Back to the harsh reality
After the adoption day and the annual meeting, we stayed out of necessity another 2 weeks in Belgium, not only because I do not want to drive during the week amongst the many trucks which frightens me, but mainly because the GINB-magazine, for which I must finalize the update, must be prepared by Dirk for printing and because of the first Nalinnes walk on Sunday the 24th of September. Moreover, I also had doctors’ appointments on Monday the 25th and the 29th of September, events which I feared. After a busy week the magazine was ready for printing and the day before the Wallonia walk, we left to meet at the venue that Annie and Raymond Buekenhout found after a long search. After our arrival it turned out that the hall and the toilets especially needed thorough cleaning. Dirk and Martine, who spent the night in their camper and Annie Dusquenne who had been dreaming of a walk in her region for a long time and a Walloon “decoration team” were present to welcome us. A little later Claire and Raymond also arrived with the fully loaded old van which together with her driver and passenger already survived a traffic jam. The hall was large, very large and high, very high. In fact, she was everything what basketball teams and indoor football teams and who else need to exercise and then go home without looking back. This meant that we must not start from 0 but from below zero to decorate and clean to make it attractive for the walk.
It turned out to be a courageous act. Fortunately, we got help from the Walloon decoration team of which the lady had prepared everything, and the husband had been very helpful. They were accompanied by their galgo who had stayed in the shelter for 5 years before he was adopted by them. Even though he had been adopted for years he was still enthusiastic, and he skipped happily around the room to welcome everybody, a pleasure to watch. A feather in the cap of adopters Nicole and Vincent. After the big clean-up the tables were set up for the “shops”, 2 for Yolanda who arrived the next day with her Warm & Cosy stand, 2 for a Walloon adopter with her ceramics and 3 tables for the GINB shop where Claire and Martine displayed our collection. The tombola table with a television as first prize made it perfect. Annie was happy, she watched and got ahead of herself from the stress. Well, preparing walks and venues is not a present. In the afternoon I was content with the result, the tables were beautifully decorated, and the hall looked inviting and thus I invited everybody for lunch in the small room that served to stack chairs, and which looked quite cozy with a table full of sandwiches and spreads. In short, everybody was satisfied, the atmosphere was great and from left to right Flemish/French was spoken and we had good laughs with the result. During lunch the lady arrived to guide us through the area, and she left together with Dirk B to put the arrows in place to prevent anyone from getting lost in the woods. Around 16:00h all left, and we left behind an unrecognizable cozy hall and clean toilets…
Because we spent the night in the Van der Valk hotel in Charleroi, we thought we would arrive first in Nalinnes. Not so, big Dirk was already there and of course Dirk B and Martine who spent the night in their camper. The sympathetic caterer whom Raymond Buekenhout had found in the area was very busy already. Inge and Jean, who both for many years are our support and help in the kitchen were there and in the hall Yolanda and the “ceramics lady” were busy setting up their stand. A fact that helped my peace of mind. A few minutes later Annie and team Nicole and Vincent arrived followed by the GINB-brigade Natascha, Nancy, Ann and Kevin and Co. Shortly after them the first participants who thought better too early than late also arrived. It had started and it would not stop before 18:00h. The first walk is always a guess but because the Walloon adopters had insisted for so long to organize a walk “in their area” we took the gamble and won. It was a beautiful day with beautiful weather and a good atmosphere, and many people were happy to see me again. The food was delicious, the stands were busy, the walk was long and very beautiful, everybody was full of praise for the service. In fact, there were too few superlatives to describe a successful day. Afterwards, tired but satisfied we started to undress and clean the hall that for the first time in its life was left spic & span. After consultation the week after it was decided that it was worth repeating and Raymond “booked” the venue for next year. A decision that made regional manager Annie overjoyed.
