Judy Paulsen, president of the greyhound rescue group, Greyhound Companions of New Mexico (GCNM), recently brought a Podenco from Spain to Albuquerque. She graciously shared some information with Tucson Tails.
Here’s a shining example of how far one rescue group will go to a rescue a dog.
A Podenco is a Spanish Ibizan hound or Pharaoh hound (in the sight hound family). The Podenco breed came from the Canary Islands. Podencos from Spain are classified by the area of Spain from which they come.
While somewhat familiar with the Galgo meaning Spanish greyhound, Tucson Tails had no knowledge about the Podenco. Apparently the two have different coat types from smooth to rough. Galgos are built with streamlined, long heads, flat musculature – they are endurance dogs as opposed to racing greyhounds that are sprinters. Podencos are built for jumping and not nearly as fast as the galgo or racing greyhound. Podencos are snails compared to galgos.
Galgos are used for hunting on flatter lands, whereas Podencos are capable of hunting in mountainous regions due to their tremendous ability to jump, almost like a mountain goat.
Trece is the first Podenco to come to GCNM. Trece means 13 in Spanish and is Paulsen’s lucky number.
Trece was found abandoned on a street in Spain. A hunter had been trying to catch him to see if he could hunt with him. Galgo Connection Spain (GCS) volunteers tried to capture him as well, but had no luck. Trece finally became weak and could no longer run away, so he was captured by the hunter who tried using him to hunt, but gave up and took him to GCS since they had been trying to catch him too.
Trece was very thin and weak when surrendered to GCS. He had almost half an ear missing and a large laceration down the side of his face. He was that way when they first sighted him, so it’s likely this happened prior to being abandoned.
It’s not uncommon to notch the ears of hunting dogs, presumably like a brand so the hunters can tell their dogs from others. However, that’s just an assumption. The scar on the side of his face may have happened when his ear was sliced off.
Trece then went into a foster home in Spain where he began to adapt well.
As fate would have it, another dog was supposed to be flown to JFK Airport along with a group of several hounds that were going into U.S. greyhound rescue groups in April 2013. However, that dog fell ill and died, so there was an opening for another dog to make the journey. Telma Shaw of Galgo Rescue International Network (GRIN) called Paulsen as she knew her interest in helping galgos/podencos. Apparently, Trece’s foster parents were leaving on an extended vacation and no one else could foster Trece, so he was going to be put back into the receiving kennels which they didn’t want as he made so much progress in his foster home.
Trece’s name was changed to Tommy, in honor of the galgo who was supposed to come to America, but died.
The procedure to get Trece/Tommy out of Spain was not without complexities and costs. First, he was transported by car to Madrid from his foster home. He had to get a passport and a health certificate. He had already been neutered and tested for various diseases common in that area.
He was flown from Madrid to JFK on April 7, 2013 – where he met a human escort who flew on the plane with him, though he was in cargo. The human escort is referred to as an Air Patron. Upon arrival at JFK, they were met by representatives of greyhound adoption groups, and then taken to foster homes.
Tommy stayed in a foster home in New York to recover from the flight and also to wait for GCNM to coordinate getting an air patron to fly from Denver to JFK to meet the foster parents and then quickly get Tommy on a plane and back to Denver.
The person in Colorado who was Tommy’s air patron was Lisa Swartz; she’s been in greyhound rescue for many years and also made the trip to Spain to work at the shelters where the galgos/podencos are kept. She left Denver on April 13, to retrieve Tommy. Flying on Delta on a non-revenue standby pass, she had to do some quick shuffling at JFK to get Tommy checked in for the flight back to Denver. She had about an hour turnaround time! Had Lisa been bumped, they would not have put Tommy on the plane. Of course, these women are very detailed and skilled in what they do. There was a Plan B, but fortunately wasn’t needed.
