Friday, November 13, 2020

Hasta Luego, Sweet Sara

Sweet Sara

Sara's Story

In May, 2013, I received a call from my local Greyhound Rescue group, Greyhound Friends for Life, asking me if we would be willing to foster a Galga, named Sara, who had been rescued from the streets of a small town near Seville, Spain.  She was left to die -- emaciated, weak and unable to get up or walk. A group of wonderful volunteers rescued, fostered and brought her back to health. They think that she was used as a brood mom.  She had scars all over her body, the worst of which was a "Z" brand carved into her forehead. My friend, Mora, fell in love with Sara from afar, and brought her to the USA, for which we are forever grateful.  

We never know how old the Galgos are, since so many are dumped or left to die, but we think that she was at least 6 1/2 years old.  We wondered how she had endured so much; but after adopting her, we realized what a strong, resilient spirit she had. She was a very proud, strong Galga, whose spirit could not be broken. Here's her rescue and adoption story.  

We fostered Sara for a few days and very quickly and decisively knew that we wanted to adopt her forever.  It has been 7 1/2 years of pure love and joy with beautiful Sara.  

Our hearts are broken, as we had to let her go yesterday, and we will grieve forever. 

The Gift of Sara

Sara was one of the most intelligent, stoic, proud and loving dogs I've ever known.  She was beautiful, inside and out.  Her eyes were sad and soulful. Her fur became bunny soft, once she ate the good, healthy food we provided.  She was the alpha of our pack of five dogs, three Spanish Galgos, a Spanish Podenco and a Greyhound. She was always much more of a people person, preferring people to other dogs. She tolerated the other dogs, but loved all people. She was always a perfect lady and a skilled huntress.  Even just last week, when her health was failing, she caught and killed a rat in the backyard, and was prepared to bring the prize in to me, before my husband caught her and took it to the garbage.  

She loved us, and was especially close to me over the past several months. She always had to know where I was. She visited me in our sun/workout room, and we spent quality time together, she watching me and relaxing on the futon and me doing the elliptical and yoga and sneaking in pets and kisses here and there. Sometimes, we would share a little snack and watch a good show together on the TV.  She loved sneaking past the other dogs to come to the sunroom so that we could be together -- just us.

She loved our bed and sleeping with us.  It was her favorite place.  She and I would stay up late and sleep in together every day. She wouldn't go to bed until I did. In the morning, after Dad got up, she'd take his spot and we'd sleep in. She always had to cuddle, touch or hug. She slept under and stole most of the blankets.  She would tell the other dogs off if they jumped up on the bed, as though she owned it.  She loved to play with stuffed animals and relished her treats.  She could jump two feet straight up in the air when she was happy.  On our mostly sunny days, she loved to bask in the sun for 10-15 minutes each day. She sat in our chairs that dogs would not normally sit in, often taking our chairs when we got up.  She was a force!

Saying, "Goodbye"

Over the past year, she has had labored breathing and some other issues with tumors on her chest and tummy area.  We recently had three emergency surgeries to remove the tumors. They determined that they were cancerous, but not the type that metastasizes.  We also had a cardiologist do a echocardiogram in early September, which revealed fluid around her heart.  He said that there was a good chance that it was cancer, and if so, she'd have about 1-3 months.  He was right.  She still ate well, but she kept losing weight.  She became much pickier about what she would eat, but we still were clever enough to think up dishes that she would eat, and hand-fed her.

She was doing quite well over the past few months, until yesterday.  She had a restless, sleepless night. My husband woke me up early to tell me that he thought she was dying.  She was listless and we could tell something was wrong. He put her on the bed next to me, and we didn't sleep, but we rested together. He kept coming in to check on her.  When I got up a few hours later, I noticed that the base of her tongue and her neck were starting to swell and fill with fluid.  Around Noon, her tongue looked so awful, and it was blocking her drinking, eating and breathing. I was afraid that it was going to burst, and it was bleeding.  I said to my husband that I knew she was going to suffer, and that I had promised her that I would never, ever let her suffer. So we agreed to call a mobile vet to make an appointment to give her rest, which was set for 6 p.m. The waiting was intense.

Her tongue and neck became worse and worse, and we almost took her to our vet at 3 p.m. because it was so horrific, but we feared what the car trip might aggravate.  She was very alert, so we decided that we could spend a couple of additional hours with her, comforting her, hugging and kissing her and telling her how much we loved her. We always wanted her to pass at home with us, her favorite place, so we held on and so did she.  We played her songs, "Sara" by Fleetwood Mac, "Sara Smile" by Hall and Oats, and the beautiful song that reminds me of her life, which I played for her every night lately, "Clair de Lune".  There was an exceptionally beautiful sunset, in honor of the exceptionally beautiful Sara.

