Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Scooby is in My Bones - My June 2017 Visit to Spain

Meet Huesos (Bones) - We Fell In Love and He's Coming Home with Me In September 
Visit #13
I returned to my favorite animal shelter, Scooby Medina del Campo, in Spain in June 2017 to volunteer and to bring back two galgos for adoption through Greyhound Friends for Life, our San Francisco Bay Area rescue organization. This was my 13th visit to Scooby, and one of the very best volunteer trips I've ever experienced.

Nancy and Me - We Met at JFK in New York and Flew to Madrid Together.
Perfect Travel Companions!

Travel Companions on Another Adventure
Nancy, my Scooby buddy and fellow volunteer, traveled from Pittsburgh, and I flew from San Francisco.  We met at JFK in New York and flew to Madrid together. We had great seats at the back of the plane, where we could stretch out and chat to our hearts content -- which we certainly did! The trip seemed short because we always have so much to talk about.  

When we arrived, and during our entire trip, it was HOT.  It was in the 90's and 100's (Fahrenheit) every day. We picked up our bags and jumped into a cab to get to the Chamartin train station.  Once there, we bought our tickets and had a chance to grab a quick bite before our train arrived.  We were thoroughly enjoying our journey from Madrid to Medina del Campo (about a 90 minute trip), when suddenly, the train began to lose power.  I think that the extreme heat was the issue. The train started and stalled several times.  When they could not go forward any further, they backed up the train to a tiny village, Santa Maria de la Alameda, and asked everyone to disembark.  There was no one there to help any of us, so everyone headed up the hill and settled into a friendly little tapas restaurant for a cold drink and some food. We weren't sure what to do, so I texted Jacinta, who was visiting Scooby from Holland, and she kindly offered to make the hour drive to pick us up.  We all had a nice time traveling back to Scooby and getting to know each other a bit more.  Jacinta is truly a super hero to have come all of that way to help us. We can't thank her enough!

Santa Maria de la Alameda,
Teeny Tiny Station Where our Train Broke Down Because of the Intense Heat

Nancy and I Spent a Couple of Hours in the Local Tapas Bar Waiting for Jacinta to Rescue Us

We Saw El Escorial on the Way to Scooby - The Residence of the King of Spain - Most Impressive 
Nancy and I Stayed Two Nights at Hotel Reina Isabel in Medina del Campo and
The Rest of the Nights in the Comfy Scooby Dorm

We were super tired, so we opted to go straight to the hotel to check in, freshen up and take a nap.  We talked about meeting for dinner, but I was wiped out and decided to sleep until morning so that I'd be fresh for our first full day at Scooby. Nancy is an adventurer and decided to go into Medina to do a bit of exploring. We met early in the morning for coffee. Jacinta picked us up at the hotel, took us to the grocery store and then to Scooby, where we all stayed for the next several nights. 

There Were Storks Nesting On Two of the Churches in Medina.
They Must Have Been Hot up There on the Roof. It Was a Scorcher!
Melissa Introduced Me to Bones, and I Fell Head Over Heels for Him

Bones (Huesos)

When we arrived at Scooby, we settled our things at the Dorm, and then Melissa, super Scooby Volunteer, took us around to introduce us to the animals. She knew that I would fall in love with one particular galgo, named Bones (Huesos) who had been very sick with Leishmania, an illness that is not contagious and is spread via the Mediterranean sandfly.  He was so thin, and his kidneys had been impacted. He had been through one round of treatments, prior to my arrival, but the staff did not know whether he would survive. I took him for walks every day, fed him sausages, sat in his kennel and gave him pets and love.  He worked his charms on me!  I found it difficult to leave him, and thought about him all of the time after I left Scooby. Spoke with my husband to discuss adopting him, provided he was well enough to make the trip to California. We took it one step at a time. Scooby did more blood tests to see if he had improved. I asked my vet to review his results, and he felt certain that he could make the trip and that we can treat him here.  I so want to give him the very best life possible for however long or short his time will be.  He is a dear and sweet boy -- always wagging his tail, loves people, very mellow and easy going. I am traveling back to Scooby in mid-September for another visit, but primarily, to bring Bones home with me. I am so excited to give him a great new life.  I'll keep you posted regarding his status and progress. Bones is now on Instagram: BonesTheScoobyGalgo, if you want to follow him.  We'll be posting photo and video updates regularly.

