Thursday, November 17, 2016

Spring Fling 2016 - Celebrating My 11th Visit to Scooby

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:21

In April, I celebrated my 11th volunteer visit to Scooby in Medina del Campo, Spain.  Two friends joined me on this trip, Mora Gozani and Nancy Young Hanson. We all met in Madrid and then drove to the sanctuary. Here's the story of our travels!
Scooby Galgos in the Paddock Enjoying the Spring Sunshine

Hola, Galgos!
You are the Reason that I Love this Special Place

First Stop: Germany to Visit Marie

Once again, I was able to make my first stop in Aachen, Germany, to visit my Scooby friend, Marie for two days.  We had a special time, as always. Marie and friend, Julie, cooked me one of the best-ever traditional German dinners the first evening.  The next day, we visited the Eifel and went for a hike in the hills and along the river. We were on a trail that led to a quaint village with a huge castle. Our reward for a challenging uphill walk back was to stop at the church, which has a cafe that serves famous and delicious pea soup. They also took me to the storybook village of Monschau, where the best mustard in the World is made. Of course, I bought another crock to bring back home. It was a short visit, but rich and fulfilling being able to spend time with Marie, who always teaches me new things and is one of the very best people that I know. Thank you, Marie!

Marie with Abba and Lucy (Aachen, DE)
A Very Nice Hike at the Eifel in Germany.
Delicious Pea Soup Afterward.
Looking at the Village from the Castle (Eifel, DE)

 A Storybook Town Where They Make the Best Mustard in the World (Monschau, DE)

Next Stop: Madrid

Met Nancy and Mora at the airport. We loaded up the car and headed out.  It was so much fun to finally meet Nancy in person. (We're Scooby Facebook friends.) We all got on so well and had so much to talk about.  

Detour: Madrid Shelter Visit

We took a detour to a place that my friend, Helena ZaloƱa Laguna showed me last year, when I was stuck in Madrid for three extra days due to issues with KLM airlines. That place is the Madrid Animal Shelter.  Helena was away on vacation and could not meet us there, but she set everything up so that they knew we would be visiting and had a tour guide that spoke English ready to greet us.  The facility is so well taken care of and has many regular volunteers. They love each and every animal and treat them as someone special. I am very proud of these folks and the work that they do. Helene is a big part of this. Thank you, Helene, staff and volunteers at the shelter! 

Next Stop: Medina del Campo and Scooby

After the shelter visit, we drove to Medina del Campo, stopping along the way to have a meal at a small restaurant along the freeway. These little hole-in-the-wall places have some of the best food. We all enjoyed our meals, and then it was on to the hotel to check in. We stayed in the Hotel Reina Isabel again, which is perfectly located, inexpensive, impeccably clean and has a warm and loving staff who always treat us well.  

Once we were checked in and freshened up, made our way over to Scooby. To me, it's always like a dream when you drive up, do the turnaround at the potato chip factory, see the tiny Scooby sign, drive the dirt road leading to the entrance, and then, "Ta da" you see all of the familiar sights, hear the dogs barking, roosters crowing, donkeys hee-hawing, horses whinnying, cats meowing, birds singing and the Spanish breezes blowing. Feels like home. 
Love this! Two Galgos and a Podenco Spy Hopping

Nancy Young Hanson
Scooby Facebook Friends for Years.
We Finally Got to Work Together at Scooby!

Mora is in Heaven Giving Love and Pets to A Gaggle of Galgos 

My Love: Liviana 

When we arrived at Scooby on Sunday, we were catching up on things with Melissa Beamish, and we heard the buzzer ring at the entrance gate. A galguero wanted to leave two galgos (male and female), but Scooby isn't staffed to take in animals on Sundays, so he was asked to return on Monday. He did return and surrendered the two lovelies.  I fell head over heels for the white and black galga, named Liviana.  He said that she was deaf, and I was so worried about her being in the shelter with so many dogs and not being able to get the audio queues from the other dogs (barking and growling). I took lots of photos of her and posted that evening. By the time I awoke in the morning, the Slovenian rescue group was inquiring about her and was certain that they would take her for adoption right way. Happy story: Livi lives in Slovenia with her Mum Eva, who adores her. She has a fantastic life with people who love her, and I'm over-the-moon happy for all of them. Eva sends me videos and photos of Livi from time to time, and my heart soars to know that she is so loved.