The vet came precisely at 6 p.m. He was a very gentle, kind and compassionate person. He knew we had been through this before, but still explained every step.  She was on our bed, resting comfortably. "Clair de Lune" played in the background.  He gave the first shot, and she finally relaxed her breathing a bit.  But she was strong and determined enough that she lifted her head several times to make sure that she saw both of us.  After about 15 minutes, he came back in and prepped her for the second shot.  Everything was very kindly, carefully and gently done. After about two minutes, she was gone.  We were right in front of her, looking into her eyes, the whole time.  She went so peacefully and it gave us peace.  My husband bundled her up and took her to the vet's car. She was cremated and we will soon have her paw print to add to our shrine of other paw prints and collars from our other beloved pets who have passed.Yesterday was a very difficult and emotional day.  Now we face the emptiness and loss knowing that we have to go on without our sweet Sara.  She was such a presence and we will miss her every single day.  We continue to cry our tears and look for her in her favorite places out of the corners of our eyes.

Sara, we will love you forever and ever, and look forward to the day that we will be reunited in Heaven. Rest well, my love!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

19th Visit to Spain and Scooby Dashed by COVID-19

Wishing I Was There at Scooby
The Best-Laid Plans 
Everything was set. We had our flights, hotels, rental car, pet/house sitter (my Scooby friend, Melissa, from the U.K.) and plans to meet up with three fellow Scooby volunteers from the East Coast, in Madrid.  We were to leave on May 1st.  We had planned to stay a few days in Madrid, then on to Medina del Campo and Scooby to volunteer, then on to Salamanca and Porto. After that, back to Madrid and side trips to Toledo and Segovia.  My husband, who usually stays at home with our five dogs, was to join me on this trip. It would have been another dream vacation.

But all of our dreams were dashed weeks ago, as we saw the Coronavirus/COVID-19 taking over the World.  It is so sad that so many have lost their lives and are so very sick, and that we cannot live our normal lives. Sadly, we don't yet see the end in sight.
I Miss My Scooby Friends, Margot and Nancy, Whom We Were to Travel With
I Miss My Scooby Friend Tony, Whom We Were to Travel With

I Miss My Scooby Friend, Melissa, Whom Was to House/Pet Sit
Here with Bones (She Helped Save His Life)

Celebrating My 9 Year Anniversary Volunteering for Scooby - This Year from Home
Nine years years ago in April, I visited Scooby for the first time, to volunteer and to bring back my first adopted Galga, Bless. (Our lovely girl is a perfect dog and doing great.)  In total, Ive made 18 volunteer visits to Scooby, many times bringing dogs to the U.S.A. for adoption. It is sad that I cannot make my19th visit.  Hoping for later this year or, more likely, Spring of 2021.
Our First Galga, Bless, is a Blessing

Why Galgos?
Often, I am asked why I go all the way to Spain to rescue dogs. The answer is: because I can and it is in my heart to do so.  My love of Greyhounds led me to learning about the plight of the Galgos in Spain.  I read an article in my Greyhound magazine, which caused me to research further.  I was astounded to learn that thousands of Galgos are mistreated, abused, neglected, abandoned, dumped and killed every year, especially at the end of hunting season (in February), when they are deemed to no longer be useful by their Galgueros. 

Many people think that, because they are related to the Greyhound, they are used for racing in Spain. They are not. They are used for hunting and coursing competitions between the Galgueros.  They cruelly run their dogs on leashes beside their cars or motorcycles to 'train' them.  They breed them at will, then cull the lot to select those they believe will be the best hunters.  They don't feed them much because they believe that will make them better hunters.  When they compete, they meet at large open areas, set loose a hare, set loose their Galgos, and whichever Galgo catches the hare wins, or rather their Galguero wins. 

Galgueros Want to Win
When I first visited Scooby, which is in the heart of the Galgo hunting area,  I noticed that the locals in Medina del Campo looked at us as kind of freakish.  They watched us in the grocery stores, shops and restaurants, as though we were a bit strange.  Why would people come from all across the globe to volunteer in rugged conditions to save dogs that many think of as vermin?  I often think of it this way, which may help you understand.  They are not seen as pets, they are a tool, like a farm animal, disposable. They do not matter, unless they can win.

