Friday the 7th of April 2023
Meanwhile, after 2 days in Limbourg and the first successful walk in Balen, which is not so evident for a first walk and on top bad weather…, we left for Spain again on Tuesday the 28th of March. To leave on a Tuesday… to encourage myself I had proclaimed that to be present at the walk I did not mind leaving on Tuesday. It is easier said than done, because after we picked up our dogs at Hof Rosa Canina, we drove on the highway at 5:15h and when I saw the irritating lights of the close-fitting trucks driving on both sides of the highway on the right lanes my courage dropped. Do I have to endure this for 1000 km I thought, I did not say it to not spoil my husband’s temper. Instead, I thought of the walk that was organized by Yolanda and Kevin and which was a success. Everything was perfect. Despite the bad weather and the many deviations, a lot of participants enjoyed the beautiful, decorated hall (thanks to Kelly of Warm&Cosy), there was a nice tombola, delicious food, perfect service, a warm atmosphere, in short, it could not go wrong. Until our regional manager Ann Grammet during the walk fell into a kind of sinkhole filled with mud!!! Fortunately, she could be freed from plight by bystanders and returned frightened and shivering from the cold to the hall where she took off her soaked clothes helped by Nancy, and she complained about pain in her pulse. Later, when Nancy took her to the emergency room it appeared that her pulse was broken and needed an operation! Surgery that meanwhile is done now… Incredible I thought, with closed eyes not to see the many trucks…Without help she could have disappeared in a whole in the ground with the ambition of a forgetting pit… Imagine!!! If it did not happen, I would not have believed it if someone would have told me… It was rather a scene out of one or another horror movie in which Ann was unwillingly the main character.
An hour after we left, we stopped in St. Léger for our usual coffee and croissants. Before we left again 20 minutes later, I tried to go to the bathroom for a last time because Dirk had warned me that it would be busy on the Paris ring, so… When an hour and a half later at 8:00h we drove onto it he did not exaggerate, it was not busy but chaotic, terrible! It took us more than 2 ½ hours with Dirk’s accompanying comments and annoyances, before we could leave the traffic Apocalyps behind us and drove onto the “direct” to Bordeaux. Another 790 km to our hotel in Castets, I could not think about it.
Even though I urgently needed a sanitary stop my husband continued driving for another hour before he stopped to refuel, to drink a cup of coffee and to eat a spongy “plastic” sandwich with goat cheese that sticks like glue. Thereafter Loulou and Amadeus could dump the excess liquid and solid ballast. As usual Astrid refused to get out and retreated to the furthest corner of her residence. In total the stop did not last for 20 minutes, sigh… Apart from the coffee stop in St. Léger which is 100 km away from our departure point it was the only stop until beyond Bordeaux… Dirk and stopping does not go together does it? Hours later, after we passed the traffic chaos on the Bordeaux ring, we finally left the highway at 17:30h and we drove to our hotel on the other side of the highway. After the usual procedure and an urgent sanitary stop the van could rest in the guarded car park where we were the only ones and we let the dogs out.