Liviana - I Love You and Wanted to Take You Home - Adopted!
You Now Have the Best Life in the World with Eva in Slovenia. 
There were dozens and dozens of galgos and mixed breed dogs as well.  I think probably the most galgos I've ever seen during a visit, which is heavenly to me.  We worked together every day to clean paddocks and socialize the dogs. It was fun having two friends to share the workload, talk and fall in love with the dogs in every paddock and kennel. 

Nancy was looking to adopt another galga, so we all enjoyed helping her figure out which would be her girl. She and Kiva selected each other, but the surprise is that another girl that she was partial to, Laila, also came to the U.S.A. and Nancy and Doug adopted her too! So now, Nancy has three Scooby galgas and one greyhound. Happy family!
We Bought Bags of Apple to Feed the Precious Donkeys

I'm So Very Frightened, But I Know Things Will Get Better
We Are 3 Very Frightened Galgos, But We Are Learning to Trust
Julietta and Leonardo

We met the two Scooby galgos that we would be bringing back to the U.S.A. for adoption through Greyhound Friends for Life, Julietta and Leonardo, two black and white beauties. They both were so gentle and loving. We spent a lot of time in their kennel getting to know them, taking photos and videos to share back home.  Once they arrived, both were in a foster home within 24 hours and now both have been in their forever homes for several months. So happy for them. Thank you to Greyhound Friends for Life and Barbara for this partnership with Scooby!
The Lovely Miss Julietta, So Affectionate - Adopted! 
Leonardo is Such a Sweet and Loving Galgo - Adopted!
The Castle

Nancy had never been to the Castle in Medina del Campo, so we made a visit. Always impressive and one of the best preserved I've ever seen.
Castillo de la Mota - A Must See - You Can See it from the Scooby Sanctuary

Next Stop: Back to Madrid
Madrid is One of My Favorite Cities

We left Scooby and spent three nights in Madrid. Had a fantastic time. Walked about, shopped, visited the art museum, saw a fabulous Flamenco show, ate great food and went to the gigantic flea market on Sunday. Nancy is very adventurous and introduced us to many new places, including a tiny little goldmine restaurant called, Takos Al Pastor. Food was delicious, inexpensive and the line forms outside the door every day before it opens. She also found a place that sells some of the very best caramels that I've ever tasted. Thank you, Nancy! 

Highly Recommend Attending a Flamenco Show - Fabulous!

We Had So Much Fun in Madrid - Great Weather Too!

Tapas! Mora and Nancy Tried the Snails.
No Way for Me. ;-p

Next Stop: San Francisco via Dallas-Fort Worth

We set out very early on our journey home.  Nancy was heading back to Pittsburgh via Chicago, and transported four dogs. Mora and I also took four dogs to San Francisco, two for Greyhound Friends for Life and two for Hound Sanctuary, which came from two other Spanish shelters.  We had a nice meet-up with the folks who brought the dogs to us at the airport, Frank from Scooby and the other volunteers from the other organizations.  

Things went smoothly in Madrid, we said our goodbyes and were off.  Mora and I traveled through DFW. Once again, it was a nail-biter at the airport, as we only had a short time between flights and they took such a long time to get the dogs out to us. We still had to clear through Customs and then TSA.  We were stressing, running and sweating the entire way. In the end, we made it to our connection with about 5 minutes to spare to load the dogs onto the plane and we were off.  Once we arrived at SFO, my husband, Darrell, and another volunteer greeted us to pick up the dogs.  We all headed out for home. Julietta and Leonardo spent the night with us and were picked up the next morning to go to their foster home. Mora, thank you for all of your help and support! 

Madrid Airport - 4 Lucky Dogs Coming the U.S.A.

Great People Brought the Dogs to Us at the Madrid Airport.
They Patiently Waited for a Couple of Hours Before We Could Board.
It was another pleasant adventure. I never know what's going to happen on these trips, but it always ends up being good in the end. Recently attended our Greyhound Friends for Life reunion and had the pleasure of seeing four Scooby galgos there. Everyone loves these dogs and they have such rich and wonderful lives here. It's a very rewarding volunteer effort, which I'm honored to be able to do.  Thanks to everyone involved for your support. We could not do this without you.