The Mistreatment of Galgos is Often Called, "Spain's Shame"
Why Spain?
Nine years later, I do notice a difference. Whether they admit it or not, those of us who visit Spain, and rescue these dogs, have brought a lot of prosperity to the Country. Spain is so very lovely. Everyone should go there.  After the U.S., it's my favorite Country. The people and the places are so beautiful. And please know that, like the U.S. here, many people in Spain do not agree with the animal abuse that happens there.  It drives me bonkers when people judge all of Spain because of a few pockets of people.  When Spain is open again, go there. It will change your life for the better.

I Miss My Beloved Madrid
Why Scooby?
I'm not sure if I found Scooby or Scooby found me.  I reached out to a very kind Facebook friend to learn about adopting a Galgo. She sent me the contact information of a very kind Scooby volunteer. I corresponded with her, filled out the adoption papers and selected Bless. The biggest challenge with adopting a Galgo, or any animal from another country, is having someone to transport the animal to you.  I decided to do my own transport for Bless.  There were two other very kind volunteers going to Spain who invited me to join them. Everything worked out, and I was able to go.  I fell in love with the place, the dogs, the cause and the rest is now a nine year history.  

Being there is humbling and grounding.  It is very basic work, cleaning paddocks and pens, socializing with the dogs and cats, helping with the food and transports, and doing whatever is needed.  You can make such a difference each and every day, in very simple ways.
It's Hard to Explain, But This Place Feeds My Soul

Supporting Scooby from Afar

As you can imagine, all of the attention is on Coronavirus/COVID-19. People are hurting, and we need to help in every way that we can.  But I believe that we can both help people and animals.  If it is in your heart to help causes, such as needy animal shelters, do it! There isn't a whole lot we can do right now, while we are in lockdown.  But on the other hand, we can do some very powerful things, such as help raise awareness, donate, help raise funds and advocate.  Here are some great things that have been done recently to help Scooby:
Everything helps, so let's keep it going. If you have ideas, and you think that I can assist, please let me know.

In My Dreams
Some nights, my dreams of Scooby are so real, I feel like I've had another visit.  For the Star Trekkies, I so wish that I could beam myself there whenever I want. For the Whovians, I wish the Doctor would pick us up in the TARDIS and drop us there. 

Wishing I Was at Scooby
Until I can return, I will do what I can to help.  I will love and spoil my two Scooby Galgos, Bless and Bones (Huesos) and Scooby Podenco, Levi,  Galga, Sara, and Greyhound, Brody. I will donate my money and time whenever possible. I will help to raise awareness, advocate and be another voice for helping to save the most precious Gaglos.
Soon, Scooby, Soon
Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog. Bless sends her blessings. Sara sends smiles. Bones sends kisses and hugs. Levi sends happiness.

Our lovely Galga, Bless
Our gorgeous Galga, Sara

Our regal Galgo, Bones
Our handsome Podenco, Levi

Saturday, February 29, 2020

18th Visit to Scooby - I Love This Place!

Sweet Scooby Galgo Waiting for Love
8 Years and 18 Visits to Scooby 
My 18th visit to Spain and Scooby in September/October 2019, proved to be another very special, rewarding and fulfilling trip. I had the now-normal flight delay from San Diego to Dallas to Madrid and arrived a few hours later than planned in Madrid.
Madrid is One of My Favorite Cities 
Met up with my travel companion, Nancy, at the cozy Hostel Barrera. Had a nap and then went to a lovely neighborhood tapas spot.  Later that evening, we wandered in the neighborhood and stumbled upon a teeny cool old restaurant that had an excellent jazz band.  
Super Cool Jazz Band We Stumbled Upon
We waited for our third companion, Margot, and let her settle in for our adventures. Together, we did so many wonderful and fun things, including visiting unique restaurants and bars, shops, sightseeing, tours, and we so enjoyed each other’s company.
My Two Lovely Travel Companions, Margot and Nancy
We traveled to Scooby Medina del Campo, on the fast train this time, my first. Drops you at a location just outside of Medina. Cabs are always inexpensive and friendly drivers locally. Easy to get to Scooby to meet the Staff and check in. Ended up that it was a very busy time of year for tourism in Medina. I think because this area of Spain is becoming popular for wineries. Luckily, I had booked a room at Hotel la Mota, prefer Reina Isabel, but all booked at that time. Margot and I shared a room, which was very affordable, and Nancy stayed in a Scooby Casa.
Scooby is So Special to Me 
At Scooby, we met and loved as many animals as we could. We cleaned paddocks and helped wherever needed. There were other Slovenian volunteers there, doing very important medical work, which we are grateful for. We also met up with the Daphne Legacy Tour Fall team, who has now brought over 100 Scooby Galgos to the USA for adoption through greyhound groups. God bless them for this noble work that they do. 
This is a very good time of year to visit the shelter. There are so many animals who need homes, and good work is being done every day to place them. Scooby has transports that go out monthly to European countries: Holland, Germany, France, Italy, Slovenia, among others. Canada and the USA are also very important adoption partners, which is heartwarming. Nancy, Margot and I met so many lovely animals, and we always have our specials in each paddock, usually because they need that extra love and protection. 
Scooby Galgos Want Your Love
So Many Dogs to Love, I'm Always in Heaven! 