On Monday I was expected at 3 doctors and even though all good things consist of 3, not so this time. Third time best time failed because at the neurologist I got sobering news which burdened Dirk and especially me with worries. Anyway, we could not change it and we had to move forward to a new appointment. On Tuesday we picked up the GINB-magazines at Donaat De Riemaecker who has taken care of our print work for years and we took the opportunity to visit the venue that we booked for our next year’s walk. The walk that is organized by the East Flanders region in the Flemish Ardennes about which we will inform you as soon as possible. What is sure is that the hall and the surroundings are fantastic. Anyway, after the inspection of the hall we must take the magazines to Claire and Raymond who have been taken care of the preparation for mailing (labels, stamps etc…, a tough job) and to bring them afterwards to the Mass post in Mariakerke. Although it is not that far from Nukerke to Aalter it took us one hour and a half to supply the magazines due to a lot of deviations on the main roads via several village squares. Not so good for Dirk’s temper. On Friday he went to pick up the van that was in the garage for thorough maintenance and which was ready for service. On Saturday, after a last visit to our dogs whose vacation ended at Hof Rosa Canina he must bring our ugly rental car back after he dropped me off at home. Upon his return the departure fever struck, and the van must be loaded because we must get up at 4:00h to pick up our dogs first before driving onto the motorway for about 10 hours.
Monday the 9th of October 2023
Meanwhile we have been home for a week and in that week, I had the time to recover from a 2-day stay in a van and from the terrible busy roads for 2 extremely long days that did not seem to end. Two days during which the dogs were behaving patiently and besides the sanitary stops and walks in the fenced area of the hotel they slept the entire trip. Towards the end it became difficult for me, I could not find a comfortable position and much to the driver’s dismay I could not sit still anymore. The final steps are the hardest, aren’t they? Anyway, despite the neurologist’s advice who called me before the trip I made it again. But I must admit that for a moment I thought it was the last time, but once it was over, I thought differently. So far. While we picked up our rhythm again and Dirk sheared the hedge for a few hundred meters and repaired the loose tiles in the garden before the arrival of the 6 puppies, our colleagues in Belgium were also busy. Raymond Buekenhout was gathering his ‘troops” for the Christmas market in Glabbeek. Yolanda went to a dog blessing where several adopters were also present and on the 4th of October “World Animal Day” a GINB delegation together with the Brabant regional managers Ann and Nancy visited a retirement home. While everywhere in the world is celebrating Animal Day the local hunters are shooting to their heart’s content from morning dew to sunset and even at night on everything that moves and the first galgos are dumped. The others start their agony towards death, their death march in fact. For the first time in our GINB history Las Nieves is so overcrowded that currently no more galgos can be added and they must be put on a waiting list. The 250 females and almost 100 males that are still residing there are all castrated and sterilized by Marianne and Anne and they are urgently waiting for adoption. Unfortunately, after Corona the adoptions have decreased, people want to travel more, they both go out to work, they want to enjoy their free time and are not interested in dog walks or dog events. Just the old faithful and a few newcomers are still enthusiastic to socialize with other adopters and they keep coming. What about the galgos you may say, ask or think? Well, the galgos keep waiting and hoping and their agony never ends.
Thursday the 12th of October, Saturday the 14th of October 2023
Today is “D Day”, the 6 puppies have arrived with Marie-Carmen and at this moment they are very busy to decorate our legs with their sharp nails…In the meantime they need extra eyes and paws to race in their new “area” and to discover toys, food bowls and sleeping places. After their difficult start they finally are where they belong. The two “biggest” ones, Hugues and Huguette are already adopted, the little ones who share their past with the ‘big ones”, and the heavily pregnant dumped very young mother who the next day gave birth in the shelter were waiting there for our return to come to Casa Belgica. The time has finally come, and they can release their energy to their heart’s content and get trained to prepare for their new life and their first home ever. They will be immersed with love and attention and care, get their vaccinations, delicious food and especially play, sleep, and sunbathe a lot providing the sun is shining because autumn has started with chill and rain.
