Golden retrievers, german shepherds, cocker spaniels. These are all breeds of dogs that people are familiar with. However, there are a lot of dog breeds out there that aren’t widely known. The galgo, or Spanish greyhound, is one such dog.
Raised in Spain primarily for hunting tournaments, galgos are often traded around for a few years before their skills start to diminish, according to Tina Solera. Once they reach the age of 3, they’re often abandoned for younger more competitively-viable dogs.
Thousands of these dogs roam the streets with civilians paying them very little mind. They’re called “ghost dogs” for this reason. It’s horrible that galgos are abandoned and ignored like this.
Fortunately, Solera is taking action to change attitudes and ensure that these poor pooches find permanent homes.
It all started 2007. Solera moved from the UK to Spain with her husband and two young children. One day she was taking a walk through her new home of Murcia, a city in the southeast, when she noticed an injured galgo limping through piles of trash. Upon seeing this creature, she wasn’t frightened nor sad. She saw this as an opportunity.
“You know when you just have a feeling, like falling in love, when you can’t really describe it and it is just a feeling?” she told MNN. “I saw this noble, skinny creature walking down the street, so elegant but so skinny and abused but still wonderful. I just fell in love and thought, ‘Wow, that is a beautiful creature.'”
So, she took the dog in, something that the people in her community were not used to doing. There seemed to be a stigma around galgos: they were hunting dogs then street dogs and nothing else. Yet Solera wanted to change that.
She started letting galgos stay in her two-bedroom apartment.
It might not have been the best living situation, but it was certainly better than the small windowless sheds that these dogs have to stay in during their hunting careers. Plus, if she left them on the streets, there was a fairly good chance they would be brutalized or perhaps even killed!
“I thought that was crazy,” Solera said. “These dogs are amazing and are so noble and gentle and even after all of the abuse, they just look at you and want to love you and be loved.”
She did everything she could to take care of the dogs, having 14 dogs crammed into her home at one point, even sleeping in the car with sick rescued dogs to keep them away from her family before she could take them to the vets the next day.
The casual set-up continued for a while until it quickly became clear it was not sustainable, so, in 2011, Solera decided to take a more formal approach. She started a nonprofit rescue called Galgos del Sol despite having very little funding. The goal of the organization was to help hunting dogs find permanent homes.
Altho the GDS team extends much further than this we enjoyed the opportunity to grab a group photo and update you on how…
This, of course, included galgos but they weren’t the only dogs assisted there. Podencos, another common hunting dog, are frequently helped by the organization as well.
These hunting dogs seem to make up the overwhelming majority of dogs that experience extended stays at Spanish shelters. They are often looked over for more popular and well-known pet breeds.
“There is so much ignorance around it,” Solera said. “We are trying to get the locals to see what amazing companions they make and start adopting them.”
These six puppies were born on the streets. They have never had human contact and are quite frightened at the moment so…
Slowly but surely, with a huge amount of dedication and hard work, overcoming many hurdles, Solera and her organization have been able to turn things around for the hunting dogs. Donations and support have come in from all over the world, more galgos and podencos are being adopted, and she began noticing far less “ghosts” on the streets.
“I hardly see any galgos on the street because we got the message out to the galgueros [galgo breeders] that they just can’t dump their dogs,” Solera said. “But if they are responsible, we can help them.”
In 2014, they started the process of finally able to build a purpose-built education and rescue center to house the dogs all in one place—instead of being spread over three locations—with everything the dogs need to live a happy life until they find their forever homes. It came to fruition in 2016.
Galgos del Sol is presently looking after 150 dogs: a huge amount for sure but it’s nothing compared to the hundreds they’ve helped find homes over the years!
The dogs are adopted by new owners in the U.S. and Europe.
This little family were born on the streets. They have never had contact with humans so dod not want to be caught. Even at 3mths old they are incredibly smart. Heres what happened next… —————————————————————————- Esta pequeña familia nació en las calles. Nunca han tenido contacto con humanos por lo que no quieren ser atrapados. Incluso a los 3 meses de edad son increíblemente inteligentes. Aquí está lo que pasó después … #galgos #podencos #rescue #dogs #galgosdelsol #sponsor
“I have seen a huge improvement in the immediate area,” Solera said. “Before, I couldn’t leave the house without seeing a dead galgo every day on the motorway. I don’t see that so much now.”
If it weren’t for that chance encounter many years back, who knows what Solera would be doing. Yet now she’s helping a forgotten breed get a new lease (and leash) on life.
Getting ready to set off to Madrid with six lucky babies. Here is Sadi but who else is going??? Ahhh you will have to wait and see ❤️ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Preparándose para partir a Madrid con seis bebés afortunados. Aquí está Sadi, pero ¿quién más va a ir? Ahhh tendrás que esperar para saberlo…. ❤️ #galgos #podencos #rescue #dogs #galgosdelsol #six