Thursday, May 26, 2011

5/1/11, Day 4 - Last Day at Scooby - 3rd Full Day of Work

Who goes there?
Photo by Saskia Bijkersma 
Awoke early to the morning serenade of synchronized dog howling. This would be my last morning to hear the beautiful song of the Galgos. I think Scooby may want to cut a record of "the wave" and use it as a fund raiser. ;-)  It was misty. The crickets were singing. Very peaceful. It turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day of about 70 degrees.  Perfect last day! Got ready for the day, and went over to the Quarantine area to clean the pens, one last time.

It's official! I have fallen in love with these dogs.  I have, what is known as "Scooby Fever".  They have come to know me, and I them.  They seemed to be waiting for their clean-up and visit.  I savored every moment with them on this last day, knowing that I would not see any of them again, except my Bless.  Such dear hearts, just waiting to be acknowledged and loved. I wish them all great lives and loving homes.

Two of the Quarantine Dogs - All Bark and All Love

My cleaning process is getting more efficient. I'm faster at it now: scoop, hose, fill water buckets, give love, repeat....   Only took about 2 hours to finish all 12 pens today.  That left more time for a second sweep of cleaning the patios, and more time for loving the dogs.

Ate some lunch and then went back to the dorm to pack and get ready to take my darling Bless home to California.  Packed all of my clothes and laid everything out for an early morning departure.  Put together the dog carrier and the bedding. Filled out and pasted on all of the ID tags, and put her filled water cups in the freezer.

Visited the Quarantine dogs again to take photos (many with Hazel - she will have her own blog entry ;-) ), and then to the paddocks.  Helped watch over the dinner feeding to make sure everyone played fair.  It was heart wrenching to say, "Goodbye" to these beautiful animals.

Diane called me back to the dorm so that I could meet up with her to get Bless.  My Bless was taken out of the kennel, so that the other dogs could eat. She had to skip dinner because of her next day of travel.  Diane was working with Fermin and the Vet, to make sure that her Passport (yes, she has her own passport), and all of her paperwork were in order. They also cut her nails and checked her over to make sure she was ready for her long journey to her new home.
Bless' Passport from Spain
Just like a "people" ;-)
Bless' Passport has her Breed, Blood Work, Vaccination Information for Entry into the USA 
No Quarantine Period Necessary with the Proper Credentials
Went back to help with making dog food with my US and UK fellow volunteers. We had a lot of fun chatting and getting to know each other.  They had finished with Bless, and brought her to me so that she could relax with us while we made the food.  She was so serene and relaxed. I knew this was going to be even better than I had imagined; after all, her name is "Bless". Right?

Bless and Me - Making Dog Food for the Others
Lucinda was hugging Bless and told me that she was a "true" Galgo. I asked what that meant. She said that (as compared to an Irish greyhound) they have almond shaped eyes, floppy ears, a long tail that reaches their spine when curled up on their body, a wider chest, and bigger paws.  My Galga even has a Roman nose, just like me!  I mentioned to Lucinda that since there are so many forgotten, neglected, abused and abandoned animals in this world, my Bless (and my other dogs and cat) are needles in the haystack.  They only have a very small chance at a good life. Isn't that sad?

Lydia took Bless for a short walk, and then I continued to get ready for my trip home. When she brought her back, we all took our showers and got ready for dinner. I took Bless out one more time to see if she wanted to relieve herself before we left.  I looked out over the Scooby grounds, and then out to the surrounding fields. Again the crickets were singing.  Amazingly, there was a beautiful rainbow in the distance.  This Galga was going to her new home, and all was well with the world.

We left Bless in her carrier when we went to town for our favorite pizza place.  It was so cute because the proprietor had gotten to know all of us, and he always turned on either a Phil Collins or Bruce Springsteen concert DVD to entertain us while we ate (circa 1990's). Near the end of our dinner, our friends from the UK joined at the table next to us.  We all hugged, exchanged contact information, and said our goodbye's.  I have since connected on Facebook with Diane and Lydia, my US mates, and many of the others from the UK and the Netherlands. They have all posted their wonderful photos, some of which, I have added to this blog. Thanks to all of you for your camaraderie, support, the work you have done and still do for Scooby!