Bones Will be Ours - Bringing Him Home to California in Late September

Bones is Absolutely Irresistible - All Joy and All Love

Volunteer Work and the Scooby Animals
One of the highlights of every day was when Nancy and I helped Melissa with taking care of the dogs who were in the infirmary.  We cleaned their pens, fed and watered them, took them for walks and showered them with treats. We really got attached to these dogs, and are happy to know that most of them are now in their forever homes.  

In addition, we spent lots of time cleaning kennels and paddocks and socializing dogs.  It's always such a pleasure to get to spend quality time with these lovely animals.

Every Day, Nancy and I Cleaned the Infirmary Kennels, Took the Dogs for
Walks and Spoiled Them with Sausages
Proud Momma with Her Brand New Puppies

Nancy and Melissa Enjoying a Visit with the Very Sweet Puppies 
Scooby Had So Many Adorable Puppies in June.
Many are Already in Homes.

It's a Pod Party! Aren't They Lovely?

It Was So Hot, Over 100 Degrees Fahrenheit.
The Dogs Rested Most of the Days and Were Active When the Sun was Setting.
Nancy with Two Lovely BIG and Friendly Dogs

Don't You Just Want to Hug Me?

These Galgos are Trying to Escape the Scorching Spanish Sun on This Very Hot Day 
Nancy Enjoying a Visit with a Gaggle of Galgos

Did I Win the Cutest Puppy Award?
Tick Prevention
Melissa asked me, Nancy, Jacinta and our other fellow volunteer, Shantal, if we could visit most of the paddocks to put tick prevention medicine on each dog.  What a great job! It meant that we had the chance to meet almost every single dog at Scooby.  Having four of us really helped. We worked together to catch the dogs and to apply the medication to every dog.  It's not easy catching the shy galgos, so we had to ask Melissa for help in some cases, as the dogs know and trust her.  It was a fun couple of days doing this very important work, as the ticks can be horrible in the Spanish Summer.

Jacinta Helps Round Up the Dogs for Their Tick Preventative.
She is our Super Hero. She Rescued Us from the Town Where Our Train Broke Down and
Gave us Rides to Town. Such a Kind Friend!

Chantal Pets the Galgos After We Wrangled
Them to Put Tick Preventa
tive on All

Only Melissa Could Catch Some of the Shy Galgos to Apply the Tick Preventative
Here's Sweet and Adorable Zuki.
She's Doing Great, Living with Fermin and is Very Happy!
Zuki Update
In my last blog entry, I mentioned meeting a lovely petite and sweet galga named Zuki. She had an infection that resulted in her losing her toes on both of her back paws. Fermin, Scooby Founder and President, adopted Zuki, and we had a chance to have a short visit with her while there.  She is doing so great and is very happy.  I brought her two new pairs of shoes, which I hope she's been able to use since my visit.

Transport to Holland
I always feel so lucky when I get to help the Scooby staff and volunteers with loading up the van to transport dogs and cats to their new forever homes.  On this visit, Nancy and I were able to help load up over 35 dogs and a cat for transport to Holland.  Since this was now a couple of months ago, my heart soars to know that these animals are in homes. This is why we do what we do! Scooby saves hundreds of animals each year and frankly, I don't know how they do it with such limited resources. But they do it, and I am so thankful that Scooby is there to help so many animals that would never have a chance at a decent life.
Transport to Holland Today!
Melissa, Chantal and Ana Discuss Which Dogs Will be Going.