Butterfly and Lucas Coming to California
I met my two Galgos, to be adopted via Greyhound Friends for Life, the most breathtaking Butterfly (now Lily Electra) and Lucas, the most handsome one. Lily was selected for adoption by a wonderful California couple, prior to my visit, and Lucas was selected by me because he needed to get out of the shelter and into a home ASAP. Both were a joy, even in the shelter, which says a lot about their temperament and character. 
Butterfly, Now Lily Electra, Living the BIG Life in California 
Lucas Was Adopted Quickly by a Family in Northern California

Back to Madrid
Nancy, Margot and I stayed a few more nights at another very fine hostel in Madrid, visited more super-cool haunts and had a blast. Nancy left one day before me and traveled through JFK, bringing more Galgos to the USA. Margot stayed another several days to visit the South of Spain for other adventures.
Me and Margot Having a Glass of Blue Wine in Madrid

Coming Home
Scooby’s Marcos brought my two Galgos to the Madrid airport and everything went very smoothly. Had a direct Iberian flight to San Francisco this time, which was a dream. Once we arrived, I waited for over 90 minutes for the dogs to be delivered in the cargo area. The Customs agents helped me expedite and then were so kind about checking their paperwork and passing us through. Margery and Bill were eagerly awaiting Lily’s arrival, and rock star Julie was waiting for Lucas, both just outside the gate. My Sister, Mary, and Brother-in-law, Dan, along with a special guest, one of my college housemates, Christa, all came to pick me up at the airport. We had a delicious dinner and then time to catch up. It was another magical trip!
Lily and Lucas Coming to Their Forever Homes in the USA

19th Trip Plans
Once again, another fulfilling trip, my 18th. Stay tuned for my 19th. Darrell and I plan to travel and meet up with dear Scooby friends (coronavirus permitting), Nancy, Margot and Tony and meeting up at the shelter in early May, with extra time touring Spain and Portugal. Melissa, my dear friend will house and pet sit for us. We wanted to bring 2-4 Galgos back for adoption via Greyhound Friends for Life, but have run into issues with our booking upon return. Still hoping to work with Iberian Airlines to be able to bring dogs back. Seems such a shame to go all of that way and not be able to save a few more precious souls. 
Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog. Bless sends her blessings. Sara sends smiles. Bones sends kisses and hugs. Levi sends happiness.
Our lovely Galga, Bless
Our gorgeous Galga, Sara

Our regal Galgo, Bones
Our handsome Podenco, Levi

Traveling to Spain? Consider becoming a Flight Angel and transporting dogs to the U.S.A.
Help Scooby build the NEW and much needed Puppy Shelter in 2020.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Adopting Levi, the Scooby Spanish Podenco

This story begins with the loss of our beloved Jake, an American Eskimo dog, whom I mourn every day since he passed in July, 2019. Call us "crazy dog people", because we are. Even with three Galgos and a Greyhound, our house seemed so quiet and missing something extra special without Jake. 

I was looking at the Scooby dogs to select which I would bring back to the USA for adoption, and this young handsome Podenco/Galgo mix dog struck me as one that would be perfect. I inquired about him and reserved him right away, all of the time thinking that he would be for someone else, via Greyhound Friends for Life, my adoption group. As my husband and I discussed things, we decided that if the fates would bring him to us before my rescue trip to Spain in late September, we would adopt him as our own. Shortly thereafter, Michelle, from SAGE (Save A Galgo Espanol) offered a spot on a transport from Madrid to Los Angeles. I messaged her, and was able to get Levi on the transport with a very kind flight patron. Darrell and I drove to LAX to pick up Levi on Friday the 13th, 2019. Everything went well, and we were able to help with the other dogs transported that day. 

Levi is so handsome

Levi uses our hot tub as his look-out tower

Levi has taken over the hammock in our back yard

Originally, we thought that Levi was a Galgo, but he is SO much a Podenco (mix), and I've always wanted to adopt one, so am delighted to learn about having this special boy in our pack. He is a riot! So much energy, life and love. He runs the front and back yards like they are his race tracks, loves to play with toys and has look-outs in high places, such as our hot tub and hammock. He plays and plays and plays. So much energy sometimes, that he makes us tired.  He does chew things, which we are working on, But he is so doggone sweet and silly, with his endearing groaning with pleasure when he is happy, to his grunting like a piggy, when he is super happy in the mornings and when we return home.