When on Saturday they are acclimatized a bit Dirk will take photos of Hermine, Hannah, Hubert, and Hercules. I am not looking forward to assisting him as it is a job for which monkish patience is needed. It means to start and restart a lot because these mini-galgos are just like eels in your hands as far as posing is concerned. When you think you hold the head it turns out to be the tail etc… First a candy or afterwards you never know, just that a lot of candy is eaten. After having played and sunbathed for 2 days the time came, and Dirk and I started the photo session. Everything I expect and much more happens. Anyhow, after an hour of angelic patience and improvisation they are in the photos, albeit lying down, they obviously agreed not to use their paws, but they are on it, and they can be put on the site. This means a busy weekend, one is already reserved, and the home visit has happened and is approved, thus 3 more to go…
Friday the 20th of October 2023
After it started pouring rain on Wednesday night it continued pouring rain even harder the next day, a phenomenon about which we learned the day after that it has been more than 100 years since so much rain had fallen in Madrid and surroundings. Anyway, later Marie-Carmen and a co-worker of Narub (the hydrotherapy center where we were customers with Hector and others) will arrive with a young female that she had found and who presumably has a fractured hind paw. She cannot keep her, but she asks if we could help her. Fortunately, it does not rain anymore but instead an icy wind is temporarily blowing the clouds apart. Through the openings a shy winter sun is shining that apparently will not sustain her efforts for long. Around noon the ladies have arrived with a tiny skinny female who still looks like a big puppy but with an ugly twisted paw on which she cannot stand. After much discussion back and forth with Marie-Carmen and the Spanish therapist who does not speak English at all but who wants to see the puppies once more she prepares to leave while the first raindrops are falling. Meanwhile Dirk installs the female whom I named Hélène and I go inside to send a mail message to Dr. De Frutos to make an appointment. It has started…
Tuesday the 24th of October 2023
Today we are ready at 8:00h to leave for Dr. De Frutos, not only Hélène travels along, because yesterday evening Marie-Carmen called asking if another one with a serious unknown problem in her hind paw could go along. When she arrives with the female and Dirk lifts her, he says cynically “her coat weighs more than she does”. Upon our departure, it starts to rain even before we are at the end of the street. Once we drive directly to Talavera it starts raining cats and dogs and the wind starts blowing heavily. While Dirk is navigating the van through the many car drivers, who all seem to be in a hurry to get to work in time, I think already at our arrival and the lack of parking space at the clinic. In the two months that we did not visit Dr. De Frutos it would not have changed I suppose displeased. Anyway, the two females are quiet and even seem to be enjoying the ride, poor girls, so young and so neglected and tyrannized. Fortunately, they “ended up” with us and for the first time in their life they should not be scared anymore. As promised the doctor had his morning “reserved” for us. After the X-rays and examinations, he must reserve more than the morning because Hélène’s old fracture needs urgent surgery and Hermione, in whose painful infected knee a malignant tumor was found that can only be stopped through amputation, also needs very urgent care. We are sent home with the message that they will inform us when they can be picked up. It is after 17:00h when we receive the message that everything went well and that we can pick them up at 19:30h. We drove back to Talavera in the rain and with the prescriptions and medication schedule we returned for the fourth time in the rain and the van had 4 X 78 km on the meter. It is after 22:00h when they are installed in the clinic and had food and with music under the heat lamp, they can dream of a new life… They both must have a “check-up” on Thursday.
Thursday the 26th of October 2023
Yesterday when after their major surgeries they enjoyed a night’s beneficial rest Hélène and Hermione (who meanwhile got the name Mimi, slightly confusing but well…) were overenthusiastic and overflowing with love when they were let out. Apparently the “Frutos magic” had worked because they were hopping quickly behind us and were begging for attention. Wonderful to see and almost incredible that only yesterday they had been operated. During the entire day they switched from a good beauty sleep to what they had never known, a delicious fortifying generous food bowl. Thereafter followed a walk on the clinic’s patio and a healthy sanitary stop. To our relief everything went well and thus we left this morning in good spirits for the fifth time in 2 days to Talavera for the check-up of the two ladies. Because we were not expected until 11:00h Dirk must not postpone his daily morning rituals which is clean-up of the nightly sanitary activities of the 6 puppies and of our dogs and of the nearby trees that according to Dirk loose too many leaves, sigh… The only disadvantage of leaving later I thought is that it would be even more difficult to find a parking space, and once we reached the motorway, we were pushed forward by a wind with storm tendencies. Wrong thought even though to Dirk’s dismay in the streets and lanes to the clinic everywhere trucks were double parked to supply the shops, it should have been difficult to squeeze the van between them. But a good soul got us a parking place in a dead-end street at the backside of the Frutos clinic by moving his car and he was moved to tears when he saw Hélène and Hermione. So much for the travel issues. Anyhow, in the clinic Dr. De Frutos checked his work in between two operations, he changed Mimi’s bandage, he checked Hélène’s wound, congratulated us on the care, prescribed extra medication and was happy with the result. And so were we and if needed we should call him. Twenty minutes later the ladies were on board, and we left again for Calypo. While Dirk drove out of Talavera, I told him that he was free to let go of the steering wheel, the van would return alone to Casa Belgica, it knew the way.