Pasha - The bitter sweet story of a Galgo in Spain

We came to Spain over 7 years ago and built a house and studio in the
mountains of the Costa Blanca. Our ancient whippet lurcher Bill came
with us and lived in our shed while we built the house. We decided to
give a home to a Spanish galgo, so the timid but very beautiful Mia
joined us in our first year. Old Bill made 16 years and actually made it
into the new house and claimed his spot. When he died we took on another
Galgo Pasha who already came with an interesting and checkered history.
At about 5 years old she was found starving and abandoned as is the
fate of many other galgos. She was brought back to health by Mandy and
Alan of Maserof kennels. Pasha was lucky to find a home eventually with
somebody but the man had not had much experience of dogs. He made the
mistake of tying her up to his trailer while he went fishing. In her
struggle to get free she badly smashed both bones in her front leg. The
man felt very sorry and to his credit took her to the vets and spent a
lot of money having the leg rebuilt with steel pins and an external
cage. He found it difficult to cope and after two weeks took her back to
the kennels. Mandy did a wonderful job nursing her back to health but
Pasha was left with a leg that would never really mend and no home. At
this time old Bill died and Mandy gave me a call. We decided to give her
a try. She was about 7 years old by this time and the first 3 days
settling in with Mia were a rough ride with a number of battles as they
established the basis of their relationship. Pashas's first love for
food gave her the edge at feeding time and Mia's attachment to her new
home sorted out the accommodation arrangements.
I have had several lurchers but Pasha very soon turned out to be a
character above them all. For a galgo she was very clever or should I
say cunning. A life on the road had turned her into a bit of a Fagan
character; she was a thief like any good running dog and always worked
on the assumption that she could not really depend on where the next
meal was coming from. There were many instances where she was caught
slipping past the window like a spirit with a cake or a loaf of bread in
her mouth sneaking off to her little casita. When guests stayed shoes,
cardigans, i phones and on one occasion a double D cup bra would
disappear during the night. She had had nothing in her life so she
collected like a magpie and to give her credit when you checked her
place in the morning you could see that she had a real flare for
interior decoration. She spent her days no more than 3 meters away from
me and was wonderfully affectionate with all the grandchildren,
completely happy that this was her new adopted family. To be fair she
was lucky in that the next five years of her life were very happy ones.
On September 28th things came to an abrupt end. For ten days she had a
wonderful time playing with 4 grandkids, greeting them often with her
own garbled howl talk. We took the family to the airport in Alicante in
the afternoon and on our return she was gone. Of late we often left the
dogs around the house when we went out. It is in the mountains with
hardly a soul around and Pasha was at least 13 and Mia 10 so they were
very content to lounge around galgo style with perhaps an occasional
stroll down the hill. We searched everywhere and considered all possible
explanations. I visited all the neighbours and left posters in the best
places. I repeated searches using Mia and her good nose and drove
endlessly around the whole area. 48 hours later I was revisiting a place
when Mia's nose lifted and she took off. It was s
potting with rain and the day was heavy with an ominous thundery
atmosphere, I had a feeling I was going to find her so I ran to keep up
with Mia. We struggled though the gorse and pinchos along and up the
bancales until even I could smell her.
The picture I witnessed is fixed in my mind and will be for many years.
She was caught upside down in a cable snare; a simple lasso made of 4mm
cable and attached to a log. She had come from the bancal above, got
caught in the snare and fell over the edge. The body had gone through
the loop of wire and had caught her around the narrowest part of her
stomach. She was left suspended upside down and left to die. In her
struggle to get free the wire had cut deeply into her skin and blood
poured over her body; she must have been blown by flies within minutes.
The poor old girl died in agony and despair.
I am writing this only four hours after I found her with my eyes so
full I can hardly see. I am wrecked at losing her and I am angry, so in
that time I have become resolved to do something positive on her behalf
and maybe to help other galgos in Spain. It was so hard but I have been
back to photograph her so that I have the evidence that will provide a
shocking contrast to the other wonderful photos that show Pasha as a
happy contented dog. I want to make it as real and as extreme as I can
so that people are moved. There are lots of photos of poor dogs and
terrible cruelty to nameless galgos but Pasha had a name and was real
with her own life story that can be told in detail. The first part of
her life was clearly one of neglect leading to near starvation as a
result of the appalling attitude that some Spanish hunters have towards
their dogs. The end of her life was also at the hands of hunters setting
illegal traps to catch wild boar,Jabalis, a particularly cruel way to
die. If she had not died in the snare it could have been the pieces of
bone with the marrow laced with strychnine supposedly left to kill foxes
so that the hunters would be able to kill more of the red legged
partridge, the perdiz. Or it could have been that the hunter simply shot
the dog having seen little else to kill that day. I have seen a so
called hunter with 6 song thrushes threaded onto a wire on his belt only
100 meters from my house and delighted with his days hunting. This is
not supposition or exaggeration; I could quote several examples of all
these instances from my valley alone.
I am not against all hunting, especially in Spain, that would be
unrealistic. I just want that some of the Spanish hunters change their
attitude and become more responsible and caring about what they do and
this alone could effectively prevent far less suffering of hunted
animals and the so called hunters friend the dog.
Before I came to Spain I knew little of what goes on here. The story of
Pasha is the sort of story that is real and therefore could interest
people in other countries and therefore be used to exert some sort of
pressure or at the very least awareness on people who do not know.
If anybody has links with publications who may be interested then
please contact me. I am happy to rewrite or expand the story of Pasha so
that she did not suffer her terrible death in vain.