Next Trip: Leaving Friday, 11/18

I'm Scooby bound tomorrow morning. This is trip #12. Will be traveling solo this time. Flying in, taking the train and staying at the shelter.  Looking forward to seeing and meeting the staff, volunteers and all of the animals.  Very excited and always introspective before I go. Will share loads of photos and videos during and after my trip. Can't wait to return!

Hasta Luego! Thank you for reading my blog. Bless sends her blessings! Sara sends smiles! 
Our gorgeous Galga, Bless!
Our gorgeous Galga, Sara!
Please support Scooby and Greyhound Friends for Life
Traveling to Spain? Consider becoming a Flight Angel and transporting dogs to the U.S.A. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Goodbye Wilma - Our Greyhound Girl

Saying, "Goodbye" to Our Greyhound Wilma
Wilma Gives a Wink
"Now I know I have a heart 'cause it's breaking."  The Tin Man, Wizard of Oz

It is with deepest sorrow that I share the news that we've lost Wilma, our beloved greyhound whom we adopted almost six years ago from Greyhound Friends for Life (GFFL), We loved her so very much, and lost her to osteosarcoma on June 23. She was only 8 1/2 years old, and we hoped that we'd have her much longer. This is a tribute to Wilma - her story.

We lost our first precious greyhound, Daisy to osteosarcoma six years ago. We knew that the void left would be heartbreaking and decided to adopt another greyhound right away. We looked at the GFFL website and I picked out this silly black and white girl who seemed so full of life, and her name was Wilma.  We called to inquire about her and were able to reserve and adopt her.  We drove to Auburn, California, to pick her up and bring her to her new forever home. 
This is one of Wilma's Adoption Photos
It was so interesting to observe her when she first stepped into our home.  She looked at everything, from floor to ceiling -- all of the pictures on the wall and even watched the television.  She was so very intelligent and inquisitive.  She was very young and therefore, there were some shenanigans. She counter surfed and broke a very expensive glass fruit bowl, chewed up the arm rests of our outdoor patio furniture and even fell into our swimming pool twice, before she learned to navigate our back yard. Overall, she adjusted very well very quickly. 

Over the years, she assumed the alpha role. She was so silly and funny that it was kind of hard to believe that she could be the alpha. But she was the perfect one to lead her pack, Jake, Bless and Sara.  She was kind and fair. She never had a mean bone in her body. She was pure love.  She loved me and my husband, her pack and pretty much everyone. Wilma was the consummate social butterfly.  She attended greyhound reunions where she made everyone laugh when she stopped at every stop along the way on the obstacle courses and ran backward after running half-way on the race run challenges and had to be pulled out of the fencing. I took her to many, "Bark in the Park" events and parties, where she was truly the Belle of the Ball.  Everyone loved her. She gave sugar kisses, wanted to meet everyone and got along with any and all other dogs, no matter what breed. She loved everyone.
Wilma and Bless in Their Favorite Place... Our Bed
I loved her beautiful eyes, her sweet little greyhound snout, her black and white tuxedo coat, her delicate lady nails and her bunny soft fur. She truly stood out of the crowd in so many ways.  She loved to sleep with us in our bed. She was a snuggle bug and always wanted to get under the blankets and then would settle in to "spoon" next to us.  She would let out the loudest sighs of joy when she settled in to sleep. Wilma grunted with pleasure when you itched her ears and rolled over to roach to show her belly so that we would rub it. In her daily routine, she would always be the first out the patio door to bark at the squirrels and run around our pool counterclockwise (her race track). She would boss Jake around because he was sillier than she was. She would also lead roos and pack howls on a daily basis, particularly in the last month or so.  
Wilma was One in a Million
In late November 2015, I noticed that she was favoring her right front paw. It became more pronounced by January 2016, so I made an appointment with the vet.  They checked her over thoroughly and did X-rays, but they didn't find anything and thought that she had pulled muscles in her shoulder.  Then, when I returned from my trip to Scooby in early May, I noticed that she was not doing better, but rather limping more. Took her back into the vet and they still could not find anything.  She was on anti-inflammatory and pain meds. Three weeks later, she was worse. I had been through osteosarcoma before and just knew in my heart that she probably had it.  This time, our vet visit confirmed that the X-rays revealed osteo in her shoulder.  There were some drastic and expensive options, but my husband and I decided a long time ago, after going through this with Daisy that pain management and quality are the best ways to proceed, and when the time comes, we must let them go. 
Sara and Wilma Relaxing
Our family and friends were so supportive through this trying time.  Some amazing things happened. First, a Facebook friend reached out to me to offer advice regarding natural cancer cures that I know helped Wilma live a few more days and improved the quality of her time. She also gave me lots of tips regarding recipes that helped Wilma maintain without wasting away. Another Facebook friend surprised me with beautiful digital art framed photos and greeting cards with Wilma's images. And my Scooby partner and dear friend, Mora came to visit us every week to hug and kiss Wilma. I was truly overwhelmed by their caring and generosity! Who does these kinds of things these days? Truly amazing!
Digital Artwork from an Angel Friend, Gwen :-)
For the last three weeks, I was with Wilma almost 24x7, with some sanity breaks in between for dinner and phone meetings for work. Fortunately, my manager allowed me to work from home to be with her.

