I thought it was about time that I told you all about Alan.
After the sad loss of Hamish in 2008 I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to cope, emotionally, with another dog. After all, Hamish was such a special dog and had been a part of my life for so long, I knew he’d be a hard act to follow.
The December of that same year brought ‘Jack’ into our lives. Jack had been found, by our neighbour, wandering in the main road . It was very close to Christmas, and the municipal dog pound really didn’t want another stray so he was brought to our neighbour’s property.
It was hoped he might settle with the other guard dogs that he already had. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way – Jack turned out to be the biggest wimp – bullied by the other dogs and quite the escape artist to boot! Our lovely neighbour had to chain him up in the end – but that didn’t stop him! Returning from seeing in 2009 with friends we noticed the chain & collar dangling over the fence – He’d legged it! The following morning we heard frantic barking outside the back of our house – It was Jack – he’d managed to break IN to ours! So with us he stayed until March. He was a big, strong dog – too strong for me. If he took it into his head to chase something while we were out walking, I became a passenger. I also realised that I wasn’t yet ready for another dog. Re-homing his was easy, though, (thankfully) many people out here seem to want dogs like him.
Come the summer of 2009 things were returning to what is considered ‘normal’ by our standards. The new extension was being built and we were blessed by numerous visitors from the UK.
Nearing the end of the summer, a white Galgo (Spanish Greyhound) was seen roaming the Sierra, and the municipal tip, and just about everywhere, really. For those who are unaware, thousands of Galgos are abandoned in Spain every year. They are still used for Hare Coursing, and if they don’t hunt, they are cast aside. The ‘lucky’ ones are taken to the Council Dog Pound where, after a short period of time, if they are not claimed/re-homed they are destroyed. Lucky? Well yes, because the majority of them are either turned out into the streets or worse, left to starve to death. There are many voluntary organisations who do their best to save them, but with little or no funding, their task is a huge one!
Now whether this Galgo had been abandoned or not, we simply will never know. It could be that he ran away, or just got lost. But however he became homeless, it was sad to see such a beautiful animal in such a lamentable situation.
The trouble with stray dogs is that they are constantly shooed away by practically everyone that they approach. Which eventually makes them very scared of humans.
This particular Galgo started hanging around our property, probably because of the dogs next door. As the summer ended and autumn commenced, he was starting to look very thin, and he had wounds to his ribs and legs. We started leaving our gates open and tried talking softly to try and encourage him in, but he was so mis-trusting by this time that he didn’t come near. I started putting out the scraps from our meals (instantly attracting about three dozen cats) which he willingly accepted.
At about this time Phil had nearly completed a brick building for us to store the wood in. One day he was finishing the roof. He was in a bit of rush as it looked like it would rain. Sure enough, as the first drops started to fall, Phil ran to the house to take shelter. The Galgo came flying in through the gate and into the wood shed. This was to be his home for the Winter.
We bought dog food and started to feed him in his shed. I found some old blankets and we put them in the shed for him to be a little warmer. And little by little he would let us get closer to him. I was able to clean his wounds and check him over for any other injuries. That winter was particularly wet – but he seemed happy enough in his shed.
By March of the following year, we decided that he may as well stay. We had, by this time, got him into a harness and he would enjoy his walks – he trusted us.
We made it all formal at the Vets – microchip, passport, vaccinations. He took it all in his stride, although I was very thankful that the floor of the vets was tiled as I had to drag him in.
All was going perfectly until August 2011. He was now welcome in the house, a well mannered dog with a liking for sleeping on the sofa, and our bed. Although he was still very nervous of other people, he wasn’t such a coward any more.
One Saturday morning we awoke to a living room that looked like a scene from CSI – there was blood everywhere! At first we just thought that he’d hit his nose, but couldn’t find an injury. Thankfully a friend I knew on Facebook had encountered the symptoms before. ‘It’s Leishmaniasis‘ she said. Those words are about the worst a dog owner can hear – it is a horrible disease, there is no known cure. Of course, this was all happening during the local Fiestas, so getting blood tests and waiting for the results took, what seemed to be, forever. Finally the diagnosis was given, yes, he had the disease. The treatment is expensive. For this reason, many dogs who are diagnosed, are destroyed. But not this one! Every morning for 30 days I injected him with 9ml of the treatment, as well as the tablets which he was one for six months! His blood test in March was a worry. But fortunately his result was negative. This doesn’t mean that he’s cured, but the chance of recurrence is lessened.
There are one or two downsides, one of which has led him to sometimes be called ‘Chemical Alan’ – you never actually hear him fart, the first thing you know is the stinging in your eyes and throat. Honestly, he should be banned under the Geneva Convention! The other is bed(or sofa) hogging – he slides up in between us and then extends his legs like some kind of car jack, leaving him with the majority of the bed, and both of us hanging on to the sides of the mattress trying not to fall out!
And why Alan? when there are so many other names? The BBC once had a series called ‘A Walk on The Wild Side‘ – where scenes from wildlife documentaries were dubbed with actors voices to make it appear as though the animals were talking – – we used to sit on the terrace, watching him when he was still a wanderer and would joke about trying to call him. So it was either Alan, or Steve!
He really is part of the family now. And to anyone reading this who is thinking about adopting a rescue dog, I can thoroughly recommend the breed, be it a Spanish Galgo if you’re here in Spain, or a retired racing Greyhound, if you are elsewhere.
Alan was lucky – he rescued himself – there are many others who need your help!