After 1000 km of stress, it was a luxury to at last stretch our legs together with our passengers. I had a déjà vu and I thought relieved “we made it again”, I did not know how many times yet, many that was certain. When the dogs had finished eating and they were installed until their evening walk, we went to “La Tchanka” for a meal. As usual we chose Fish & Chips from the children’s menu, it was the only “vegetarian” meal that fortunately was on the menu. Anyway, the waitress ended our luck because the children’s menu was changing, no Fish & Chips anymore. In our room we watched “Prison” and of course football with half eyes on Dirk’s tablet. It is not evident hoping to sleep better and by experience and the much too narrow beds we had ordered 2 beds and the tablet was on Dirk’s bed. Not so good for my stiff neck. Around 22:30h he went outside to let the dogs out and half an hour later each of us were lying in our “lits jumeaux”(twin beds). If I had expected to sleep well, not so. At night the constant passing trucks on the nearby highway and Dirk’s monotone snoring ruined my sleep and I was happy to get up at 7:30h. While he let the dogs out, I started to apply my war colors. Meanwhile I thought why do all that work to sit back in the van for 600 km…but one never knows what could happen to you, right? Eight hours later at 17:00h we drove onto the Casa Belgica driveway, and I thought “we made it again” I did not know how many times yet, many that was certain. When we let the dogs out Amadeus was limping, and he raised his front paw plaintively…
Because the days after Amadeus continued limping, I got worried, all sorts of doom scenarios went through my head and Leopold and those who preceded him and Beauregard who also passed away unexpectedly were not far away and thus I made an appointment with Dr. De Frutos. Due to one or another Spanish holiday, we could only go on Wednesday. Fortunately, after a thorough examination his paw was healing and I should not worry because he had so many hiccups, according to Dr. De Frutos it is normal for puppies. When we walked from his office to the reception, I saw the cartoon that I had given to him and his wife as a present on Hector’s healing and adoption. At that time, he told me that during Hector’s operation he had to pull at full power at his paw to stretch the atrophied muscle to fit the bone again into the hip socket and since then it always stuck in the back of my mind. Hence after the healing I made a drawing and at Dirk’s insisting I made a cartoon. He and Teresa were very happy with it, and they laughed loudly. Anyway, I was happy that the visit only had good news for my peace of mind. I did not even care anymore that the day after we must go shopping at Hipercor and Lidl to prepare Marianne’s and Kris’s arrival on Friday.
Besides, in the meantime it is Friday the 7th of April and while Dirk went to the airport to pick them up, I wrote my update and prepared lunch that had been eaten already although we were interrupted by Marie-Carmen who brought the first 10 ladies. In fact, 11 will be sterilized this afternoon including Hortense. When they come “up” at 19:30h the ladies in the clinic are sleeping off their anesthesia. We drink the usual glass to their health and Dirk has a special present for Kris, small bottles of alcohol-free champagne… After the aperitif and appetizers, I serve spicy rice with red beans, vegetables, and vegetarian balls. After a hesitating start and a few searching glances at each other they go for it, they like it and we finish the bowl together, an unexpected success! There will be a smelly concert tonight both ladies say and laugh loudly. Lovely women… diamonds on the GINB crown…Before I go to bed, I read a few passages from Kris’s booklet. It is highly recommended for everyone who loves greyhounds and sheds a few tears…
Saturday the 8th of April 2023
At 8:00h it is very busy in Casa Belgica, we are still sitting at the table when Marie-Carmen arrives with the new patients, 12 in total… Enough work guaranteed as there are still about 40 waiting in the shelter to be made baby proof. When after having set the table for lunch I go to the clinic Kris tells me that again there is a female with a cut off nose!! She is a beautiful raw-haired replica of regional manager Nancy Quide’s beautiful Sir Elliot. Only the girl has a half nose, sad to see. This is the third season I say angrily, I suppose that this cruelty is the galguero’s trademark to make a statement. When I think of the pain this poor soul has endured. If we could get hold of this man, I would take his nose in a pair of pliers and we cut it off with a blunt knife, Kris and I are fantasizing, and Marianne agrees. Unfortunately, this revenge will never be assigned to us and should the opportunity arise, we would be persecuted. The hunters can do anything, they are immune from persecution, they can vent their frustrations on their property. They can do anything and try out the most gruesome tortures Nobody is going to address them, nice laws. During the morning there are several females with complications needing extra small surgery by Marianne who is having back problems due to bending over, and she comes earlier for lunch, well earlier. We are still at the table when Marie-Carmen arrives with the next 10 ladies. Just like the previous ones they are beautiful young and especially adorable, sweet females who already had a serious agony behind them. Incredible that one can dump this kind of affectionate animal, after all these years I still cannot understand it. What is particularly striking is that there are many rough-haired ones amongst them. Maybe the previous galgo champion was raw-haired I think, that could be an explanation, trends are also followed in those circles.
