The Galgo

El Galgo

The galgo has a slender and agile body designed to perfection to run at speeds of up to 65 kilometers an hour (40 miles an hour). Running is their passion and they like to run at full speed during short periods of time. They then need to rest and recover in a soft bed or the owners favourite sofa. Galgos can sleep up to 18 hours a day, but in between they will need to run 2 or 3 times.
As a rule they are sociable dogs that enjoy human and dog company. They love to sleep together very close, so if you have more dogs, get some large beds where it will be able to nestle against the other dogs.

Some galgos like children, but many dread them because they have been badly treated by them. So, if you have children and have thought of adopting a galgo, please ask how the galgo you are interested in adopting behaves with children. Most galgos are terrified of men and even a mans voice can make them run away. This is due to the high rate of men that mistreat animals in Spain. With cats, galgos react in many different ways: some are scared of them and run away, others show interest but don’t do anything, a few adore cats and would even defend them if another cat or dog got close and the rest have a very strong hunting instinct and would hunt a cat down.

How to educate your galgo:

Galgos learn most things if taught with affection. They can be stubborn, but this is not an obstacle to learning, you must only be patient.

The first thing you must teach your galgo is to come when called. The first times you take your galgo for a walk take it on a lead, a harness and a martingale collar or in a safely fenced in area with a fence of more than 2.5 meters high. Once the galgo and you have got to know each other and your galgo listens to your call, you will be able to let it loose and you will both be able to enjoy: the galgo running and you watching it!

Galgos in Spain

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The problem

In Spain galgos are most of the time seen as hunting tools or reproductive machines that give their owners the possibility of making money out of them. The problem is that every bitch can give birth to an average of 10 puppies twice a year, if only 1 or 2 are “usefull” or are sold, what happens to the ones that are left over?

They are abandoned, handed in to the killing stations where they are put down or killed by their owners in the most horrendous ways. The tradition is to hang them for the tres, but they also thrown them into wells, if full they drown if empy they die of starvation, others are driven over by cars, others are shot down and the “nicest” galgueros hand them in to shelters and go home feeling “good”… But none of these are solutions to stop overpopulation.

The conditions in which galgos live are most of the time inhumane. The galgueros have large groups of galgos living in “corralones” which are storage rooms or small garages scattered around the village. Light and ventilation are a luxury.

In the past, galgos simbolized a high social and economic status. Only the royalty and the nobles had the possibility of having them.

Nowadays it’s a symbol of animal cruelty and of shame for many spaniards that love animals and cannot understand or share such cruel behaviour. Abroad these behaviours are harshly critizised and affect Spain in a very negative way.

 

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The solutions

Fortunately the problem can be solved. Some solutions can be handled by us, others have to come from the government. Some are short-term others long-term.

Short-term solutions:
  • Laws should be stricter and law enforcement even more strict to set an example.
  • The competent authorities should control the health and higiene of all animals and force their owners to have them identified, vaccinated and in optimum conditions. All dogs should live in specially designed and equiped kennels, with proper light and ventilation, and sufficient water and food.

As for now this is not the reality, the shelters and other non-for-profits keep rescuing galgos from the streets or directly from the hunters, to later on rehabilitate them and find them the home they deserve.

Long-term solutions the estate should put into practice:
  • Add moral values  to the estate education, such as respect and love towards our world and that which surrounds us, responsible ownership, adoption as the first option and castration and identification as solutions to dog overpopulation.
  • Promote responsable adoptions from the NGOs and the private companies that manage the killing stations
  • Demand free all-year-around castration and identifications campaigns to the town halls.

After reading this, you will probably think I’m a deluded soul writing about a utopia, but I prefer to say I’m optimistic. If solutions exist, then there is also hope that slowly many more people will be aware of the situation and will fight for those solutions to become a reality.

If you also think we can improve, do your bit by talking to your neighbours, friends and family about these issues. You will probably make someone think. If only 1 person changes their mind, you have achieved a lot.

