Thursday, April 2, 2015

Guest Blog -- Podencos in America, Rescued by Hound Sanctuary

Guest Blog:  Podencos in America, Rescued by Hound Sanctuary
Meet Dahlia. This is how sad she was before she was rescued from Spain.
Now she's living the big life that she deserves in California, thanks to Hound Sanctuary.

Thank you to Rain Jordan, President of Hound Sanctuary in California for contributing this blog entry.  I met Rain through my galgo rescue work.  She has a passion for Spanish podencos, and recently started a non-profit organization to rescue and re-home these beautiful dogs.  On my last trip to Scooby, I had the opportunity to spend quality time with a paddock of podencos and fell in love.  To know them is love them!

Read on for more information from Rain about this lovely breed and how you can help.

I knew it the instant I saw the distinct, familiar sadness in her eyes. I knew it the instant she looked up over the wirey tufts of strawberry blond tangled across her muzzle, and through her lashes long as sorrow. I knew it then, as I’ve known it before, as I will know it again and again. This dog has endured enough. And now, after enduring all she had been made to endure, this dog had been left for death, in a cold, wet, chaotic place, bearing her heart and mind in tatters. It is my job to see that this dog endures no further hardship. It is my job to mend this dog’s heart and mind, and then to see that she never is tattered again.
The lovely Dahlia. As beautiful as her name.
This is my job, always. Dahlia is the most recent of the many podencos to come from Spain to Hound Sanctuary in California. She was taken by her hunter-owner to a perrera (something like what we think of as a kill shelter—though not as nice—sometimes called a “killing station”), and the hunter-owner had given the perrera permission to kill her, which meant that she would be put on the fast-track for euthanasia—she didn’t have much time to live. I knew absolutely nothing else about her. After begging a perrera volunteer, to no avail, to let me get her out (it was about to be a holiday and the perrera would be closed, leaving her alone, cold, and at risk for days), I began a panicked reaching out to my social media contacts. There were one or two NOs, but soon enough, three great rescuers in Spain, trusted rescuer-friends of Hound Sanctuary, agreed to help. Soon Dahlia was on her way to foster in Costa Blanca, and soon after that she and two of her foster-siblings were on their way to us in California.

As it turns out, Dahlia is less than 2 years old, and the sweetest podenca we could ever have hoped for. Correction, the sweetest dog we could have hoped for. Good with cats, other dogs, and people. Calm, quiet, affectionate, cuddly, smart—not at all what you might expect if you believe what is often heard about podencos. Let me preface this by saying that the description I am about to give is the STEREOTYPED description of negative traits of the podenco, not necessarily the whole truth: hyperactive or high energy, high prey drive, stubborn, escape artist. The truth about the podenco, however, is much more variable and nuanced.
Dahlia looks so happy in her safe and comfortable new home.
Physically, podencos are quite agile; most are able to jump at least a 5 foot fence with ease—often from a standstill—whether they know they can or not. (Keep in mind that this is also true of most of your greyhounds and galgos!) Where a majority is more than 50%, it is fair to say that at least the majority of podencos are energetic and will want a good amount of exercise, whether it be a long daily walk, or a jog (on leash, of course), etc. They also will love you to pieces for providing them a spacious fenced yard where they can play and freely do the podenco bounce.

The decent-sized minority who do not seem to demand as much exercise nevertheless should get exercise, since you should not allow your podenco to live a sedentary or bored life, neither of which is healthy.

