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Spain update Nov 2018 - Thu15nov

Posted on
27 November 2018



Fractured galgo legs, dumped galgo mothers and their children, in other words Spain anno 2018..

Thursday 15th November 2018

Dear all, as you probably will remember this update starts after the Wezemaal walk after which we returned the same evening to Spain by plane.  After a few days of “big” cleaning up in the clinic, in the surroundings and in the garden we left by car to Belgium and took the opportunity to take a few days’ vacation.  Our dogs were staying with Christel in Hof Rosa Canina and therefore we could be at ease. Although we planned to drive along the Atlantic coast the bad weather conditions made us change our plan and we drove to St. Tropez where Dirk had booked a room in the same hotel where we stayed a couple of days 10 years ago, before continuing to the princess in Nevers, with beautiful memories.


Anyhow after 3 days at the Côte d’Azur where my foot after a visit to Mougins told me that it had been enough we drove to Paris where I absolutely wanted to visit the Picasso museum and Dirk in the Louvre wanted to see the Mona Lisa.  The only thing that we did not know was that a “game” fair was taking place. We arrived in the middle of a fashion week, there were more Japanese in Paris than in Tokyo and we immediately realized why all hotels were fully booked. Despite the number of stars the only hotel that we found was full of voluminous, noisy American ladies eating frightening quantities of breakfast and then they were waiting in the lobby for the bus to take them to the various touristic places.  Terrible!!!

Therefore the day after we decided to have breakfast in a quiet bistrot and then we walked through the Paris streets to the Picasso museum which, according to Dirk, was at walking distance, far away in fact… This was not evident with my foot that only wanted to function when I was wearing those ugly, flat and sticky “sketchers”.  Far from elegant, let alone fashionable I thought, but that was it.  And I had dragged along a bag full of shoes, Dirk reminded me every now and then, and I do not mention the clothes he sarcastically added, men… Too many clothes, too many shoes or whatever I succeeded with Dirk’s support to walk slowly to the Picasso museum and to visit the beautiful and quiet place that was the most important….

The next day was somewhat less peaceful because at the Louvre there were long lines at the entry.  Fortunately Dirk had ordered the tickets and we were allowed to enter via a separate entry. To wait in the line was not possible for me after the long walk from the hotel till the museum.  There was chaos inside, I had never seen such a crowd.  Unbelievable and frustrating as at a museum visit you are expecting peace and serenity... Peace, serenity… at moments we were almost trampled.  After some pushing and pulling we tried to locate the Mona Lisa as soon as possible.  When we finally found her it was not possible to reach her due to the mass of Asian admirers who took turns to take a picture. Dirk then took a view from far of the lady and we ran away out of misery. After the last night in our hotel we left to De Pinte and our vacation was over.  On our way home I was wondering what news professor Burssens would have the week after about my “throbbing” foot.  I had a premonition that it would not be good news…

We needed acclimatizing one night in De Pinte and after having read our mails we went to pick up our dogs at Christel’s. During the short drive I was wondering if they would like to go home with me because after having watched the movies that their vacation aunt had sent to us, they had a good time in the large running meadows and their private beach. Only Odile had the night before chewed too enthusiastically her “buffalo ear” desert and had a loose tooth. This was not the first time, despite her frail and small “format” she is a rather wild country daughter. When we entered the driveway of Hof Rosa Canina my doubts disappeared like snow in the sun when I heard their welcoming concert.  An hour later we arrived in De Pinte and everything was back to normal again.


The day after we made an appointment for Odile with Pascale Wantiez who has been my veterinarian for more than 20 years now.  After her home visit she decided to operate the tooth the next day and to our great consternation we learned that Odile was Leishmania positive.  Something must have triggered the disease, for all our dogs a regular blood test is done because they are staying so much time in Spain. Like the others she was always negative and suddenly out of the blue she was positive and had a titer value of 1 out of 57000 which is gigantic.  Just like Odile I also had to see the doctor and I also received bad news.