Got ready for a few hours of sleep. Alarm was set for 3:30 a.m.  Bless slept like an angel on the bedding on the floor, all cuddled up in a blanket, near my bed. She sighed in contentment a few times.  We both went to sleep with smiles. :-)

More to come. Thank you for reading my blog!

Please support Scooby! Muchas Gracias.

Hasta Luego!

Bless sends you her Blessings!

Friday, May 20, 2011

5/1/11, Day 3 at Scooby - 2nd Full Day of Work

Welcome to another day at Scooby!
Photo by Saskia Bijkersma

Awoke early to "the Wave" serenade of hundreds of singing dogs.  I sure will miss hearing this, as there is truly nothing like it.  Put on my gear and headed out to clean up the Quarantine pens.

By now, I've gotten it down to a pretty efficient system. Couple of tricks to the cleaning: drag the hose over the fence (more flexibility), drag the poop bucket and supplies into the pen before you begin working, use the tile squeegee to drag the full bucket out to the waste area. The process: 1) scoop the poop, 2) hose down the pen, 3) fill the water, 4) remove work gloves, sit on the tile and ask, "Who needs some loving?" From there, the dogs come out and crowd around, each waiting to be petted.  There were a couple of very shy ones that actually shook if you tried to get near them.  I tried very hard to get them to come to me for a pet, but they just couldn't trust. Heaven only knows what they've endured, prior to coming to Scooby.  From the others, I got so many kisses, hugs and leans. Could have spent days with each and every dog and it wouldn't have been enough.

It rained a bit, on and off. The dogs cried and ran into their shelters.  Galgos don't like the rain. They like laying out in the sun on their clean patios, and my aim was to get those patios clean as soon as possible for the sun bathers!
Galgos love to bathe in the sun, and they don't like the rain.
Note: Hazel sighting in this photo.
After finishing the 12 pens, I walked the Quarantine area for a final check, and wouldn't you know it, my masterpieces were ruined with more poop and pee.  I became a bit obsessive about it and did a second round of scooping and hosing.  The dogs seemed to appreciate it too.

Once again, all of the volunteers took guard in each paddock and pen, as the food was distributed, to make certain that everyone was getting along, playing fair, and had a chance to eat.  We hand fed a few of the shy ones who didn't even seem to know how to get their food from the feeding troughs.  It went well on this day, which made everyone happy.
Two new, shy Scooby dogs that we need to beef up.  Before long, they will gain weight, be much healthier, and hopefully, have forever homes with loving families, like our Bless does.
My routine was to clean the Quarantine pens, eat a nice little microwave omelette for lunch (break an egg in a cup, stir w/veggies and herbs, and micro for about 1-2 min.), then take a break at the dorm. After that, see what else needs to be done.  That day, I also cleaned the medical rooms, mopped, did some dog laundry (blankets).  During my down time, I loved to enter the Quarantine pens and paddocks to visit the dogs.  This was my favorite time of day!
Galgo Love. My favorite part of the day!
We all cleaned up and then went out for a late pizza dinner, once again, at the great little restaurant in Medina del Campo.  The wonderful volunteers from the Netherlands, Saskia, Ricky, Nicky, and Roy joined us for dinner.  We had some good conversation and laughter, and then turned in for the night.
Nicky and Ricky, Wonderful volunteers from the Netherlands. Ricky celebrated his 21st birthday with us. 
Roy, Saskia and Ricky. Our Netherlands volunteers put their whole hearts into their work. Thank you all!
What a great day it was, indeed!

Thank you for reading my blog. More to follow.

Hasta Luego!

Bless Easter
Isn't she gorgeous?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

4/30/11, First Full Work Day at Scooby Medina del Campo

Loving Galgos - Please Adopt me! 
Scooby Medina del Campo, photo Louise Stanforth

Woke up early in the morning, even though I'm on California time, and I should be very tired, must be adrenaline from the excitement of being here.  Of course, "the Wave" of dog serenades began early this morning, and that was a factor for my early rising.  Got dressed and ready to work. Made some really great coffee that we bought at the local store. I think it had chicory, and not certain what else, but it was mellow and delightful. Spain is just so great, in so many ways!

