Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Part 3, Winter 2014 Volunteer Visit - Madrid, Malaga, and Bringing Four Scooby Galgos Home to California

Calisto and Cuco, Spanish Galgos Ready to Become California Dudes!
This is Part 3 of the series about my most recent trip to Spain in November/December 2014 to volunteer at Scooby in Spain.  There is so much to say, especially because my friend, Mora and I are returning again in just a few short weeks in late May. I am elated and cannot wait! :-)

Great Days in Madrid
In Part 2 of this series, I told you about our Scooby visit in November/December 2014, which was fabulous!  After we left Scooby, we returned to Madrid, turned in our rental car, and took a cab to a plush hotel at the Santa Ana Plaza. Mora and I both had luxurious loft rooms (thanks to her) and enjoyed every day to the fullest. We walked everywhere, saw the sights, the Christmas decorations, and had delicious food and great shopping along the way. I must say that Spain has the best and most well-made shoes ever, rivaling Italy. We each bought three pair, and I am still enjoying mine every day. ;-)

Madrid has some of the most Beautiful Architecture of any of the European Cities that I've Visited
Christmas Decorations on the Squares. Very festive!

A Delightful Day Volunteering in Malaga - Was it a Dream?

Meet Char del Rio, Super Star Galgo and Podenco Rescuer (left), Hugging Mora (right)
Mora and I took an easy and relaxing train ride from Madrid to Malaga, a few hours away, to volunteer at Charlotte del Rio's rescue facility, 112 Carlota Galgos. It was a magical day, meeting an unselfish and caring woman and her family who have dedicated their lives to rescuing and rehabilitating the neediest of galgos from the perreras (kill shelters).

Char knows the darkest side of galgo rescue and has seen it all. She is an angel who turns the dark into the light with the work that she does.They have a small facility that can only take around 15-20 dogs at a time, but each and every one is treated as an individual, getting the love and support that they need to be placed in forever homes. 

We helped that day by cleaning the dog pens, filling water dishes, doing laundry (coats and blankets), and socializing the dogs.  We had the opportunity to visit with Char, her wonderful family, her dogs and cat, her rescued galgos and horse. She was just getting ready to move to the new finca right down the hill, with more space for her family and animals. As of this writing, Char is almost completely moved in, which was a major endeavor! Congratulations!

The weather and surroundings were much more tropical and very different from Medina del Campo and Madrid.  Malaga is popular with British and other Euro country ex-pats to settle for their retirement years. It's very pleasant, great climate and near the Ocean.

Char, thank you so much for all that you do! If you'd like to help Char and her family with their galgo rescue efforts.  Please visit her website for further information:  
http://112carlotagalgos.com/how-to-help-2/. We plan to spend one of our days visiting and helping during our upcoming May/June trip. Can't wait to see everyone again and the new finca!
Char's Gorgeous Galgo Rescues

"Sometimes... It Don't Come Easy...", Bringing Four Galgos Home to the U.S.A.
I have brought several Scooby dogs back to the U.S.A. from Spain over the four years that I've been volunteering and had very few complications.  But this time, we ran into issues that forced us to reroute our trip. :-(

We arrived at the Madrid Airport five hours in advance to prepare for the long journey home to California via JFK in New York. Simonetta, super-star Scooby staff, brought four dogs to the airport for transit. We loaded their crates onto carts and brought them to the American Airlines ticket counter. Simonetta parked the Scooby van and came in to help us get the dogs through security and onto the flight.

I would like to take this time to acknowledge how wonderful Simonetta is. She single-handedly brings most of the dogs to the Madrid Airport so that volunteers can fly them to their forever homes in various countries. She also works on the transports that bring the dogs to locations all over Europe.  She always has a positive attitude, helps everyone, and is an astounding person for all that she does. Thank you so much, Simonetta! What would we do without you? You are beautiful inside and out. :-)
The Lovely Simonetta - Beautiful Inside and Out
As it turned out, the four galgos for transit were: Cuco - my beloved, Calisto - Mr. Shy who desperately needed to get out of the shelter, Roco - spoken for and bound for Vancouver, B.C.., and our mystery guest, Bond, bound for a foster home in NYC.  We tried to check in the dogs, but American Airlines gave us a great big hassle, telling us that the temperatures at JFK in New York were below their acceptable threshold, and we could not bring them. As you can imagine, our hearts sank...  Simonetta tried to convince them that the galgos could make the trip.  We even had letters indicating that they live in sub-zero Fahrenheit weather, and can endure low temperatures. But to no avail. She is Italian, fluent in Spanish and is usually able to break through the "red tape" at the airport, but this time, there was no convincing them. It was very frustrating, and we knew we had to think of some alternatives. Now what to do?