If you already have a galgo, here you have some information you might find usefull:

15 Interesting galgo facts:
  1. When running they spend 75% of the time in the air
  2. The galgos tail works as a rudder while running
  3. They can detect objects that are more than 800 meters away
  4. They have a range of vision of 270º; detecting objects that are behind them
  5. Galgos have stereoscopic sight. This allows them to see moving object better than when they are still
  6. They have a higher amount of red blood cells, more than any other breed. This means they can send more oxygen to their muscles and run faster.
  7. They all belong to the universal blood group, making them excellent blood donors for other dogs
  8. It’s the most healthy dog breed regarding the development of hereditary diseases or genetic predisposition.
  9. Galgos have a higher body temperatura than any other dog breed
  10. They are excellent jumpers. There have been galgos that have jumped 9,14 meters high.
  11. Most galgos have a problem with sitting down or find it very uncomfortable. So please, when educating it, teach it to lay down or stay still, but don’t force it to sit down.
  12. Many famous people in history have had galgos, such as Cleopatra, Al Capone, Frank Sinatra and Leonard Nimoy
  13. The galgo, hound of pharaohs, kings and czars. In the past, the galgo was reserved for the rich, the nobles, aristocrats and of course the royalty
  14. The galgo is the only breed mentioned in the Bible.
  15. Be aware! Galgos are very addicitve, When you have one, you want another one, and another one, and another one…

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Poem dedicated to the galgos in Spain:

Your face, soft and thin, reminds me of Seth, egiptian master of the storm.

Your graceful and beautifully slender body hides a great insult.

Heartless souls throw you to dark wells, letting you die in terrible loneliness.

Inhumane creatures abandon you without feeling any pitty for you.

Uncivilized rabble torture you to death by hanging you from a tree and enjoying your agony.

Your pleading and sad eyes show your incomprehension of your owners hard and cold heart.

What you will never understand is that you have become a tool to be used and chucked out.

You are one more victim of this ill society, that wants to continue living a terrible lie.

These people forget that loyalty and unconditional love cannot be bought in a shopping centre.

It is clear that humanity cannot continue like this.

When a human being forgets its conscience and throws another living being for it to suffer a terrible death, he becomes inhumane.

You might ask yourself if there are still people that suffer with your suffering.

We are a few who fight for your dignity , but I am sure more people will join us to fight for your dignity.

Faithful friend, we are going through dark times, but there is always a ray of light that will win the fight against vanity.

The high-handedness of those that treat dispose of your life as if gods, might one day be destroyed by thousand rays of light.

Leonor.

Translated from “El rincón de la justicia”

Galgo und Kind

After reading the galgo facts and the poem you will probably ask yourself, why are they so mistreated in Spain? How can they not value an animal with so many positive qualities?

Because they don’t attack, they don’t bite.

Because they do not defend themselves.

Because they are sensitive.

Because they are seen as a hunting tool, not as a dog.

Disgracefully, it continues to be like that and even the new generations seem to think in the same way. To explain it, a personal experience:

I was walking with a just-rescued galgo through the streets of La Puebla de Cazalla. On the other side of the street I saw a mother walking with her 6 year old daughter. When the mother saw us, she immediatelly pointed at us and said “honey, look, look at that dog”, her daughter looked up at her and said “no, mom, that’s not a dog, thats a galgo”.

It might not be shocking for you, but for the people that fight for them every day of our lives, it is painfull to watch. When will they be seen as sentient beings? They feel, suffer and are very sensitive.

We will see them like feeling creatures when it will be taught in schools that animals have feelings and that we need to take care of nature and our world. When we realice that we are not the only ones that feel and suffer. When we become more human and start to treat them like equals.

If you are this sensible already, think that its contageous, so please keep setting the example and try to talk to those that haven’t yet realized what a beautifull world we live in and how important we all are.

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