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Spain Update April 2022 - Sun20March

Posted on
08 May 2022



Sunday the 20th of March 2022

As planned Dirk left on Thursday with 19 passengers and of course with Loulou Babalou who took over Hercules’ job as second co-driver.  The fact that he must leave with another co-driver was not foreseen though. Dirk Buffalo was diagnosed flu the day before departure and hence Dirk must replace him in extremis, to reroute his flight to a later date and find asap a new driver.  He found a volunteer in Limburg and on Wednesday before departure Yolanda’s Luc d’Artagnan arrived as co-driver and left again after the usual spaghetti the day after at 9:00h with Dirk in the direction of Belgium.  After having them waved goodbye I hurried inside because it was hardly 4°C outside and I had a serious cold combined with a second dust allergy, both thanks to the miserable renovations with lime and dust, through which I almost got the looks of Quasimodo’s sister (if the man ever had sisters...). After a prosperous journey they arrived  in Hof Rosa Canina on Thursday night or Friday morning at 2:30h with Morante (our fortune seeker of the week) and his 19 fellow travelers, amongst them puppies Gisèle and Gilles.  They were welcomed like kings by Kris Saenen and Co. and the day after on Saturday everybody could meet their new family.



The young Jésus with the broken paw whom I named little Gaston, left first on Friday.  He was taken along with regional manager Sonja who is going to take care of him until he is recovered, for which I am grateful.  In between this happy event and the visit of the veterinarian to our travelers, our co-worker Claire’s car was hit on the way to Hof Rosa Canina by a young overconfident young driver!!!  Fortunately, there was only metal damage according to Dirk. What a luck!! Anyhow metal damage or worse nobody could have convinced her to stay away, that is for sure. Yesterday was adoption day and regional manager Annie Dusquenne brought Sergio along who had been given up after 3 years of adoption because he suddenly started digging holes in the garden etc.… As usual the adopter’s white lie who, much to Annie’s dismay, said goodbye to the dog without any emotion when she picked him up on Friday. When after her arrival at home she called telling me that she did not understand why such a kind and affectionate dog could be returned I replied, “because they did not want him anymore”.  Unbelievable for people like us, but it is the harsh reality.


When on Saturday after the adoption day she must leave him in Hof Rosa Canina she cried bitter tears they told me, I am aware of that, all co-workers know that and feel like it is a personal failure, but it is not, that is clear.  It is not our failure, not the dog’s failure but heartless people’s failure who can dump an animal like dirt when they are fed up with him. It is revolting but what do you expect, and today on the adoption day, it was dumped Sergio’s turn.  Other dogs left and one dog was returned. Life can be hard and unfair, but I comforted myself with the fact that a better future was waiting for him, with people who did love him. After everybody left Roel reported to me and sent as usual a short video of  the co-workers waving at me.  Although they did not see me, I waved at them and thought of Saturday next week, the cheese and wine evening and I would at last also be there. Next Thursday we will drive to Belgium and on Sunday after the event we will return by car to Spain.  While I am writing this Koen Falise and Dirk are on their way to Spain and are in Burgos in the meantime. Another 290 km my husband just told me at the phone.  If all goes well and they will  not have a traffic jam entering Madrid they will arrive here maybe around 21:30h. They will have been on the road for about 18 hours!! Everything for the dogs, of course….

Monday the 18th of April 2022

Meanwhile almost a month has passed since Koen and Dirk returned from Belgium on the 20th of March and we on Thursday the 24th of March left our dogs reluctantly under Vali’s care during the not yet finished renovations and left for Belgium for the cheese and wine evening. Before that time, I first must see the orthopedist who replaced a few years ago my worn-out knees and hip by better functioning prostheses.  Anyway, one of them, my hip, started to squeak and moan… At first, I did not know from where the strange noises came until I realized that it came from inside and my hip prosthesis was the cause!!! ”It is inside” Koen Wouters probably would have said, anyway I was surprised, and Dirk was even more surprised and when he heard it, he called me a squeaky hinge…  One thing is certain, I could not sneak up on him anymore.  He wrote to the doctor who gave me an appointment on Thursday and thus we drove from the airport to the doctor who told me that it was due to my attitude (to whom else…).  Unknowingly I adapted to my back pain so that my hip could not function adequately anymore and “moved without grip”… Well, that could also be added, fortunately it was not painful, it was just creepy Dirk said and hoped that it would stay that way. With this knowledge we drove home where I unpacked our suitcase containing my outfit for the cheese and wine evening and my indispensable war colors.  Thereafter I started a tour of the apartment which felt strange after all that time…