American suggested that there was an Iberian flight going to Miami, FL, that could work. It was to leave in about 1.5 hours.  We had to pay more for changing our tickets and the second leg of the flight to SFO for the dogs, but temps were permissible. We decided on that option and to take all four dogs, not actually knowing where Roco and Bond were destined to go at that time. Our decision: everyone is coming to California or bust! 

We did the long trip across "the pond" to Miami, and it was a good flight. At the Miami airport, the folks for hire in the baggage claim area saved the day. They took all four dogs and our bags, and then escorted us on the fast track through Customs. They helped load the dogs onto the next flight to SFO. It was worth every penny of the generous tip we gave them for their help!

Once the dogs were safely loaded onto the Miami to SFO flight, we were able to get to our gate for a brief break and even grab a snack before boarding. When you know that everything is set for the second leg of the trip and the dogs are on board and safe, it feels SO good. :-)

We arrived in San Francisco in the evening, around 8 p.m. My husband, Darrell, picked up the tired crew with our SUV. He disassembled the crates, and we all loaded in for the drive to Mora's condo.  They were all great during the drive, resting in the back, and Roco cuddled in my lap.  Once there, we tried to make them comfortable, but Mora was up all night with the dogs while I took a few hours of sleep. She has such a beautiful place and was so gracious about having the dogs there, but to be honest, they pooped and peed all over the place because they had been pent up so long without potty breaks and they were so nervous.  It was a wild night, but we got through it! ;-)

California Galgos in Happy Homes
The next day, Darrell and I drove up to King's Kastle in Windsor, CA, to the greyhound/galgo adoption sanctuary.  You will not believe it, but my worst nightmare came true! Cuco and Calisto bolted out of our SUV when we opened the hatchback, right onto the old highway!  :-( I ran after them, stopped traffic, and with the help of King's Kastle staff, was able to get both on leash and to safety. Cannot tell you how horrible it felt to think that we brought them all that way to think that they could have been hit ... Thank God!

Now on to what happened with these precious galgos, thanks to Greyhound Friends for Life:
Cuco in his Forever Home in SFO
Cuco was adopted  by a couple and is living the dream life in San Francisco. Hope to visit him soon!

Calisto (right) is a very Happy Boy in his Foster Home near Sacramento, California
Calisto is in a perfect and loving foster home near Sacramento, and has a wonderful life. His foster parents will keep him until he gets to his forever home.
Roco - Everyone Fell in Love with Him. I love this photo from his new Mum & Dad in Vancouver.
Roco is a puppy whom we all fell in love with. Thanks to GFFL Leader, Barbara Judson, for driving him to meet up with his new Canadian parents, he is living the big life in Vancouver.
Bond (left) on a walk at King's Kastle. He's bound for a foster home in Berkeley, California.
Bond, our mystery surprise guest who was supposed to go to a foster home in New York, became a Californian instead. He is SO handsome and special. But he still very afraid of people.(God only knows what he has endured.)  He's still at King's Kastle, but he will be in a foster home soon. He's going to be one special pet when he gets past his fear. 

Upcoming Trip To Scooby in May/June
That is the story for now. I will have so much more to share with you in the coming months, after my upcoming visit to Germany and Spain in May/June.  Cannot tell you how happy I am to be returning to Germany to visit Marie, and then to Spain to meet Mora, volunteer at Scooby, and bring back more precious dogs for adoption in the U.S.A. It truly is my passion! 

This trip will be extraordinarily special. I will see Marie, her Scooby adoption dog, Abba, and her new Spanish rescue, Lucy. I will meet up with Mora in Madrid. We will drive to Medina del Campo to meet up with Scoobettes and friends from the UK and Holland, Melissa, Jacque, Lucinda and Debbie, all friends whom I've met over the past four years that I've been volunteering. God willing, we will bring 2-3 dogs back to New York and two to be adopted in California. Still working out the details.

Please stay tuned for updates.

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!
Please support Scooby and Greyhound Friends for Life!
Know an organization that will donate dog food? Please let me know.