Diane and Lydia (Scooby USA Board) joined me as we set out on our first day of work. We took the quarantine area clean-up, which consists of 12 pens of about 65 dogs, mostly Galgos, and some other breeds. All of the dogs in this area are either going to be adopted, or they are going to be shipped to other adoption locations, such as: other parts of Spain, France, Germany, or the Netherlands.
Making Dog food at Scooby
Lydia Best and Diane Ward
This was a special day for me, as it was the day that I met the very dear volunteers from the UK: Ellie, Jacqui, Heather, Lucinda, Trevor, Louise and Keith. I want to give a super HUGE shout out to all of these wonderful folks who gave their hearts and souls in all of their good work while they were there. They had arrived a few days prior. By the time we arrived, they were so into their very hard work, such that I couldn't tell if they were if they were employees or volunteers.  They were all so kind and helpful.  Since I've returned home, I've connected with all of them via Facebook and email. (More on this later.)
Thank you Keith and Lou! You two worked so hard, sun up to sun down.
Keith, your masonry work is a marvel. Lou, your work with the animals, invaluable, and your photography, amazing! Thank you both!

The wonderful  UK Scooby Volunteers! Trevor, Heather, Lucinda, Ellie,  and Jacqui!
I have participated in numerous volunteer efforts, and have yet to see any team work harder and with such compassion. Heartfelt thanks to all of you!
The Scooby facility was full to capacity, particularly with Galgos, rescued from Seville, so we all watched over the quarantine and paddock areas during the morning and evening feedings to make certain that everyone had a chance to eat,  and fights didn't break out. We shouted, rattled fences, made ourselves the alpha, etc., when necessary, to keep the peace. We moved the gentle, shy ones, away from the grumpy, aggressive ones, to make certain everyone was safe, as best we could.

Visited the quarantine areas and paddocks throughout the day and evening, getting to know the dogs. When you enter, some dogs are very social, and they come right up to greet you and ask to be petted. Others are shy, and downright afraid.  They wait in line for you to notice and acknowledge them, so that they can receive your attention, and then share trust and love.  They are *so* starved for love and human attention, that it makes your heart ache.  It is wonderful to know that so many of them will go to good homes, or they will become retirees at Scooby!

This little girl was so sweet. 
Every time I entered her pen, she was the first in line, and then she jumped up and put her paws on my shoulders. She has so much love, just waiting to give to someone... adopt me?

As for the work day: Folks in Spain generally take Siesta, which is around noon and lasts for 1-2 hours. (Shouldn't we all do this? :-) )  I can't say that the Scooby staff takes the full Siesta, but because of it, and their routine, they do eat dinner very late, their time (9-11 p.m.) as compared to what we are accustomed to in the USA, which is bedtime for us.

Delightful evening

On this particular late evening, all of the Scooby volunteers gathered in the little town of Medina del Campo, in a very nice and friendly restaurant, to celebrate Fermin Perez birthday, the Scooby founder and caretaker.  Volunteers were from the US, Spain, UK and the Netherlands. It was so great!
Fermin's Birthday dinner with the Scooby Volunteers
We socialized and then ordered dinner, where we tried to figure out the menu offerings, which was Spanish fare and listed in Espanol on the menu.  I asked about a beef dish, thinking that I'd get something in sauce, and somewhat light.  What I actually received was a large "Fred Flintstone" rare t-bone steak. I think most at the table were surprised at what they had ordered, once it had arrived.  The restaurant was very kind and took back my steak and cooked to medium. There was so much food, and it was so late, so I decided to take a doggie bag, along with Lydia's left overs, who had the same order and experience. We knew the Scooby dogs, including Bless, would be in heaven, with this steak surprise.  We took everything back to Scooby and settled in for the night.

More to come. Thank you for reading my blog!

Please support Scooby!

Hasta Luego!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Journey & First Day - Medina del Campo

Journey to Medina del Campo

Up and ready to face the day at 5 a.m.  Took the Metro in Madrid to the Airport.  A bit confusing going backward on the path that I had mapped out, but with the help of one of the station attendants, was able to find my way.  Got there in plenty of time to get some breakfast.  Croque Monsieur's and cafe con leche seemed to be the breakfast of choice at the airport.  Good and filling.  Retrieved the dog carrier from the "Left Luggage" area, and then waited for Diane and Lydia, Scooby USA Volunteers.  Within about 15 minutes they came out of the arrival area, and met up with them for introductions.  Diane worked out the reservations for the large van, which would fit all of our carriers and dogs, and Lydia and I got to get to know each other a bit.