We love our Levi, and we are so grateful to Scooby for saving him from a terrible fate, and the adoption, paperwork and airport transport, SAGE for the transport and flight patron, and everyone who helps support what we do to rescue these dogs.
He sleeps

All of us who are involved with this animal rescue work are committed to saving as many of these souls as possible from neglect, abuse, abandonment and death every year in Spain, all for the selfishness of hunting and for possessing the very best hunter. Let's save more of these precious souls in 2020.  How to help.

Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog. Bless sends her blessings. Sara sends smiles. Bones sends kisses and hugs. Levi sends happiness.
Our lovely Galga, Bless
Our gorgeous Galga, Sara

Our regal Galgo, Bones
Our handsome Podenco/Galgo, Levi

Traveling to Spain? Consider becoming a Flight Angel and transporting dogs to the U.S.A. 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Joining Forces with Daphne Legacy Tour, 17th Visit to Scooby, April, 2019

Scooby Galgos Look for Love

In April, 2019, it was my 17th visit to Scooby. This visit marks 8 1/2 years of volunteer work at Scooby.  I spent a few lovely days in Madrid before taking the train to Medina del Campo. Stayed in a hostel near the hustle and bustle of Puerta del Sol, and saw the amazing Easter parade. I realized that it is a huge party area, and people are up until 6 a.m., so I downloaded a white noise app for my phone to drown out the hooting and hollering.

Easter Parade in Madrid
Last year, I was in touch with Christina Azaharian Taylor from Daphne Legacy Tour (DLT). She had formed a non-profit in honor of her beloved Galga, Daphne, whom she had adopted from a rescue group in Barcelona. Her mission is to work with Greyhound groups who want to adopt out Spanish Galgos into loving homes in the USA, and to transport them. Chris' organization is sponsored by Friends of Retired Greyhounds in Denver, led by Lee Simpson and a crew of dedicated volunteers who work with both non-profits to save and place dogs into forever homes. My greyhound rescue group, Greyhound Friends for Life (Barb Judson), put us in touch with each other. 

Chris was contacting various Galgo rescue organizations in Spain, and many were skeptical because she had not brought lots of dogs to the USA. I introduced her to my Scooby Medina del Campo family (because, selfishly, I want Scooby dogs to be rescued), and all of the doors opened. She was able to bring 24 Galgos back on her first trip last year, and together, we brought 39 in April, 2019, who are now in loving homes. In October, 2019, 37 more will be transported to the USA, as well by DLT.  Amazing work! God bless you all for saving these precious souls. 

On this visit, I stayed in my favorite hotel in Medina del Campo, the Reina Isabel. Comfy and cozy always, and great staff.  Chris and her husband, Dray, had rented a very large van, and kindly picked me and a few other volunteers up there in the mornings to bring us to the shelter, and then dropped us off at night. We had several very nice dinners together, as well as some excursions to Salamanca, Zamora and Madrid. Our main focus was on meeting and preparing the Galgos for their transports. We gave some baths, prepared kennels, Chris and crew did all of the much-more-complicated paperwork for all 39 dogs, which was a feat in itself.

We returned on various flights over three days and the Scooby team helped us get all of the dogs and kennels safely to the Madrid airport, some traveling through Chicago, others through JFK in New York. Some of us met with new obstacles and red tape related to USA Immigration and Customs. Ended up that I was rerouted from Madrid to JFK to Chicago because American downsized all of their planes. Huge hassle. Had to go from Madrid to Chicago to San Jose, and paid an extra $1,000 for me and the two Galgos. I will provide a separate posting about tips for getting through the new rules for bringing dogs to the USA from another country. 

The two dogs that I brought to NorCal were both adopted very quickly and are in their loving forever homes. I keep asking myself if I can do this work much longer, but after all of the dust settles and they go from rags to riches, I know that I can! Absolutely!
Pumuki - Adopted!
Estabon - Adopted!
Stay tuned! I am leaving for Madrid on 9/20/19 to bring two more Galgo souls to their forever homes. Meeting up with wonderful friends, who will also bring dogs to the USA. Will share our experiences with you when we return.

Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog. Bless sends her blessings! Sara sends smiles!  Bones sends kisses and hugs!
Our gorgeous Galga, Bless!
Our gorgeous Galga, Sara!

Bonesey sends hugs and kisses!

Traveling to Spain? Consider becoming a Flight Angel and transporting dogs to the U.S.A.