Over time, Wilma became picky about eating, and then stopped eating altogether the last day.  The pain increased to the point where we gave her meds every 2-3 hours at the end. She would have a rally of a few good days and then one or two bad days, where she declined -- peaks and valleys.  Although I hated to think about it, I had a date set in my mind to make the decision about scheduling the appointment to let her go.  This is a defining moment, one of the most difficult decisions of our lives.  When she got to the point where she sobbed to herself in pain, I knew that it was time. She told me.  I made the call to schedule that dreaded event.  One of my dear friends had suggested that we might want to call a mobile vet instead of taking her into the vet's office. After I thought about it, I decided that it was the best way for all of us.  My regular vet recommended someone. I called him and made the arrangements. 

On her last night, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, sitting on the floor, kissing, hugging and petting her, telling Wilma her story, and how much we loved her. My husband had the chance to spend time with her too. We both spent her last day here loving her.  My dear friend, Mora, came over in the evening to visit with her one last time. It really helped so much to have her here before we had to let her go.  Then the vet called and said that he'd be at our house in about 45 minutes, around 8 p.m. Mora left and we spent those few moments laying with her and telling her how much we loved her and would miss her.  
The vet arrived on time. He was so great; relaxed, casual, very caring and sensitive.  He made us feel comfortable, and sat on the floor with all of us just like family. He took things one step at a time with us as we were ready, explained the process and asked for our permission along the way.  In the end, I would not have it any other way than to have had him come to our home to have him release Wilma from her pain.  After she was gone, he went outside so that we could let Bless, Jake and Sara in to be with her so that they would know. He then came back in. He and my husband took our girl out to his car and he took her for cremation.  Her ashes will be spread in the redwood forest in the Santa Cruz mountains, nearby. We will also have a plaque with her paw print to honor her memory.

I cried so many, many, many tears throughout this entire time. At times, I felt like my head was going to explode with grief. It's like being on an emotional roller coaster that you can't get off. Every day you worry about your loved one and feel the ups and downs. You have hope and then you don't have any hope at all.  Two days have passed since her passing and I'm feeling more and more at peace. We gave Wilma all of the love and great life that she deserved. She gave us so much love and joy in return. She was one very special greyhound and we shall miss her forever and ever.

Rest well, Wilma Easter. You are loved forever and ever! 

Thank you for reading my blog!

Please support Greyhound Friends for Life.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Scooby Visit, Winter 2015 - This Place is So Special!

The Beauty of this Scooby Galgo is as Stunning at the Spanish Sky

Right Back In Love Again!
In November, 2015, I made my 10th visit to Scooby Medina del Campo to volunteer, and to bring two galgos to California for adoption through Greyhound Friends for Life. This visit was better than ever in so many ways, but I also faced the most difficult journey yet bringing back the two dogs, all because of KLM airlines. 

Coat Donated from Slovenia - Absolutely Regal!