Once Diane had finished with the reservation, we paraded our dog carriers out to the vehicle, loaded up and headed for Medina del Campo.  Diane did all of the driving, which was much appreciated (plus stick shift, which I haven't driven in years).  In Spain, they drive on the right, and the steering wheel is on the left, like the US, which is great.  The traffic in Madrid and outskirts reminded me of our California driving. In the metropolitan area, it's somewhat surprising to see how much graffiti there is on every single concrete wall along the highway.  Every square inch is covered with "paint".

It was a beautiful drive over. We crossed the green belt of beautiful mountains and passed many small villages that looked as though they need to be further investigated, with more time. Numerous windmills along the way as well.  We stopped at a small rest stop area, about 30 minutes from our destination.  It was a truck stop with every service. Very clean and nice people working there.  As you get into the rural areas, folks tend to speak only Spanish, but you can still make your way, no matter.  With gestures and sign language, somehow you figure it out. :-)

Arrival at Scooby

When we arrived in the afternoon, decided to go to the grocery store first, to pick up items for the week.  It's always fun and interesting to shop in local grocery stores, and this was no exception.  It was obvious that we were outsiders in this tiny little Spanish town.  They noticed.  Not really friendly, and the fact that we didn't speak Spanish, did not help.  We browsed through the aisles and selected what we thought we'd like to share for the week and then checked out.  Food prices were very reasonable, and everything was presented much like in a smaller US market, yet different fare.

It was only about 10 minutes to get from the town to Scooby.  Funny thing is that the landmark to turn on to the road to enter is just in front of the potato chip factory, which seems to be quite lucrative and runs most shifts during the week. I'm sure it employs most of the locals, and there is another food company nearby who probably also are a big employer.

Once you reach the Scooby fences, you see the perimeter guard dogs, the pens for the doves, rabbits, raccoons, etc, and some very friendly Galgos, which belong to Fermin, Scooby's Founder.  Then, there ahead, is the gate to enter the facility.  The first thing that you  are struck with is the serenade of dogs howling and barking to greet you.  It's a beautiful thing, indeed.  The facility is composed of several buildings, all paid for by donations and built by volunteers, which include paddock shelters, a building with men's and women's locker rooms, a kitchen, storage and shelters, an office building, two operating rooms and treatment room, a medical storage and recovery room,  a store/dorm with sets of bunk beds for visiting volunteers, a research room, education room, and a warehouse area for storing the washers for bedding, clothes lines for drying, and blanket storage, food stores, and cat stores and beds. They plan to build a puppy shelter next, so if you want to donate to a worthy cause, please consider Scooby.

Scooby has hundreds of dogs (mostly Galgos), cats, horses, bulls, donkeys, pigs, chickens, geese, ducks, pigeons, rabbits, turtles, a blind fox, and pretty much whomever needs a loving, safe home.  Many of the animals are housed in large open field paddocks, where they can stretch out, run, and have their own open space.  The paddocks are separated by fences and each has their own area for feeding, and a shelter where the dogs can sleep at night. In the shelters, there are separate beds and fresh bedding is placed in their spots each day.

The dormitory is wall-2-wall with the quarantine area, which is a tiled, fenced area, where dogs that are being moved and adopted are located, prior to their moves. (My Bless was here.) Between the quarantine area and the paddocks, there is almost non-stop serenading all day and night long.  I like to call this "the Wave".  Many times, it would start far out in the paddocks and then move through the entire facility, until it reached our area.  It was beautiful!  If there were police sirens, that would also set off "the Wave". Wow, do I ever miss it!

I finally got to meet my new Galga, Bless.  She was in pen #2 in the Quarantine area.  First impression:  beautiful, friendly, peaceful, inquisitive, and the perfect dog to bring back to the USA.  How lucky was that to have picked her from her adoption photo! :-)

First volunteer effort was to do the laundry.  There are always dozens of blankets that need washing every day. So I emptied washers, hung blankets, and then reloaded with soiled items.