The professor who operated my foot the first time welcomed me with the words that I had not changed in 20 years which caressed my vanity. The result was that I had a milder tone when he told me that the X-rays showed that my foot was irreparably damaged through arthrosis and the previous surgery during which the joint was removed and spindles were installed and removed again etc…etc… and that I needed an operation as soon as possible. I already expected that but it could not be postponed anymore to prevent further damage. An appointment was made for Monday 29thOctober, the day after the Berlare walk. I had only 5 days left but fortunately I would still be able to visit the Halloween walk.  Katrien Pollet from the West-Flanders region was less “lucky”: she fell down on her face whilst trying to ride an electrical bicycle and she was not presentable…

When Odile came home she was only a shadow of herself.  The medication did not work, in a few days she lost half of her fur and weight and passed away 3 days later due to kidney failure.  She was only 4 years old and after Adhémar and Hercule she was the third dog who left us in a short period of time.  Poor Odile, we rescued her via Belén from a galguero who kept her with a broken leg in a dirty old trailer.  She was operated 2 times but because of her temperament she broke the operated leg again a few days after surgery.  Thereafter we led her through a long revalidation and finally we decided to adopt ourselves the affectionate and temperamental “Duracell rabbit”.  In the meantime all will have known that she arrived in the dog heaven.

On Sunday I went to Berlare to welcome the numerous participants at the Halloween walk. I admired the beautifully decorated hall prepared the day before by our co-workers and for the first time I was not figuring on the group photo with the walkers.  The news about my operation the next day was obviously spread widely and while everybody encouraged me and wished me the best I realized that I was expected for the traditional photo.  Anyway I was happy with the sincere concern and sympathy and I was brought home with a satisfied and grateful feeling, I still had to pack for the next day.


Three days later on Wednesday I returned home after a complicated surgery with an extra piece of metal in my body and a “Robocop” boot of 1 kg at my foot that I was only allowed to take off at night and I was prepared daily by a nurse and a physiotherapist for our departure to Spain on the 11thNovember which is only allowed when the stitches are removed, the professor told me. Regrettably my foot was so very swollen and blue on Sunday that the home nurse, who feared an infection, found it necessary to go to emergency.  Emergency…a badly chosen word… After a nerve-racking day with examinations, blood samples, smears and mainly waiting we were only back at home in the late afternoon with the good news that there was no infection but it had to be followed up closely and the stitches could not be removed yet…


The next week I did everything they told me to do, more rest, more ice and my foot up, but higher than my heart, as the doctor told me, was too high… Anyway the days were long and I was happy with the news that several co-workers and adopters started their “warmest week” actions.  Sonja, Kris, Marleen and Pat had posted with success in the Maxi Zoo in Hoboken with our shop and calendars.  Kris Saenen, assisted by adopters Myriam Herremans and Kurt Spiessens, had started an action in the hospital where she is working.  Carine Van De Bulck had prepared soup, Sonja had baked bread and Roel’s present was strawberries from Hoogstraten.  Besides the snacks they also had created beautiful things. A few days later Roel had performed the same action at his work in Hoogstraten. Meanwhile Sonja Wiggenraad and a lady adopter were present in Turnhout and Els and Anja in Tienen.


In the meantime, Raymond Buekenhout, Yolanda, Els and Marc were busy preparing our first Warmest Week Christmas market.  The venue was found and rented and the future exhibitors, “regions”, Sigi, Els, Kris and several lady adopters, were using their phantasy to design their collections. The fever also was felt in Benissa where they were also creating beautiful gadgets.  I hoped and sincerely hope that all their enthusiasm will be appreciated and that people in mass will visit our Christmas market to support GINB. We really need the money, the galgos need your support desperately. Together with all co-workers and people who have put so much energy in it I therefore dare to count on you. Come to our Christmas market, you will be pleasantly surprised because there is so much to see.


The news from Spain was less positive.  Marie-Carmen informed us that she received a telephone call regarding a young galgo male with an ugly fracture of several days old and she asked us what to do.  I have sent a mail to doctor De Frutos in Talavera and explained the situation asking if he could help.  I told him that the invoice as usual can be sent to GINB. He replied that they could bring the dog the next day and that he would do the necessary. I called Marie-Carmen to tell the news and learned that there was a dumped female with 3 pups of 3 days old in the quarantine and that in one day 12 galgos arrived and that the shelter was almost full.  The telephone did not stop ringing and it looked as the hunting season was already finished according to the number of galgos that were dumped and mutilated. It had started.  Before we hung up she asked when Anne and Fred would come to operate…


On Saturday the 10thNovember the home nurse packed my foot extra for the trip and she had her own thoughts.  I did not feel comfortable and wondered how I could put my foot up in the van, let alone put ice on it… we will see.  The suitcases were ready, the van was ready, Dirk was ready and thus I would also be ready. In the afternoon he brought Maléficia, Medusa, Leopold, Pistorius and Hyppolythe to Christel. To let 10 dogs out at the pit stops was too much for him alone, they would come along with the next trip.  Together with the dogs an extra load of material for the 24thNovember adoption day was taken along.  I was surprised about the number of purchases that we had done to equip our new “arrival location”.  A new tent, glasses, cups, cutlery, chairs, tables, heating equipment, refrigerator, rebuilding etc…etc…there seemed to be no end to it.