After a half-hour lunch and coffee, the ladies walk back to the clinic. Dirk and I follow them. I go folding the washed and “sun dried” cloths, Dirk starts a new wash and cleans up the poop and Marianne and Kris take care of the new patients. While we are very busy here my co-workers in West-Flanders, under supervision of Carine Soenens & Co., are busy with the preparations of the cheese and wine evening for which more than 200 participants have registered! This year we cannot be present due to the arrival of the medical team but be sure we think of you just like you will think of us and the dogs. That is why we are doing it, for those whose voice we are, for those who without us are handed down to their executioners. In the afternoon they continue non-stop, and it is 20:30h before they come upstairs after a working day of about 12 hours, leaving in the clinic 32 resting galgos sterilized and with cleaned teeth and clipped nails and a tattoo in their ears ready to start a new life. While they are enjoying the peace and dream of a new future we start with an aperitif and then supper. We all are exhausted, but we make jokes and even though we feel the years we stay strong for each other. Unfortunately, my extensive menu for which I spent the entire afternoon is only half on the table because meanwhile it is 22:30h and nobody still has the courage to sit longer at the table. While Dirk and I clean up and look for space in the refrigerator Marianne and Kris return to the clinic for a last checkup of the today’s 22 baby proof ladies. The 10 yesterday’s ladies who are still staying in the clinic are doing very well. When the ladies take a shower and are in their room, I stay up for half an hour with tea and the thought that tonight 32 galgos are staying in the clinic and our 6 dogs upstairs and Hortense. It was again a productive day I think, the umpteenth, how many??? Marianne has been operating here for the last 20 years. In fact, I should count how many dogs she already operated in our clinic. That it will be a gigantic amount is certain…
Sunday the 9th of April 2023, EASTER!!!
This morning when we sat at the breakfast table it is a fact!!! Even though she solemnly promised her home team not to bring any galgo home this time, she succumbed… No easter eggs for her today but 2 galgos with whom she fell in love and another 1 or maybe 2 extra seniors as Easter treatment… When Marie-Carmen arrives with the first 12 ladies I ask her ASAP if she has a few old ones, very old ones. As old as I feel at this moment. She immediately tells the story of a white female who was dumped months ago together with her daughter. Mother and daughter were always together, but the daughter was adopted some time ago and ever since the mother has been inconsolable. The other eligible old lady is a brindled female of 12 years old who has been a breeding dog for life. The poor female has been in the shelter for so long that Marie-Carmen does not know the exact time. Immediately my tears appear, I can hardly listen to those stories anymore. These dramas are killing me.
During the entire day they worked very hard as usual. The rhythm is only interrupted for lunch annex coffee break. For the rest nothing else but operations and sterilizations for Marianne and for Kris, nothing else than to give “sleeping syringes”, clean teeth/extract teeth, clip nails and put a fashionable S tattoo in their ears as proof that the ladies are baby proof. Because with the small opening Marianne is making the evidence of the operation is gone. While the clinic team is running smoothly, I prepare food, write updates, go treat Marianne and Kris with fruits and other goodies. Meanwhile Dirk is washing cloths, cleaning up poop and urine and taking photos while I am hanging up “his” laundry and folding it. Keeping in mind my “blessed” age, I am through my reserves. In the evening at 20:30h they come upstairs for supper, which is French fries with chicken for the ladies and for us French fries with vegan meat balls in tomato sauce. Meanwhile 55 ladies that are free from non-desired or desired motherhood and 22 today’s ladies are lying in the company of their operated predecessors philosophizing about the future. I wish I could understand the stories that they are telling each other…
Monday the 10th of April 2023
After breakfast it is time to say goodbye for the umpteenth time to Marianne and Kris. How many times, I do not know, many times and I sincerely and wholeheartedly hope many more times to come. We will see because as Marianne noticed we are not all getting any younger, me first… After the usual photo was taken and I waved goodbye they are gone. In thoughts I walk to the garden and look endeared to the many ladies who are waiting eagerly in front of the gate, and I think ‘good work”. When Dirk is back Marie-Carmen arrives to pick up the operated ladies from Friday which is always a painful moment when they leave, especially on Easter… The other ladies will return in the coming days in dribs and drabs. One is staying for an undetermined period, a female who was in such a bad shape that even for us it was painful to see. Her entire body was covered with tumors, hematomas, swollen legs, a mutilated face, she was beaten down, Marianne says. Horrible. Before Marie-Carmen leaves I ask her to bring the old female who is grieving for her daughter and does not want to eat.
Tonight, together with the broken worry female she will get chicken and pasta, hopefully she will eat. Yes! That is how we keep busy, isn’t it…