Podencos can jump a 5 foot fence from a standstill. Wow!
Some podencos will be okay with small animals while others will not be. This is no different than a greyhound or any other hound. We test ours with cats and we foster with cats. We have seen a couple that probably should not live with cats, a couple that are
iffy, and many that have been okay with them. That being said, we recommend never leaving small animals unsupervised with a large dog of ANY breed; this seems like basic common sense. At the very least, ensure that there are escape routes for your smaller animals, just in case. I absolutely believe in "Better Safe than Sorry". I also have cats and podencos. Draw your own conclusions.
Dahlia is even cat safe. Look how sweetly she sleeps. An angel!
The podenco personality is quite lovely. They are sensitive, loyal, intelligent creatures who form strong bonds with their humans and will keep those bonds so long as they are treated with respect and gentleness. Break the trust and the podenco may begin to rely on the independent part of her nature. Most podencos will need clear, consistent positive-style training; otherwise, they are just as likely to have you trained before you know what hit you. They learn quickly and evolve. Many can learn to use door handles. We had one that learned to use the refrigerator ice-maker. 

Podencos may be high-strung or calm in personality, playful or mellow in behavior, ready to cuddle with your cat or conquer it, quick to learn a ‘down-wait’ or to go get some ice for his water bowl, on the hunt for every possible way out of the yard or every possible way to steal your cuddle partner’s spot on the sofa. Dahlia enjoys a morning bounce around the house and yard and some stuffy time. Then, until the Hour of the Walk, she likes to take over a large open crate that we keep in the living room with a memory foam mattress in it. She’ll go in and out of it throughout the day and evening, exiting for cuddles, pets, cookies, to catch some rays, or just to say hi. (Sometimes the other podenco steals it from her, in which case she settles for sitting on the couch with her humans or in one of the other memory foam beds.) She’s gentle with everyone, loving, polite, and simply posh. Podencos in America are wonderful creatures full of light, love, joy, and most importantly, hope.
Dahlia chillin' in her plush California digs.
In Spain, the podenco’s situation is grim. (Worse, even, than the plight of the galgos, perhaps partly because the stereotypes cause them to be regarded even lower than galgos, perhaps partly because galgos resemble greyhounds, whom we already know and love, so who tend to get support more easily from us.) It is estimated that there are at least 60,000, probably many more, dying each year in Spain as a result of being over-bred and used as hunting tools, then disposed of. Commonly, their pre-hunting-dog training includes being hooked to the sides or back of a truck or other motor vehicle and being forced to run along with it; the dogs that can’t keep up often get dragged. Dogs that don’t do a good job during training or during hunts may be hanged, burned, throat-slit, or dumped on the road, sometimes with their legs broken, eyes gouged out, or mouth propped open (to keep them from finding their way home or surviving). The ones that do make the cut are kept in storage, if you will, between hunts. Often they are chained up with only a couple feet of chain, in tiny shacks, sometimes with no light, and fed stale bread if at all because it is thought a hungry dog is a better hunting dog. There are those who say that not all hunters behave in these ways with their dogs, and that may be true; for example, Dahlia’s owner brought her to the perrera to be killed instead of employing one of the above methods. There are also a few hunters who are beginning to consider the better option of turning their dogs over to rescuers when they are done with them. It’s a start, and we applaud that. And there is always room for improvement. We will always welcome the opportunity to discuss improvements with the owners of these sweet creatures.
Dahlia now has the great life that she deserves. Isn't she gorgeous?
Before I get into FAQs of why we do what we do, let me ask you, dear reader, to ask yourself how you can help save hounds. As a registered charity and 501(c)3 non-profit, Hound Sanctuary is always seeking volunteers and donations. Every little bit helps and is appreciated: cash donations large or small, items donated to be auctioned, tax, legal, vet, and other services, etc. Currently our most pressing needs are 1) qualified foster homes and 2) large donors—and these two needs are very much related. We are very grateful to those who have fostered for us so far and of course we understand that people have lives outside of fostering. Yet still, the podencos need a commitment. They come to us broken and they need stability. So we foster a lot of them ourselves. Therefore, we have decided that we must purchase a larger property so that we have the room to house and foster more dogs at once, ourselves, on the sanctuary property, while they recover from their pasts and prepare for their new lives in their forever homes.

I realize it’s a huge ask, but I am asking for the podencos: Please, anyone out there who knows anyone who cares about and can afford to help underserved, desperately needy animals to start anew, please ask them to donate to this project. We have identified two potential properties so far and we need funding.

