and shapes, and for luxury fitted coats like these you really do need the made-to-measure services of an expert like Phylly. I’m afraid those of us in charge of wardrobe on the day were not always very good at matching dog sizes to coats so apologies to the tiny greyhounds who found themselves modelling extra-large coats (poor Ruby!).
Bronwen Catton, Pete and all the volunteers from Kerry Greyhound UK got the hounds to the shoot, ensured they were all looking gorgeous and got them safely home again. I’m grateful to them all for giving up an afternoon for this little project.
And I did the photographs with the help of my lovely husband and expert dog whisperer, Nick.
What you’d like to see now is some of the greyhounds, yes? Sweet-natured Ben has already been homed. Lovely Lily is reserved for a home. But still available for adoption are: gorgeous leggy Jenny (a canine supermodel if ever I saw one); sweet, shy Ruby who was so touchingly brave; stunningly handsome Magee (the George Clooney of the greyhound word); dear little Ivy (who had sight-saving surgery paid for by Kerry Greyhounds and is now ready for her forever home); confident charmer Blue; dashing Denzel; and Barney (Rubble). You can see more about each of them on the Kerry Greyhounds website.
As the hunting season in Spain ends, please spare a prayer for the poor galgos who will be abandoned, disposed of, or killed because they are no longer wanted.
My beautiful hounds Jasmine and Lindy and my foster lurcher Fawn are joining hounds all over the world today in showing solidarity with their Spanish cousins, and hoping that some unwanted galgos at least will find their way to rescues and to a kinder future.
Just sneaking in under the wire, here are our Boho Babes of the Month for July! Greyhounds Oscar and Pearl are two oldies seeking a home together for a quiet and easy-going retirement. Two score years between them, their ambition is to keep their teeth and show arthritis a clean pair of heels. If you were expecting them to be a doddery old pair, you’d be in for a surprise. Oldies still know how to rock and roll.
They have been together through thick and thin and want to keep it that way, so they are looking for a home together. If you think you could be the right home for these lovely greyhounds, contact Celia Cross Greyhound Trust.
ABOUT: Boho Babes of the Month is a joint project between Madaboutgreys Photography and Doggy Boho. Working with various sighthound rescues, we aim to highlight the case for overlooked and special hounds waiting in rescue for their forever homes.
PS If you’re after pretty, Oscar and Pearl say they can do pretty too…
Just a few weeks ago, life was looking very different for Winnie. Found abandoned in Yorkshire, she had been taken to the local dog pound, no-one had come to claim her, her time was up and she was due to be put to sleep. Thank goodness a kind-hearted “pound-puller” had heard about her case, lined up a dog rescue willing to take Winnie and brought her out to safety in the nick of time. So it was that Winnie came under the wing of Lurcher SOS and into foster care with me. Winnie is a lovely calm, gentle girl with a beautiful nature who is so ready to give her heart and soul to the person who becomes her owner.
Alas she did not look very beautiful though. A big black and tan lurcher with a lot of saluki in her breeding, her long feathered coat was bedraggled, matted and filthy, after months of living rough. A quick brushing brought up a snowstorm of dandruff from her greasy coat. And I didn’t want to brush her too much because every single rib was sticking out and I was scared of hurting her. She had a voracious appetite and ate just about everything she was given. And she was so clearly grateful for every little bit of care and attention I gave her.
Let’s not dwell too much on those days when Winnie was at rock bottom. A couple of weeks later, she had put of plenty of weight and condition, and was looking and feeling much better. But her coat was still a bedraggled, matted mess and she was not going to win any beauty competitions in that state. Enter the lovely Ellis Kemp of Pawfect Companions, a professional dog groomer in Sunbury who agreed to give Winnie the makeover she badly needed. Ellis said Winnie is probably one of the best-behaved clients she has ever had. Good as gold while she was showered and clearly very happy indeed to be cleaner, Winnie careered around the place, bouncing and play-bowing, before stepping onto the grooming table for what proved to be a very long session indeed. Checking out the full extent of the problem, Ellis confirmed that Winnie’s ears in particular were extremely heavily matted and must be causing her great discomfort, her paws were full of mats too and there was so much fur under her pads that she must have had great difficulty getting traction on hard floors and surfaces. All that was about to change. I was so touched by the gentleness and patience with which Ellis tackled all those months and years of neglect, carefully trying to loosen and untangle the mats that clung to Winnie’s poor ears, tidying up her pads and sorting her overgrown nails. After nearly two hours, Winnie emerged looking like the princess she was always meant to be.
When we got back, she came and put her head on my knee and leaned hard against my leg – that’s Winnie’s way of saying “thank you”. No “before” photographs, because no princess wants to be seen looking less than perfect in public. But here is her studio portrait from the little photoshoot I did for her, celebrating her “after” condition. And the best news of all? Winnie is now adopted and has found a forever home that is perfect for her, with two lovely saluki lurcher sisters to play with.
Winnie was rescued by Lurcher SOS
She was groomed by Ellis Kemp of Pawfect Companions
And photographed by Madaboutgreys Photography
Goodbye, little foster dog. I’m wiping off the snot graffiti and my windows are staying clean. I’m looking forward to stress-free dog walks. No one is going to chew my bamboos and throw up the results on the hall carpet. I won’t be woken by your footsteps thundering on the stairs and your little face at the side of the bed, wishing me good morning. I’m not really going to miss you at all. FOOTNOTE Susie, rescued and adopted through Lurcher SOS Lurcher & Sighthound Rescue – she’s been with me for over three months now and I’ve grown accustomed to her face. Today she leaves for her forever home, and I’ll be planning to take another dog on foster as soon as I’m able. Fostering, it breaks your heart but it saves lives. Which is more important?