The day after I was wide awake long before the alarm clock showed 4:00h, the time to get up. The pouring rain that fell out of the sky during the night was one of the reasons, the other one was nervousness…  Anyhow I was faced with it and I had to get through it.  Half an hour later the dogs were loaded and then it was my turn. It was pouring rain continuously and Dirk had put the van as close as possible to the platform.  With a 1 kg weight at my leg and Dirk’s help we made a first attempt to hoist me in the van. The second attempt was the best but the wettest, especially Dirk’s hairstyle had suffered… It was raining too hard to make the usual photo of the De Pinte station clock and we continued straight to the highway.  While I tried to ignore the throbbing pain in my foot my stomach was turning at the thought of the combination of trucks and pouring rain…

When 10 minutes later we turned onto the almost empty highway I could not believe my eyes. There were nowhere trucks, only a few passenger cars that did not care about the limited visibility and drove with high speed through the thick rain curtain leaving a “carwash worthy” trail of splashing water spray for those behind.  After about an hour when we stopped in Aire St. Lèger for coffee and croissants we were alone and it was still raining cats and dogs.  Fortunately in the meantime a discreet dawn was announced and we could slightly distinguish the trees from the wood.

Just before Charles de Gaulle airport the rain stopped. To our surprise there was no “queue” of planes in the air waiting with full “fog lights” for their turn to land. Dirk was convinced that all flights were diverted to Orly because Trump’s “air force one” was parked here.  I was more interested in the road and the weather because the traffic was tripled and I worried because it had started raining again. Fortunately the direct to “Bordeaux” was only a few km far and a couple of dangerous curves away, it would be quieter there I hoped. My hope was fulfilled once we took the last curve the traffic reduced considerably.  After Dirk asked just to make sure “do we stop here?” I said “no” and we drove melancholically by our unrecognizable and modernized “chocolate aire” despite the much needed sanitary stop till the next station 50 km further.

Just before Bordeaux it stopped raining, now onto the crowded ring and then the last 100 km till Castets I encouraged myself.  Despite the fact that I tried to maneuver my prickling and throbbing foot in different higher positions during the drive it felt like a balloon ready to explode.  Twelve hours after our departure and 990 km further we drove onto the driveway of our hotel.  When Dirk let out the dogs on the closed parking it started raining again. I went to our room and removed my “Robocop” boot, I placed all available pillows under my swollen foot and switched the TV on. Whew, I had arrived there I thought relieved, the foot in question was still throbbing further.  Later on Dirk took care of it like a qualified nurse. After supper in de Hypopotamus we watched Professor T. on Dirk’s laptop thereafter he let the dogs out once more and we went to bed.  It was a miracle but I had a good sleep.

The next day after breakfast, how could it be otherwise, we left in the rain. Contrary to the day before the number of trucks on the highway was up to standard.  This was not a surprise, last night I heard that the singing noise of passing trucks on the near highway had increased more and more…We only had to drive to Bidart I comforted myself, once in Spain the number will decrease.  During our drive through Basque country it was raining cats and dogs.  During the whole trip it continued to rain and it only stopped when we saw Madrid from a distance.  Around 7:30h the last 600 km were behind us and when driving onto the Avenida de Madrid we gave each other a high five.  The dogs also knew that they were almost “home” and they started howling softly.  A few minutes later Vali opened the gate and they could stretch their long legs.