After an uncomfortable night Dirk went to pick up the printed magazines at Donaat Deriemaeker and I was given the pleasant job to check meanwhile all the incoming mails on my pc. Less pleasant were the errands that we must do in the afternoon, but we must do what had to be done… The next day, after the necessary phone call from Dirk to Spain to inform about the dogs and the renovation work, I started  already in the afternoon with my toilet. Half an hour before our departure I was ready and rather satisfied with the result of my efforts: 76 is not 26 anymore and it takes the necessary efforts for a good result. When men say that women need more time to get ready, but in our household though… he is always the last one ready although he claims high and low that he is not.  Just before leaving he always needs to call or look at his pc or whatever it is it makes me always nervous. Anyway, when we finally sat in the car and crossed the “border” from East to West-Flanders my husband was excited by the West-Flanders roads annex country roads full of traffic signs indicating detours and he finally called Carine.  When he saw her waving in the distance, he relaxed… Sigh!!! When we arrived in the nicely decorated hall (in time) it was a happy reunion with the co-workers who have been busy the whole day and, in the evening, ensured the service. Anyhow we had to tell each other lots of new and old stories. Before we finished doing that the first participants entered one by one and I was being absorbed by my “fans” some of which I have not seen since more than 2 years, of course it was a warm reunion.  Half an hour later the hall was full, and everybody could serve themselves at the delicious and rich cheese buffet.


My plate was hardly empty when Geena Lisa, who was going to perform and whom I had not seen or spoken to since more than a year, entered and came to have chat with me. When she said that she had to confess something, what most probably many among you already know, is that she adopted a galgo puppy via another organization.  I almost fell off my chair.  I have during my Spartan education values like loyalty and respect been fed with the spoon and it was difficult to keep my face straight and to hide my consternation. How naïve you have been my late grandmother would have said. When I told her that I could not “sell”  this to all our co-workers who work themselves to death for GINB, let alone the adopters, her excuse was that her friend had convinced her that she would be happier with a puppy. It is quite possible but when you are a godmother of an organization who accommodates the largest concentration of galgos (460) in Spain and who had now 2 puppies and later another 14 puppies who arrived with the greatest misery…. I was devastated and felt betrayed. Anyway, she said that nobody needs to know but my project co-worker told me a few days later that there was already a photo on FB with the new puppy since a couple of weeks.


After her successful performance we said goodbye to Geena, to the co-workers and people in the hall and left for De Pinte.  When at 1:30h we went to bed it was already 2:30h due to time change which meant that half an hour later, in fact at 4:00h, we had to get up to leave for Spain.  At 4:00h I left my cheese and wine evening outfit behind in De Pinte and after a last “Dirk control” of the apartment I installed myself shivering from cold in the car armed with my corset and a cushion.  There was a ride of more than thousand km waiting for us till Castets where we would spend the night in hotel Les Bruiyères as usual. When Dirk booked the reservation, they informed us that our familiar restaurant “Hyppopotame” and their very kind staff who did not open the doors if you were waiting in the rain 2 minutes before opening time, was replaced by restaurant “La Tchanka”…  Could it be something exotic with such a name?   When 13 hours after our departure we were at the doorstep of “La Tchanka” we were welcomed by the only left waitress (the kindest one) of the former personnel. “La Tchanka” did not look exotic at all, on the contrary. The name referred to a local tradition/sports, walking on stilts!!! Who would have thought that? Not us. Because due to too small beds Dirk had asked “lits-jumeaux” (twin beds) and for the first time the night was more comfortable than usual, and we were first in the breakfast room that was slowly crowded with Dutch people.  Just like yesterday evening in the restaurant they did not speak nor understand a word in French what the conversation with the waitress made difficult. The Belgians are privileged I said to Dirk, we understand everything, well, a little French, English and Spanish, as for the rest…