The Journey to Scooby
This time, flew KLM airlines from San Francisco to Amsterdam. Easy flight with excellent service. Then on from Amsterdam to Madrid, arriving in the afternoon. Had booked a hotel to stay overnight in Madrid to rest up and get my supplies for Scooby, prior to boarding the train the next day.  
San Francisco -> Amsterdam -> Madrid
Spent the First Night in Madrid - Such a Cool City!
Always Enjoy My Time There.
Took a nap and then headed out for a walk-about in Madrid, seeking a nice place for dinner. Went to one of my familiars and had a delicious local dish. Returned to the hotel to rest up for the trip to Scooby. The next morning, awoke with the sunrise and sought a Mercado, where I could purchase my food and beverage supplies to last the week at Scooby, since I would be taking the train, staying at the dorm and not going into Medina.  It was Sunday, so most of the local markets wouldn't open until 11 a.m. or Noon, walked around and luckily found a hybrid type market with take-away food, groceries and even a restaurant. Was able to purchase everything needed (along with a few supplies from the USA that I had brought). Prices in Spain are always reasonable. I was set for the week.  

Checked out of the hotel and headed for the Chamartin train station to get to Medina del Campo.  Ate some lunch at the train station. Enjoyed watching the chess players who are there every Sunday, playing matches. Finally, it was time to board the train. 

I've noticed that Spain is much better about security in transit centers than we are in the USA. Everyone's baggage is scanned and tickets verified, prior to boarding the train.  As we embarked, an announcement came, "We will be serving lunch and dinner and showing two movies."  What? The trip to Medina del Campo only takes about one hour. I panicked, thinking that I must have boarded the wrong train. When I checked, the final destination for this particular train was just north of Portugal, in the northwest part of Spain. Heart in throat, grabbed my essentials and headed for the food car, where I was able to clarify with the staff that I was on the correct train.  Can't tell you how relieved I was to see the Castillo de la Mota and Medina del Campo. From there, I caught a taxi to Scooby, which is only about 2 miles away from the train station. 

There is something that rests my soul when I see the Scooby grounds, smelling the pleasantries of the potato chip factory, seeing the Scooby sign, driving up the driveway, seeing the first sights of the animals, hearing the barking, and then seeing the great people who work and volunteer. There are no words to describe how much I feel at home and at peace. It is truly soulful.
Before I left, I recorded a video to show you what it's like. Hope you enjoy it!

Scooby in 11 Minutes

Scooby in 11 Minutes - What It's Like to be at Scooby :-)

Took the Train in from Madrid and Stayed in the Scooby Dorm. Very Cozy and Comfortable.
Many Serenades from the Dogs During the Day and Night ;-)

Being There
Stayed in the Scooby dorm this time. Had it all to myself. It was comfy and cozy. Only thing you have to get used to are the daily and nightly serenades from the dogs, their barking, growling, crying and restlessness. The dorm is wall to wall with the quarantine kennels. Ear plugs and ear phones may be used as necessary. ;-) After a short time, I always get used to it, and it becomes part of the complete immersion experience that one will never, ever forget. I actually miss it and dream about it after I leave.

Once you arrive, you are in another World and on Scooby time, which is quite interesting because it goes by all-too quickly, but at the same time, seems like it will never end. The first day, I generally go around to meet the staff, volunteers and animals, and then learn from the staff how best to help with assigned chores. It seems that there is never enough time to spend with each and every dog, but it all counts with them.
I Fall in Love so Easily... I'm a Sucker for the Galgos!
Enjoying a Visit and Clean-up with the
Paddock 1 Galgos
Who Could Resist This Galgo Puppy?
Scooby Icon,  Old Amelia, Still Loves to Sun on the Patio.
She Truly is More Loving than Ever These Days.

Scooby Attracts Many Beautiful Souls
I have met some of the best and most lovely people at Scooby over the past five years. They are selfless souls who truly care about animal welfare and are making a huge difference with their efforts.  It is amazing to me that we all come together across the World to help with this worthy cause. We are all different, yet have so many things in common - mainly, our love for the animals. It makes my soul richer to know these people, and I thank all of the volunteers who give of themselves so unselfishly to help: Spain, Italy, Holland, Germany, France, Slovenia, UK, USA and any country that I may not have mentioned. So proud to know you all!

On this visit, I had the chance to work with volunteers Ana (Spain), Melissa and Veronica (UK), and Frank (Holland), as well as the superb Scooby staff, which includes Fermin (Scooby Founder and President), Pablo (manages Scooby), Simonetta (does so many things, I can't begin to list), Nilcelio and Marcus (cleaning, food and many other things) and others who work tirelessly to take care of the animals and facilities.