Hoover, Ana and Chantal Load Up the Dogs for Holland
Ana Says Goodbye to the Scooby Dogs as They Head to Their Forever Homes in Holland

Visiting the Scooby Farm
It's become somewhat of a tradition for all of us to take a nice long walk out on the Scooby farm grounds, where we visit the ducks, geese, horses, donkeys, goats, sheep and perimeter guard dogs. On our last evening, we all enjoyed our visit to the farm. There was a cool breeze, and it was a great way to relax and celebrate another fun and rewarding volunteer visit.
On Our Last Evening, Nancy, Melissa, Jacinta, Chantal and I Took a Nice Walk
at the Scooby Farm to Visit the Pond and the Large Animals (Horses, Goats, Donkeys, Sheep)
Here's Donald, the Scooby Duck - Rejected by the Other Ducks, He Lives with the Goats :-(
Nancy and Chantal Visit a Friendly Scooby Donkey

Jacinta, Nancy, Chantal and Melissa - Visiting the Scooby Farm and the Perimeter Dogs
Tapas with Scooby Friends
Scooby staff and volunteers gathered on one of the evenings for a goodbye party for the vet, who was moving on to another position.  It's so much fun to experience the "real" Spain, with locals and friends who love to share stories and memories.
Goodbye Tapas Party for the Scooby Vet
Goodbye Dinner for the Scooby Vet.
Trevor, Melissa and Chantal Enjoy Some Tapas in Medina del Campo.

A Few Fun Hours in the Countryside and in Valladolid
Our friend, Sabine, lives in a small village about 40 minutes from Medina. We were fortunate to be able to spend time with her, visit with her dogs and cats, and see her lovely home.  She then took us to see part of the Camino de Santiago Trail, and then into Valladolid, to meet a friend. We only had about an hour before our train was to leave for Madrid, but they were able to take us to four tapas bars that had some of the most interesting food I've ever seen.  It was a short, but enjoyable visit. It was very kind of them to show us around their city.

Camino de Santiago Trail

Sabine and Nancy on the Camino de Santiago Trail

A Whirlwind Visit in Valladolid - Lovely City

Valladolid Had Some of the Most Interesting Tapas I've Ever Seen

A Few Fun Days in Madrid
Nancy always does a lot of research to learn about fun things to do while traveling. We had a blast and covered a lot of Madrid during our adventures.  Highlights: celebrated my birthday with some great eats, drinks and shoe shopping, visited the very cool rooftop bar at Circulo de Bellas Artes, went to the Sunday flea market, listened in on an excellent concert that we stumbled upon in one of the main squares, ate mushrooms, peppers and shrimp and drank cava and sherry at some specialty tapas restaurants, saw a flamenco show, and visited the museum of modern art.
Rooftop Bar in Madrid,
CĂ­rculo de Bellas Artes

Stumbled Upon an Orchestra on the Plaza 

The Gigantic and Fun Madrid Flea Market - Sundays

Figures at the Seaside, Pablo Picasso

Sipping Sherry at La Venencia - A Must Visit

Pride Celebration in Madrid

The Beautiful Madrid Skyline

Dante and Azafran
Two Scooby galgos, Dante and Azafran, made the trip back to California with me, and thanks to Greyhound Friends for Life, they are in their forever homes.  Our journey from Madrid was not without the usual airline drama.  When I arrived to check them in with American Airlines, they said that the plane that was to take us from JFK to San Francisco was not large enough for the dog crates. The Madrid rep spent an hour with me, trying to find an alternative route. Finally, he verified that we could fly from Madrid to LA and then to SFO.  Thank goodness! That worked and we made it back safely.

Dante - One of the Two Galgos That I Brought Back for Adoption in California,
Through Greyhound Friends for Life.
He is in His Forever Home.

