Spain update Dec 2020 - Wed23dec
Run-up to 2021 full of obstacles
Wednesday 16th December 2020
As promised at the end of previous update the adoption day of the 12th December has passed as well as the previous 2 being the last adoption days of 2020 of this edition. The day after Dirk left again with co-driver Koen Falise in the direction of Spain, in my direction. Meanwhile I lost my strength because during on of the turbulent nights in which the dogs could not be controlled, I slipped and touched the ground ungently. First my head and then my bottom annex tailbone which sent the impact further to my open vertebra that was protesting loudly against all this violence. Anyhow after I had recovered from the collision, I felt a pulsating pain in the back of my head where a big bump was appearing, and I tried to get up. In vain, all my joints reminded me that they were not able to help me and the only option was to call Vali at 3:00h at night.
After a few vain attempts I realized that my sleeping upstairs neighbor did not hear my cry for help. That meant that I had to find a way to move from horizontal to vertical position without help because the dogs sleeping in the living room did not understand why I was lying at the bottom of the stairs and did not stop sniffing with concern and were giving loving licks. The bars of the stairs finally were the solution. After some pulling and dragging, I got up after an eternity of 30 minutes. Admittedly with a pair of arms that felt at least 10 cm longer I stood upright. Anyway, I knew immediately that my weak body would take revenge. This was the truth and, in the days, after I was forced to rest (intermittently) and I had spectacular blue edges under the eyes due to the blow to my head. When Dirk was informed by Vali, he did not like at it and neither did I… One thing was sure, he decided that he would not leave me anymore with so many dogs!! And that without seeing me... So far, the E.R. episode.
Back to Dirk and Koen. After they kept me informed about their progress on the quiet roads and a control in Spain, they arrived in Casa Belgica at 21:00h in the evening after a 16-hour drive, a record time!! Like the dogs I was excited… After supper and the adoption story and other stories we felt sleepy and we went to bed, not before Dirk reminded the dogs that he was home and that the party was over. Apart from Tito’s protesting bark it was quiet that night. The next day I started together with Koen to select out of thousands analog photos a few ones that years ago I put together by year every now and then and that were now perfect for the photo reportage that Koen will prepare next year for GINB’s 25 years anniversary. Photos are the gate to memories and we soon were lost in the stories of that time. Stories that Koen absorbed like a sponge, he wanted to gather as much information as possible about GINB’s past quarter century to look back into the history of the organization. We had to take advantage of the time while he was around because the next day we must say goodbye again and he would leave with Dirk to the airport already at 6:00h.
It was a short night and after the goodbye I heard him say “bye Clémentine” before he went outside. As soon as Dirk was back Clémentine did a dance of joy and while he changed clothes she went to the bedroom with the sheepskin, something she had never done before and I said to her “the older, the crazier” … When we finished breakfast I continued with the photos that I still must put in chronological order. Boxes and boxes full, a real monk’s work. After a bowl of soup, I continued, and Dirk went to Julian to inspect the construction work. As usual Clémentine followed him into the garden. After a while she entered quickly and put her head a couple of times under my arm to greet me and walked in the direction of the living room. I was getting ready to let her in when she suddenly started to slide on the floor, as if she were skating. I first thought that it was wet, but not so, a second later she fell, and I heard some gruesome cries. I panicked and yelled to our curious dogs that they had to get outside immediately and then yelled at Dirk that Clémentine had a stroke and I went inside again crying.
Desperately I caress her shocking little body and whisper her name time after time to reassure her. When Dirk runs in a few seconds later her heart is hardly beating. And a little later it stops beating and she dies in my arms, as if she were waiting for him. For the first time since I have known Dirk he is in tears. Clémentine, his concubine and eternal admirer is gone. After almost 10 years she left in the same way as she arrived, suddenly. We were in shock and were left dazed and in disbelief. One thing was certain, heaven will as from now till eternity have one more twinkling star. That night she rested in her so precious van and at 8:00h she was picked up by a driver from the crematory where so many of her friends have gone before her. Two days later she was brought back to us and her family in an urn. Kika is next to me on my bedside table. Clémentine will be on Dirk’s where also Hercules is residing. The rest of their friends is watching from the cupboard where the urns are. And Loulou, Loulou is always with Dirk on a chain close to his heart.