It was 9:30h, in fact an hour earlier, when we passed the French-Spanish border and started on the highway that is winding through the Basque mountains. It’s been a long time, but I always hated the road because of the dangerous bends and there was always a speed competition between busses, trucks, vans, and cars.  Deadly!!!  The closer we got to home the more I got worried about the works and the dogs. They would be excited, the ones who were camping in the kitchen like us during the works as well as those residing in the garden and the veranda. What a misery it has been, the kitchen furniture was delivered but was still unpacked, we did not have water nor cooking fire and we had been cooking for weeks on an induction plate outside and we washed the dishes with water from the hose.  It has been very cold, and it rained a lot and all this during the renovation works in the house and outside.  I would never recommend to anyone; it makes you or breaks you.  In my case and a bit in Dirk’s case it was the latter after 2 months. We were exhausted from stress by the constant presence of working men in the house who produced thousands kilos of dust. Dust and lime which caused me a dust allergy through which during the first infection I looked like Quasimodo and I must go to the hospital because the local doctor was panicking when she saw me.  A second attack followed but within limits, I only looked like a distant relative of the previous mentioned  hunchback of the Notre-Dame.

Anyway, when we arrived home at our “construction site” our morale dropped below zero. The dogs were delirious with joy and Théophile smiled with all teeth, but they were all in the back and crowded impatiently at the gate. Loulou Babalou was punching and turning at the fence with bloody head and did not respond to her name. I yelled to Dirk who was still unloading the car to let her out and I asked Vali what had happened with Loulou and why the kitchen dogs were in the back. She pretended not to know anything and told us that the kitchen dogs were only just there because we were approaching and Loulou was turning around from joy because she saw us, which was something she had never done during our absence. The bloody abrasions on her head and the working men who looked bored were telling a different story.  When Dirk let her out, she turned around like a spinning top and bumped against everything and did still not respond to her name. I cried with misery, let my tears go and felt very guilty.  We left the dogs in good faith under the neighbor’s care, and it seems that she did  not take it too seriously. What have we done to Loulou? We had left a healthy balanced happy dog and in 4 days of absence she turned into a rudderless wreck.  I immediately sent a mail to Dr. De Frutos and looked every 5 minutes for his reply.  The following week was hell.  Loulou received medication against stress but was still turning around and still fixed on her tail that she considered as her worst enemy. The kitchen was “installed” without sink, without water and without the hob and thus we again must cook outside, rain or not. To make things even worse I had the flu, or corona Dirk said but fortunately the test was negative. He also had a tough cold.  Even though I had no voice anymore it did not prevent me from angrily calling Eggo.  Marianne and Kris will arrive within 2 weeks and our house was still uninhabitable and the veterinarian room was still packed with our household.  After the angry phone call, they arrived with the sink, a Rumanian plumber connected the water, and we got a temporary tap. But we had water and a few days later a hob!!!  


In the house the work is going on and in extremis a concrete beam must be removed with jackhammers and sledgehammers through which we again were covered with dust.  Dirk got excited and issued an ultimatum.  At the latest 2 days before Marianne’s arrival, they must leave the house!! Painting and electricity included everything must be finished. How, they must find a solution themselves.  The solution was weekend and evening work until midnight and in between we got a blitz visit from veterinarian-cardiologist Valerie Bavegems and Alex Claessen who during their visit to the shelter fell in love with Vaca and meanwhile adopted her. When the contractor and Co. left on Thursday evening before the arrival of our “vet team” we still did not have light in our office and we must start to work against the clock to get the veterinarian room ready in time, to clean up, make the garden free and prepare the clinic etc.…etc.…  While we were working ourselves to death there was doom and gloom in Belgium.  A couple of dogs were returned with the usual excuses, other situation, sudden allergies, other landlord etc.… You could feel that Easter was coming, and that traveling was again allowed.  One woman called from the hospital where she was being treated that she did not trust her partner with the dog because he was very aggressive with the animal!! The same day regional manager Katrien picked up the neglected and traumatized animal and brought him to Hof Rosa Canina.  I called the veterinarian and told him that he should not save costs nor efforts to save the poor soul.  After a week of hospitalization and having tried everything possible the veterinarian put him to sleep in consultation with us. I cried bitter tears, together with Katrien and Christel who offered him a new home, and I felt responsible for what had happened without my knowledge.  I had promised the animal a better future and I had failed. It is quickly written down but while I am writing, tears of frustration and guilt run down my cheeks. Hence, I would like to insist to report any case of mistreatment or neglection, even when in doubt.