Azafran - The Second Scooby Galgo that I Brought Back to California
for Adoption Through Greyhound Friends for Life. She is in Her Forever Home.

Next Trip September 13
On September 13th, I'll travel to Madrid, take the train to Medina del Campo, and then work at the shelter for a week.  My friend and fellow volunteer, Mora, will be joining me mid-trip. We'll spend a few nights in Medina and then a couple in Madrid to relax.  Very excited to return, to bring back Bones and three other galgos for adoption.! I'll take lots of photos and share afterward. 

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

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

Please support Scooby and Greyhound Friends for Life

Thursday, June 8, 2017

12th Visit to Scooby, Winter 2016 - One of My Favorite Places on Earth

I'm Hungry!
A Favorite Photo Captured at Scooby, as the Galgos Await Dinner

Dusting off my keyboard to write you about two things: a fund raising auction that my friend and fellow volunteer, Nancy Young Hanson and I held for Scooby earlier this year, and my most recent trip to Spain in November 2016.  

Our Fund Raising Auction Raised 2,000 Euro for Scooby
Gorgeous Hand-made Coat Donated by Maja from Slovenia

Nancy Young Hanson and I wanted to help Scooby with financial support, so we hosted our first-ever Facebook auction in February.  Items were donated by generous volunteers from around the World, including Slovenia, Scotland, Spain and the USA. We raised 2,000 Euro, which was donated to Scooby in Spain via PayPal. Thank you to everyone for your support. We plan to hold another auction later in 2017, so please stay tuned! 

Back to Scooby to Volunteer! 

Had my 12th visit to volunteer in November 2016 and brought back two gorgeous galgos for adoption, Aria and Solace, who are available for adoption. Contact Hound Sanctuary for more information. 
Darrell Easter with Aria and Solace Scooby Galgos
Available for Adoption Through Hound Sanctuary in Oregon

This was another perfectly wonderful trip. Why do I do this?

It's About the Animals

Who Could Resist?
Met This Handsome Galgo on my Winter Visit to the Shelter
It's plain and simple, I've been traveling to Spain twice each year for the past six years to volunteer at Scooby and spend precious time with the shelter animals, to help however is needed, and to bring dogs to the U.S.A. for adoption, where they literally go from rags to riches.  So many happy stories about the dogs that have been adopted. It truly warms my heart! 

Stop... in the Name of Love! 
Um... Does this Make My Nose Look Big?

We are Politely Waiting for Our Cuddles
Meet Zuki!
She is an Adorable Tiny Galga.
Lost Toes on Her Back Feet from an Infection.
Bringing Special New Shoes for Her on My Upcoming Visit.

It's About the People

These are MY People.
They are Scooby Staff and Volunteers.
I Love Them and Love Spending Time with Them!
Every time I visit Scooby, I marvel at the fantastic staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to support the shelter.  It is difficult work, and these folks come from local Spanish communities and many other countries to help care for the animals.  They are unsung heroes that care so much about doing the right thing.  I am honored to know them and to have had the chance to work with them on my volunteer visits.  Thank you. You are the best of the best!

It's About the Place
Spanish Sunrise

Spanish Sunset
Medina del Campo Train Station 
I love Scooby and I love Spain. There is something about spending time with hundreds of animals in a shelter, way out in the countryside that brings you right back to what matters in life.  It grounds me. It is delightful, yet at times, it is very difficult. I dream about it all of the time when I'm away, and I cannot wait to return. It is the real deal...

Next Trip June 16
Nancy Young Hanson and I will meet up at JFK on June 16th to travel to Madrid. We'll take the train to Medina del Campo, and then work at the shelter for a week.  We're spending four nights in Madrid to relax, where I'll spend my birthday, and we'll be exploring that great City once again.  Very excited to return! I'll take lots of photos and share afterward. Will be bringing two lucky galgos back to California for adoption via Greyhound Friends for Life

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

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

Please support Scooby and Greyhound Friends for Life