Sunday 20th December 2020
In the morning I receive a mail message from Belén asking if I can help a galgo with a shattered paw. The attached photos make any explanation unnecessary. The galguero visited the local veterinarian to ask if it were still “repairable” but when he heard the costs the dog, a 2-year-old male, should be euthanized because he could never run again as before. The veterinarian refused and called Belén to ask if she could take him… Meanwhile the dog has been walking more than a week on 3 paws and must have hellish pains, according to the veterinarian the tendons are torn etc… I send a reply that of course I will help the dog and that we will come to pick him up in Medina on Tuesday. Although it is Sunday, I also send a mail and photos of the paw to Dr. De Frutos, he replies a little later that we can come on Tuesday at 9:00h. I inform Belén that our Tuesday’s appointment will be rescheduled to tomorrow and that we will be in the service station where we usually meet at 11:00h.
Monday 21st December 2020
At 14:00h we are back from the meeting with Belén after a 360km drive and we brought along a Christmas present… A gorgeous, proud, and majestic black male who is enduring his pain with dignity and despite his stumbling on 3 paws, he is extremely elegant. Even though the galguero gave him a Spanish name that means something like “asshole” as Belén told me. “Asshole” or “klootzak” (excuse my language) in proper Flemish!!! Who gives his dog a name like that!! The lack of respect and cruelty is in it and tells us a lot about the man who most probably has given his own nickname to his dog. Anyway, because I have given all the dogs that were cared for in Casa Belgica in 2020 a name starting with an E, I decide to name him Elvis because “only Elvis will survive” as sung by Luc De Vos. And now the era of “Elvis-the-galgo” has begun. As from now he will be taken care of, he will be helped at any cost and he is safe…
Because Dirk has promised to make photos today of the “newcomers” we leave an hour after our arrival to the shelter where we will meet Marie-Carmen and Pili. The road towards it is almost inaccessible due to mud and many holes and pits full of water. Pure horror, but it is nothing compared to the emotional and physical exhausting job that is waiting for us. When I think of all the hopeful tender looks my heart shrinks. I never get used to it, on the contrary. It is after 18:00h when we have finished and I return with a tormented heart to Casa Belgica where they are waiting impatiently for our return, their feeding time has been exceeded. Fortunately, Vali has fed them… Whew! The entire evening the many galgos on the photos keep haunting my mind. Where o where can I find all these families… Until late at night Dirk is putting the photos on the website. Hoping for the best….
Tuesday 22nd December 2020
Even before 8:00h we leave again to Talavera with Elvis on board of the jeep in drizzly weather. It is dark and cold, and our dogs do not feel like showing up they prefer to stay under the warm air of the airco in the kitchen. Idem for those in the living room who opened one eye indignantly because they were disturbed that early. Beyond all expectations it is busy on the road, the end-of-year exodus has started, in principle it is not allowed… The light signs above the highway indicate “only essential traveling”. Anyway, it is busy and in the opposite direction it is even busier, employees are hurrying to Madrid… As always, I am worried about a parking place close to the clinic because Elvis is a big male who cannot be carried easily into the clinic. Fortunately, we are lucky, in Talavera it is quiet compared to “usual” and there is almost no traffic and we can find without problem a parking place at 8:55h close to the clinic which is still closed. Not for long while Dirk lets out the dog Dr. De Frutos arrives and we can enter.
While Elvis is anesthetized, I give the doctor a summarized report of what was told to me. Most probably it was a hunting incident or else, tendons torn and injuries that are at least one week old. Half an hour later the X-ray session is finished, and we go to Dr. De Frutos’ office to listen to the verdict that is worse than what we were told. Not only the tendons are torn also the lower bone of the knee joint is broken and the kneecap has been catapulted upwards etc... Dr. De Frutos is realistic and says that the impact must have been enormous to cause so much damage. I have the choice, a risky operation of which the result cannot be predicted or amputation of the paw. No way amputation is considered, first we will try everything to save his paw and then we will see. My only question to the doctor is “an external frame”? Yes, indeed... I hate external frames, again a paw with an “Eifel tower” in the house!! A misery for the dog, for us and for the other dogs. But what must be done, will be done. Before we leave Dr. De Frutos assures that he will do everything possible to save his paw. Neither Dirk nor I doubt it… In the afternoon we receive the first photos together with good news. For now, his paw is saved!! Now it is our turn to take care of him and make the rehabilitation work perfectly. Dirk’s “task” …
Wednesday 23rd December 2020
Late in the afternoon Dirk is going to pick up Elvis. An hour and a half later they are home. Elvis is uncomfortable with the external frame at the outside of his paw which is very awkward to walk, to lie down, let alone to pass through the dog flap. By supper time he leaves the warm food for what it is, and his look is on infinity. A look full of hidden misery and few expectations. If only he could speak and tell what has been done to him. Time will heal the wounds meanwhile we let him get used to us, everything is allowed nothing is a must. In due course he will find out that he has nothing to fear from us, that he is safe and that he can safely close his eyes when he is tired, something he does not dare yet… Tomorrow we will celebrate Christmas Eve together with him and his 11 new friends, peace to all Spanish galgos, would that be too much to ask?...