Meanwhile Marianne and Kris returned home after 4 exhausting, productive and especially  very busy days in which 61 ladies were “made” baby proof and 2 gentlemen with undescended testicle were made “papa proof” after a long search for the hided “item”.  Marianne adopted 8 old females, indeed EIGHT!!!  The first day they started after their arrival, the necessary chats and late breakfast with the first 15 females.  In the eve Marianne was ready with their sterilization and after a beauty treatment from Kris they were heavenly sleeping off their daze with clean teeth, clean nails, and ears. In the evening after the aperitive we had spaghetti as usual, and we were all exhausted and Kris and Marianne disappeared now and then to the bathroom but nevertheless the atmosphere was fine, and we laughed a lot.  Until Dirk after his toilet visit asked irritated what I had done with the mirrors in our room.  I was surprised but he did not listen to my question what he meant and took me along with Marianne and Kris to the bedroom to have a look. When I saw the umpteenth post-its glued on the mirror in heart shape on which every co-worker had written down how much they loved me, I was devastated and moved.  I had a difficult time lately, the situation with Loulou and the death of the dog hit me hard. Kris had felt it and  told the co-workers and asked them to cheer me up.  She was successful and it took her hours to write everyone’s “declaration of love” on the pink-yellow post-its that she had glued on the mirror while Dirk must check on me.  I will keep them all and in case of emergency I will read and reread…



The day after another 20 were sterilized and the day after again 20.  We could not decide to let the females go, because some of them were emaciated and hardly escaped the hunting season and the “breeding” exploitation. And so, they all stayed until the departure of their benefactors and we were left behind with 61 ladies of which the first ones would only leave on Thursday. It was a real marathon during which I hung up and folded at least 500 pee cloths, I had cooked for the guests etc… etc… and I stayed behind exhausted and tired with our 11 dogs when Dirk left for the airport with Marianne and Kris.  Before he closed the gate behind him, he yelled that I must watch Paris-Roubaix and report when he returned. I just woke up when the dogs were alarming me and confessed to Dirk that I fell asleep and did not see anything of the cycling race. Anyway, they still had to go 20 km and thus he could still watch till the end.  About three hours after Marianne and Kris had left Marie-Carmen called with bad news. A dog had arrived with a broken paw, a nasty fracture. I moaned and sent a mail to Dr. De Frutos. His reply arrived an hour later that we were expected the next day at 9:30h. Even though I had dreamed of sleeping only one time until 9:00h we left the next day at 8:00h with a black-white male who once again got the name Pirata. No way I said to Dirk I will call him Gerard, this year in Casa Belgica the names start with a G. 


Dr. De Frutos made X-rays of the fracture which was dangerously close to the joint and he supposed that it might need a special plate.  In the afternoon we got the news that the operation passed well, and that Dirk could pick up Gerardo… at 19:00h.Dr.


Monday the 25th of April 2022

In the meantime, Gerard has been in the clinic since a week and is taken care of 3 times per day by Dirk while I hold him and whisper kind words. Thereafter I keep him company on the patio while he is urinating or eventually takes a poop. As soon as this is finished, he is eager to get in again because his food is waiting. Men, no matter how heart-conquering they are, and our Gerard is, they always think of their stomach… Besides him there are still 3 “post Marianne” females in the garden who since Wednesday have company of the ZZ’tops, the seven black toppers, who meanwhile are all adopted. That means that we are very busy, especially Dirk, 11 downstairs and 11 upstairs who all are doing an average of 3 poops and twice the amount of urine and who need to be fed… A person would get tired of less. Fortunately, after two days it stopped pouring rain and the downstairs galgo ladies take over our job and play and take care with pleasure of the little crocodiles. Apart from the fact that we are still having the after-effects of the dust from the restoration and Dirk, and I still must do a thousand things our greatest concern is to find a place for Gerard to recover with one of our co-workers.  We will see.  Next week Dirk Buffalo will arrive, and I will leave the day after much to my dismay alone with the plane to Belgium to attend the adoption day. On Monday I have an appointment with the neurosurgeon for a scan that should prove if my  vertebrae have grown together or not. I hope they are…we will see, we will light a candle.  For Gerard it worked, he can stay with Aunt Yolanda on recovery leave. Let us keep our fingers crossed now for the hundreds that are waiting in the shelter for their forever home. It never stops….