Why are the Dogs Barking?
Because this Galga Decided to Climb Out of Her Kennel and Jump on the Roof.
Pablo to the Rescue!
Ana (Spanish Volunteer) and Melissa (UK Volunteer)
Discuss the Status of the Oldies that Reside in the Scooby Garden
Veronica (Volunteer Veterinarian from the UK) Checks in on the Oldies

The Saddest Dog at Scooby Finds Happiness

When I first saw this young boy in the quarantine, he was desperate for attention. Screamed very loudly in mental anguish, to the point where I just had to spend time with him. He was so sad... matted worse than any animal I had ever seen, dirty, nails way too long and the poor soul has a defect where he walks on his pads and not on his complete feet, which I understand is very painful.  I pointed out this dog to Fermin, and he asked me and the others to make sure that he was groomed and his nails cut. Now I just needed someone to help...

Enter Frank (Holland Volunteer). I found him cuddling this dog in his kennel and recruited him to help me. Frank located grooming tools and we worked on this dog for several hours, over two days.  Veronica (Volunteer Vet) trimmed his nails. He looked so handsome and much more comfortable, proud and confident after our efforts. The happy story of this dog is that he was fostered by Fermin for a while, but now is in Holland, likely in a loving home at this time!

This Dog was Extremely Neglected :-(

The Poor Soul had the Most Horribly Matted Fur and Nails that had
 Never Been Cut :-(

Frank (Holland Volunteer) and I Gave Him a Make-over.
It Took Several Hours.
Here's the Dear Boy After His Make-over
The Saddest Dog Becomes the Happiest. :-)
He Now Lives in Holland.
Podenco Love!
Scooby now has more Podencos than ever, and I'm loving it! They are so much fun - very curious and affectionate.  Here are some fun peek-a-boo photos from Paddocks 1 & 2.

This Dear Old Grandma Podenco Loved the Sun and Sleeping in the Oldies Garden. She Reminded me of Yoda from Star Wars ;-)

Bringing Stewie and Guelo to the USA
Months prior to my trip to Scooby, our Greyhound Friends for Life group had contacted me to ask if I could possibly bring back a puppy, Stewie, to his adoption home in Berkeley, California. We worked out the details with the Scooby staff, had some drama with getting the carrier, but it all came together.  Here is Stewie's story:

Stewie is a mix, Galgo and likely German Shepherd.  He and his brother, Peter were found in a gypsy camp, thrown away in a garbage bag with their two Galgo sisters and two other puppies. :-( Two of the puppies died, but the two sisters were adopted via Scooby. Stewie is in California and Peter, his brother, is now in Germany.  At least four of these precious ones went into happy homes. I am very sad for the other two...

Stewie Was Adopted by Jack & Greg from Berkeley California.
I Brought Him to His Forever Home and Fell in Love with Him.
Stewie is Smart, Loving and a True Companion Dog.
He is a Galgo Mix.
Stewie and His Brother Peter.
Stewie lives in Berkeley California.
Peter is now Living in Germany.
Meet Guelo. He's a very sleek and handsome boy who came from the Madrid Shelter via Scooby.  He had been in the shelter for quite a long time, so the volunteers were delighted to see him get adopted in the USA. I had the chance to get to know him a bit. He was a bit skittish and shy, but curious.  I believe that he will learn to trust and become the perfect pet.
Handsome Guelo
KLM Airlines - I Will Never, Ever Fly Your Airline With Pets Again
This was the most difficult journey back to California from Madrid ever with the two dogs, Stewie and Guelo.  I specifically chose KLM airlines because, a) everyone said that they were so great about transporting animals, and b) I knew that they would fly them to the USA, even though it was Winter and the temps were low. How could anything go wrong?

Well, it ended up being a huge drama trying to fly the dogs to California. It all started when I arrived at 3:30 a.m. at the Madrid airport for my return flight via Amsterdam to San Francisco. Helena, the kind Scooby volunteer, and two other volunteers, came with the two dogs around 3:45 a.m. We then waited for the KLM Customer Service desk to open. When the KLM Manager opened the counter, we were first in line. I handed her all of the paperwork that we normally provide: Spanish passport, rabies certificate, certificate to travel in various temperatures, other vaccinations. She reviewed everything and then, much to our dismay, kept shaking her head and saying that we did not have the proper paperwork. Huh?