We were barely home for 10 minutes when Marie-Carmen called asking if we had arrived. She needed our help because a female with a broken leg had arrived and if she could bring her so we could take her along to doctor De Frutos in Talavera with whom we had an appointment the next day.  I felt dizzy for a second, another broken leg!!  It was obviously the broken-legs- year. Gabriel, Dracula, Marie-Jeanne, Lagartigo who stayed in the clinic for already a week and who had for the second time destroyed his bandage and bitten off his skin.  And now there is another one and probably not the last one.  Together the amount that has been spent up to now is about 8650 Euro.  Gabriel and Marie-Jeanne were adopted but Dracula has been with Katrien since June for special care and needed hydrotherapy for several weeks for which the invoice is still underway.  In the meantime as well as for Marie-Jeanne regular X-rays were made of his leg to send to doctor De Frutos.  After all these months of intensive care (thanks to Katrien) he was finally ready for adoption and Katrien as well as I were worried because after his agony we of course want the best for our beautiful, good and kind black prince.


Our first day in Casa Belgica was a turbulent one. At 8:30h Marie-Carmen brought the young female whom I named immediately Genevieve because I had to complete a sheet in the clinic in which the name of the dog needs to be mentioned.  After an hour’s drive we arrived in Talavera for the umpteenth time.  The doctor examined Genevieve’s leg, he took X-rays, showed us a kind of cable that was in the joint as a temporary remedy and which had caused a lot of misery and pain. He called the engineer for a tailor-made 3D plate that would be supplied the same evening and that he would insert during surgery. We also were told Lagartigo’s horror story and thereafter we could see him because he once more had bitten his plastic “lampshade” and armor annex bandage into pieces. When he arrived in the reception room blood was pouring from his leg and they had to start all over again.  While driving home we were very concerned about the young Lagartigo.


In the afternoon Dirk’s phone was “croaking”, the sign that Marie-Carmen called.  I held my breath. After I told her Genevieve’s story she had a question. She started with a story about a pregnant female who was found on Sunday by someone who at first planned to keep her but brought her later to a dubious asylum where she had given birth to 8 pups and was then put on the street.  An Iberia ex-airhostess and member of Las Nieves had contacted Marie-Carmen for help. She asked what I thought… A little bit before 18h we welcomed a very beautiful, very young white mama and her 8 pups of one day old, 5 girls and 3 boys. Tiny little “minimini” galgo babies, 2 beige-white, one brindled-white and the rest black-white.


Courage…I was already prepared and had names for the family.  Mama’s name was Adelaide, the little ladies’ names Anthea, Agatha, Agrippina, Annabelle and Alegra and the little gentlemen’s names were Beaufort, Boniface and Baptiste…With these names they could leave the misery, the anonymity and the bad start in their short live behind them and they were ready for a new life that started in Casa Belgica.


Due to running back and forth and the emotions I have a terrible headache of which the year-after-years “trouble in paradise” with Anabelle and Salva were the cause, especially since a few months it appears that Casa Belgica is at risk of being sold due to the fact that they are going to divorce.  This would be a disaster, a nightmare because we do not have financial resources to buy Casa Belgica and the thought that GINB would end up on the street and the clinic would be closed!! I dare not to think about it… Anyhow there is a sword of Damocles above our head because the involved parties are diametrically opposed and we could be the victim.  Anyway after the conversation with Anabelle in the afternoon my head is going to explode and the stitches in my swollen foot are tightly stretched.  Because they are causing much pain and discomfort Dirk fears that they might grow into the skin and he decides to remove them himself.  He brings the lamp with the magnifying glass from the clinic, installs his care kit and starts.  What he can do for the dogs he can also do for me is our motto.  I have faith in his expertise and hold my breath. The next day I visit for the first time my physiotherapist Alberto and when he hears that Dirk has removed the stitches he says that we are crazy.


Saturday 17th November 2018

After having written the update during two days to inform you about the recent events I would like to finish in these dark and worrying times with a positive note. Because many of you have followed with horror and compassion the agony of “Lionel with the thousands maggots” I would like to inform you how he is doing in the meantime. As you all know he traveled with us to Belgium and was dropped off at our Marianne Philippo who was going to take further care of him until his neck wound would be healed.  It was less evident than expected, Marianne had to operate him 2 more times.  Anyhow since a few weeks his wound was almost closed. There was only a small hole of half a centimeter left but in the meantime this was healed and his fur has grown again.  After the intense time with Marianne the mutual love has also grown and Lionel is now part of her big dog family. During the day he is helping with the consultations and in the evening he is watching TV in the salon together with Marianne and Philippe and his four-legged brothers and sisters in all colours and parfums. Needless to say that he is happy, and so are all of us…

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