Lisa and Tommy arrived back in Denver and were met at the airport by Judy Greenfield, a Colorado greyhound rescue volunteer. Judy then kept Tommy overnight at her home. She headed for Trinidad, Colorado, the next day to meet Paulsen and Tommy’s new mom, Noreen. He was a little timid and insecure, but seemed to warm up quickly on the trip back to Albuquerque. Noreen sat in the back seat so she could start the bonding process.
Tommy’s adopter and her partner had two galgos they’d adopted from GCNM two years ago. Those two galgos were bought by a New Mexico hunter while still puppies. He flew them to NM from Europe. They were rough-coated galgos – one male, one female. The male suffered a serious head injury when he collided with something while out hunting in the field. The hunter surrendered both dogs to GCNM at 6 years old. The galgos were very bonded. The male named Wylie passed away in late March, and the female was very lonely, which is how a home was found for Tommy so quickly.
Tommy and his galga-friend, Cyd, are now inseparable. Tommy has adjusted well and is playful, gaining weight, and looking great. He absolutely loves toys and is hardly ever without one.
The cost to bring Tommy to GCNM was $1,325. Two more galgas (females) will be coming from Spain on June 5.
If you are a rescue group considering Podencos, please note that they are high energy dogs and need exercise – much more than a retired racing greyhound. Podencos are very friendly with other dogs, as has been observed.
I asked Paulsen why GCNM was not getting retired racing greyhounds from the South Tucson dog track? She said that Tucson Greyhound Park is allegedly forbidding any of their trainers or kennel operators to give dogs to GCNM and other groups that take a position against dog racing. Other trainers/kennel owners have apparently been bullied into not offering GCNM dogs anymore, as she has not received any calsl to take dogs; whereas in the past, trainers ignored the bullying and threats from industry people and brought dogs to GCNM.
Paulsen recently posted on her website that because of this boycott, GCNM would start taking in various breeds – some sight hounds, some not. This move has paid off as shelters have started to call with greyhounds, greyhound mixes, and Italian greyhounds, which GCNM has also been rescuing for years.
It seems to Tucson Tails, if the dog racing industry really cares about their dogs like they constantly say they do – GCNM is an excellent group for their retired racers – regardless of politics.
The greyhounds’ loss is the Podencos and Galgos’ gain. GCNM will continue to help these breeds after what they have suffered in Spain at the hands of the galgueros (Spanish hunters) as well as to educate us Americans about this animal cruelty in Spain.
In spite of the fact there are laws (though fairly recent) that forbid the hanging, torture and abandoning of these dogs at the end of every hunting season, the tradition continues. Why? Partly because some government agents who are responsible for enforcing the laws are hunters who use/abuse galgos and podencos. Also, much of the hangings and other atrocities these dogs suffer are committed on private lands and the government agents are not allowed to go onto private property to investigate any complaints of abuse or killings.
(So many parallels to greyhound racing from mutilating the ears, i.e. tattoos for identification and lack of government regulation and intervention.)
Perhaps money talks and people’s minds can be changed about Spain tourism? Or if they go, consider spending some time helping at the shelters.
Paulsen first learned about the plight of the galgo 10 years ago when she was looking online for greyhound sculptures and found a gorgeous one. She contacted the sculptor and asked if he had an online portfolio. He provided the link and while perusing his work, she came across a sculpture of a tree with a greyhound hanging from it. She asked why anyone would want to depict such a gruesome sight and his answer was, “Hanging of the galgos is a tradition in Spain.” Needless to say, she did not purchase any of his work.
Paulsen plans to visit Spain in the fall along with several others so they can work in the shelters and help out. She knows it will be painful to witness the condition of many of these dogs, but shutting one’s eyes does not make the problem disappear. Paulsen has never been one to ignore animal abuse, no matter where in the world it may be.
She recommends an excellent book on the suffering of hunting dogs in Spain: From Heaven to Hell – The Story of the Galgo Espanol by Beryl Brennan. You can read a review here.
She worked with the following organizations:
Thank you Judy Paulsen for all you do for the greyhounds, galgos, podencos, coyotes, and horses. You can follow GCNM on Facebook.