We had more than enough of the paperwork that the other airlines had required, yet she pulled out some sort of rule book and kept pointing to a statement that said that we needed yet another health certificate, a "green" paper, and that the dogs could not fly without it. I explained that the rabies and health information was in the passport and that no other airline had required this, but she stood her ground and ultimately said, "You can board the flight, but the dogs cannot without this paperwork." I appealed to her for assistance. Told her that I had paid extra to fly on KLM to fly the dogs. She took a hard line with me. I said to her, "I need you to help me. I am in a foreign country, trying to rescue two dogs who are going to homes in the USA. I paid extra to do this. Please help me." She did not answer and walked away from me...

Of course, I was furious, but very determined to work around the issue. Called Delta (partner airline through which I had booked my flights) to see what could be done. Their solution was to rebook me three days later on the same flight, but I had to have clearance to take the dogs, thus the three day wait. We also had to weigh and measure the dogs in the carriers (yet again), which was a huge hassle. They did not make this easy, and they did not try to help us at all. I wasn't sure what to do. Should we send the dogs back to Scooby and I would go back to Madrid to stay? Should I go back to Scooby with the dogs? Then Helena kindly offered to have me and the dogs stay at her downstairs apartment about 30 minutes outside of Madrid in Guadalix de la Sierra.

Thank God for Helena (far right)!
KLM Would not Allow the Dogs to Fly Out of Madrid to Amsterdam and Demanded Some New Paperwork.
As a Result, We Spent Three Extra Days in Spain, and Helena Let Us Stay with Her.
This is the Paper that KLM Insisted on Having for Transporting Each Dog.
Helena Took Care of this with the Veterinarians at the Madrid Shelter.
It Repeats What is Already in their Spanish Passports, and Costs 20 Euro per Document.
I had Never Heard of this Requirement from any other Airline.
There are Great and Kind People in this World
Thank God for Helena! Eventually, I was able to rebook my flight with the dogs and we returned to her place to have a restful nap. Her downstairs apartment was wonderful. When all of us awoke, she took me to the grocery store for supplies, and later she took me on a tour of the Madrid shelter. It was lovely! Guelo had come from here, so he was considered a rock star for winning the lottery and getting a home in California! :-) The facilities are impressive. The volunteers are magnificent. The animals are treated royally. Each and every animal is treated so well!

An Angel?  During my stay with Helena, she also took me and Stewie on a hike in the mountains nearby. When she was at work (she's a helicopter pilot for the Spanish military), Stewie and I took a long walk to explore downtown Guadalix. She worked with the Madrid shelter Vets to get us the "green" health certificate that KLM required, paid the 20 Euro each for the dogs, and even drove me to the Madrid airport the night before we were to leave to make sure that we had all of the required paperwork. Once there, I paid for the transport of the two dogs as well. We should have been all set for the early morning flight the next day. Right?

Volunteer, Helena, Let Me Stay in Her Downstairs Apartment for Three Days.
She Didn't Even Know Me, but Opened Her Home and Heart to Help Me, Stewie and Guelo
While We Waited for Flight Clearance on KLM.
Helena's Downstairs Apartment was very Nice and Comfortable, with Gorgeous Views
Stewie was My Bunk Mate for 3 Days.
We had so Much Fun Exploring the Area with Helena!
Here's Stewie with Helena's Two Wonderful Dogs
Helena Took Us on a Hike at Parque Regional De La Cuenca Alta Del Manzanares: La Pedriza.
Beautiful Place and the Dogs Loved it!
Helena and Stewie!
He Crosses His First Bridge with a Little Help from a Friend.
Me and Stewie on Our Hike
Wild Donkeys in the Park
Downtown Guadalix.
Helena Said that a Famous Spanish Movie was Filmed Here.
A View of Guadalix on a Gorgeous Day

KLM Booking and Check-in Disaster - The Drama Continues
Even though we had gone to the Madrid airport the day ahead, paid and they had made copies of all of the dogs information and mine, I faced issues once again. We were first in line with Customer Service around 4:30 a.m. on the day of departure. Noticed that the rep was on the phone several times, so we knew something was wrong. Get this... after everything we went through, KLM only had one dog booked on my flight to Amsterdam and no dogs booked from Amsterdam to San Francisco.  Unbelievable!  The rep was able to get both dogs on the Madrid to Amsterdam flight, but there was no guarantee that the dogs would be accepted for the Amsterdam to SFO flight. I would not know until the KLM offices opened, which meant that I wouldn't know until my arrival in Amsterdam.