Tuesday 29th December 2020
The time had come for the galgo with the fractured paw about whom Marie-Carmen told us that he or she would be brought in, and about whom we have been talking for more than a week already. Even though it was Sunday I have sent a mail to Dr. De Frutos, like I did last week, to make an appointment and he replied that we were expected on Tuesday at 9:00h. In fact, exactly a week after we drove to Talavera with Elvis for surgery, which seems like yesterday, Dirk will pick up this morning at 7:30h the frail white/black galgo female in the shelter. When we leave it is still pitch dark and the strong wind is blowing my hair to all sides, how do I hate it. What a weather I say to Dirk, and then they complain about Belgian weather… During the whole way it is busy despite the early hour and the mad wind continues to beat against the car. Now and then we have the wind behind us and earlier than usual we arrive in Talavera as the first “clients”. The female, of whom we can only now see properly the swollen and deformed wrist, is the first patient.
She is unusually quiet and sweet and small and above all creepy skinny and she lets Dr. De Frutos examine her painful paw without complaining. When she is anesthetized for X-rays and when she is weighed, she turns out to weigh barely 15 kg!! A walking shame for her ex-owners who apparently had no scruples because apart from the wounds on her hind paws that are witnessing that she was tied up for a long time she also seems to have given birth to a lot of pups. Anyway, we unfortunately cannot change her past, but we certainly can change her future. After all her misery she finally ended up under our wings and she was lucky in her misfortune. As from now we are going to make sure that she will have a more beautiful and safer future. When the X-rays are done, and we go to Dr. De Frutos’ office to look at them his first statement is that the wretched fracture is not a week old as they pretended but it is WEEKS old, and a piece of bone is missing!! That means that a tailor-made plate needs to be made which will only be ready tomorrow.
While she is still under anesthetic, he will sterilize her and do the usual necessary blood tests. He will inform us tomorrow about the course of the operation and about when she may be taken along. Besides Elvis with his external frame, we will have another just operated one needing a lot of care and weeks of rehabilitation, sigh… Moreover, Dirk leaves on the 10th January to Belgium for the adoption days but he will take along 4 of our dogs to relieve me. Phantastic but anyway I will have 2 extra dogs, and not the least, 2 who need extra care and attention… In fact, I will have 9 under my care when I am alone!! Well, I hope it stops there because the hunting season is in full action and spits out daily countless unusable and injured victims that find the way to Casa Belgica and Las Nieves. Even though I am worried to be alone I do not tell Dirk, but I try not to think about it too much. I will see when the time comes. I will be happy when during eventual nightly interventions I will not make “flip flops” … So far.
Thursday 31st December 2020
At 12:20h Dirk comes home with our New Year’s present for 2021!! He has picked up Elodie Ouédrago in Talavera in her “gift wrapping” after her operation and thus she can celebrate with us and her new friends the transition from old to new!!! Cheer up! …As soon as she is inside, and she endured the meet and greet with the other dogs she takes a good look at us. It looks as if she thinks, mmm these 2 Belgians, I already heard about them. I am at the right address; I will find peace here and I will get food and satisfy my hunger and be safe. That is certain, hopefully there will not be too many fireworks tonight and that the peace, the appetite and safety will not be disturbed too much. On to 2021 and 25 years of GINB!!!! May I wish you herewith a happy end of the year and a happy and healthy corona-free 2021 and at the same time I also want to thank you especially for everything and for your confidence in GINB.