Everyone was tired that night, so we went out for pizza at an excellent restaurant in town, and then we turned in early to prepare for the next day.

That's it for now.  I will continue with my journal updates about the trip over the next few days.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Please support Scooby!

Hasta Luego!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Journey to Madrid, 4/27/11

Bless is My Adopted Galga.
Isn't she lovely?
Please pardon my pause in posting. Only took my iPhone to Spain, which worked out great. But since it's difficult to type entries, decided to journal everything and then post day by day to this blog.  I hope you'll enjoy hearing about my trip and adventures.  I had such a wonderful and rewarding trip, and am now home with my beautiful, loving Galga, Bless. 

Wednesday, 4/27

Up at 4:30 a.m. to get to SFO early for my flight to JFK/NYC and then Madrid.  Had a good flight. Met a very nice woman who was going to her granddaughter's graduation recital.  We talked about everything from A-Z.  Made the time pass quickly. Our landing was delayed because President Obama was on Air Force One, which was landing, and everything else had to be held back. We circled for about 45 minutes, and still made it in plenty of time.  Weather was foggy and misty rain.

Learned that my flight to Madrid was delayed for about an hour.  Diane and Lydia, from Scooby NA, who I was to meet with, called to let me know that their flight would not go out until the next day, because of the bad weather.  So now the adventure became more interesting.  I had one full day and one night in Madrid. What to do?

Thursday, 4/28

How did this happen? I put in for aisle seats all the way, but ended up in the middle seats all the way. Ugh!  Maybe it was fate.  Everyone tried to sleep on the flight from JFK to Madrid. I noticed that the young man to my right seemed to know a lot about Madrid, just from a few comments that he made. About 30 minutes before we landed, I asked him if he could recommend what to do and where to stay, since I had an unexpected stay in Madrid.  He was wonderful!  He told me to take the Metro, mapped it out for me, told me to get to Gran Via, and there would be hotels, food, shops, sight seeing, etc.  Wow! He was so right.  He even gave me 2 Euros to ride the metro because I hadn't converted any US $$ yet. His name is Oliver, and he's an English teacher, living in Madrid for 8 months, originally from Florida.  Wherever you are, Oliver, I thank you so much. You have no idea what you did for me that day! I hope to extend that kindness to others, as you did for me.

So Oliver gave me a plan of action, but I had that great big dog carrier. What to do with it?  Diane mentioned that there was someplace at the airport to leave it, but I walked to and fro in the Madrid airport, trying to find someplace, but to no avail. (BTW - the luggage carts are free in Madrid, $5 at SFO - ouch!)  I asked a few of the airport staff. They mentioned lockers, but said it was too big. I saw signs in various places for something called, "Left Luggage", which I was tired enough to think meant,  "Lost Luggage". Then something clicked and I thought it must be the place.  Wheeled the crate there. Even though I don't speak any Spanish and their English was a bit difficult to decipher, we figured out that I could leave the carrier there for 5.50 Euros/day.  Woo hoo! Left that baby and headed out on the Metro to Gran Via.

Oliver was right.  The Metro is a piece of cake to navigate. Reminds me of the "T" in Boston. All color coded. Every stop announced. Only costs 2 Euro to ride almost everywhere.  They charge an extra 1 E for going back to the airport.  When I arrived at Gran Via, and came out of the station, it was a gift.  Had everything, and reminded me of coming out of the station at Harvard: dozens of people on the streets, hotels, shops, restaurants, entertainment.

Oh my... but I needed to rest...  Checked at the first hotel that I saw. 135 E for one night.  Walked one block down, to another small hotel with a cute little cafe on the plaza. It was only 65 E for one night.  Checked in, took a nap, and awoke to my iPhone. Everyone was worried about me because I hadn't checked in.  Checked in with home base, freshened up and then went for a meal and walk-about.  Did lots of sight seeing. Shopped.  Ate Spanish food at the hotel cafe, and then called it a night.

I LOVE Madrid (and Spain)! :-) Can't wait to return.

I'll post further updates to this adventure in the next couple of days.  Thanks for your interest!

Please support Scooby!

Hasta Luego!