Lesson Learned: Don't Book Flights with Pets via a Partner Airline, such as Delta. They don't have the same policies and don't communicate with each other. A big fat mess! Go directly to the Airline that you are flying with.

Helena helped me get both dogs through Security clearance in Madrid. The dogs were taken to be boarded and I had to run to my gate as it was boarding. All seemed well for the Amsterdam flight. Arrived on time and was heading to my gate, knowing that I still was not certain whether the two dogs had been accepted for the flight from Amsterdam to SFO. As fate would have it, it was literally a mile from gate to gate and then my heart sank when I saw that there was a sea of people waiting to get through Immigration to get to the gates. During my wait in line, I called Delta to see if they had information regarding the approval for the dogs, but they did not know for certain. Got to my gate as they were boarding. Ground crew were very nice and were watching for the dogs to be boarded. Was in the last 10 people boarding, sweating it as to whether the dogs had been boarded, and finally, they did confirm. Nice flight to SFO. Great service, food, etc. All seemed well...

Once we arrived in San Francisco, I grabbed my bags and waited for the dogs. Waited and waited and waited -- for more than one hour. Inquired several times with angst regarding the two dogs. They could not find them! After much pacing and stress, they finally found them and the dogs were brought out. Loaded them onto the small luggage carts at the airport (no baggage handlers to help) and Guelo's larger-sized kennel kept falling off. I swear Guelo's fell off at least five times. It was truly a struggle all of the way. Had to get through Customs with the paperwork and then down two long hallways to get to where my Husband and the others were waiting for us. They could see me struggling via the airport cameras, but because of security, could not come to help. It was such a relief to see loving, happy faces once we got through security! We all hugged, and then we handed off the dogs.

Hallelujah! It all worked out! Determination and persistence truly pays off. Both Stewie and Guelo are now in their loving forever homes, and it was worth every single second to get them where they belong.

After all of this, I lodged formal complaints with KLM, the FTA, via Social Media and via their surveys. KLM did nothing to help or address the issues. I will not fly this airline in the future unless absolutely necessary, particularly with pets that are being transported. While their flights and crew are superb, their ticketing, booking and ground crews in various airports are a complete disaster with regard to customer service for animals. Perhaps they need training? Their gesture was to respond to me with a form letter, which had incorrect information. They never have offered to do anything to try to mend their mishaps. Very disappointing that they do not care - at all...

Guelo's "Happily Ever After"
Guelo was fostered by our Greyhound rescue group President, and was just recently adopted into his forever home. The great news is that Guelo, Stewie and every single Scooby dog that I've brought back over the past five years has been adopted into a loving, forever home. :-)
Guelo is Ready for His Long Journey to His Forever Home in California
This is Guelo Running in the Back Yard at his Foster Home in California.
Here he is with Bond, Another Scooby Rescue Adopted by
Greyhound Friends for Life President, Barbara Judson.
Guelo has been Adopted and is now in his Forever Home. :-)

Stewie's "Happily Ever After"
Stewie is now in his forever home in Berkeley, California, living a great life with Jack and Greg. They often send me updates and photos. He is truly one special dog! So happy for him. 
Stewie - Ready for His Long Journey to His Forever Home in California
Recent Photos of Stewie.
Look How Big He is and So Very Handsome too!
It Was All Worth It!
Look How Happy He Is. :-)
Next Visit, April 2016
Next trip is booked! Traveling to Germany to visit Marie for a few days, and then on to Madrid to meet up with Mora and Nancy to travel to Scooby.  We'll spend a few days in Madrid and also plan to visit Char and 112 Carlota Galgos in Malaga on a day trip.  We will bring back two Scooby dogs for adoption via Greyhound Friends for Life: Leonardo and Julietta.  

Leonardo will be Available for Fostering and Adoption
Through Greyhound Friends for Life

Julietta will also be Available for Fostering and Adoption
Through Greyhound Friends for Life
We also plan to bring one or two dogs from a pererra for Hound Sanctuary, now based in Oregon. Stay tuned for more information.

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, Greyhound Friends for Life,  112 Carlota Galgos and Hound Sanctuary!

Know an organization that will donate dog food? Please let me know.