To arrange large donations, please contact me directly at 831 661 5626 (office), by email at, or via the website

Thank you for helping us help the hounds.

Rain Jordan, President
Hound Sanctuary

How You Can Help


Why bring dogs here from another country when we already have so many in need of adoptive homes here?
The fact that people continue to buy dogs from breeders shows us that some people will always elect not to adopt if they cannot adopt the breed they want. Ibizan hounds are one such breed that people want. Hound Sanctuary makes it possible for those people who ONLY want a specific breed to ADOPT a needy dog rather than buy a potentially puppy-milled dog (Caveat: Not all breeders are irresponsible/"puppy mills"), and we make it possible for people who would love to have this breed, but who only want a rescue dog, to have a dog of the breed type while still helping animals by rescuing. Thus, we are actually helping the situation in the US by decreasing the demand for breeding as well as the risk of more dogs ending up in shelters (such as what sometimes happens when a purebred dog is purchased impulsively or without enough precautions taken).

Isn’t this exceedingly expensive and therefore not viable long-term?
It is expensive, but that is no reason not to do it. We don’t stop looking for cures for other problems just because they are expensive. At least by adopting from a rescue like Hound Sanctuary, you can do and encourage good rather than possible harm. Also important to consider is this: Our adopters pay for at least some of the expense to adopt one of our dogs, and this is a good thing because people who are willing to spend $500 or more to adopt a needy, adult dog are much less likely to consider that dog disposable. Through our adoptions fees and rigorous vetting process, we find good adopters who 1) can afford to care for the dog, whatever his needs may be, 2) are willing to go through an ultra-vigorous application process because they truly understand and believe that this is for the dog’s safety and happiness, not just their own, and 3) are less interested in getting a dog for its cuteness alone and more interested in SAVING a dog in need, which means that our adopters are highly unlikely to fail the dog. We believe this approach is extremely viable for the long term—much more so than the ‘easy come, easy go’ approach that sometimes results in dogs being passed from place to place, ad to ad, to who knows where and who knows what.

What about the carbon footprint involved in flying dogs here?
We do our very best to fly dogs with people who are already traveling anyway, so that our dogs may ‘hitch a ride’ with them. For those who would argue that there is still an extra carbon footprint due to the weight of the dog alone, please remember that everything we do leaves a footprint, and many things we do a lot of leave a huge footprint. Driving a car, eating meat or dairy, or living in a house, for example, creates a much larger carbon footprint than that of a 40 to 50 pound dog hitching a ride. There are many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and at the same time save animals. Why not focus on one of the many other ways to reduce your footprint, and let these poor creatures finally know what it is like to live in a safe, loving home?

Why would I want to adopt a dog I have never met?
Sometimes we will have an available dog in foster, so it is possible that you could meet your dog before deciding to adopt. (You can also apply to foster first if you are within driving distance to us.) But by finding adopters for the dogs before they arrive, we can save many more lives each year. You know how people say that we humans tend to be attracted to other people who are bad for us rather than those who would be good for us—and that we do it over and over again? That tendency to follow our ‘patterns’ often applies to choosing our pets as well, so having an objective party match-make for us can be a really great, healthy, and success-causing opportunity. We can match you up based on your personality, living situation, work, interests, activity level, and so on, as well as what traits you most hope for in your adoptive dog. We work very hard to ensure that you and your new dog are a great fit. If on the off chance it isn’t, you simply return the dog to us. If you are a person who has purchased or adopted many animals over the years, thinking each was just perfect for you, and later realizing that you still didn’t have the right one, so kept adding to your menagerie, you may be the person most likely to benefit from our program!

Visit our website any time, day or night, to inquire about our dogs!

Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog. Bless sends her blessings! Sara sends smiles! Wilma sends kisses and hugs!

Our gorgeous Galga, Bless!

Our gorgeous Galga, Sara!

Our gorgeous Greyhound, Wilma!