March 29, 2012

Happy Birthday A.C.E.

Happiness looks like this and makes everything worth while. These sweet faces are some of the lucky ones who found their golden baskets in Holland in December 2011 and January and February this year.  This not all the dogs who were adopted as others went to loving families in Belgian and Denmark and other countries. And yes, they are lucky and they are truly deserving, but it isn't just a question of luck. None of this would have happened without immense effort and hard work, heartache, sorrow sleepless nights and rugged determination. And love - so much love for these and all the other darlings who are still waiting for their golden baskets. 

Thank you Fabienne and Dirk, everyone working or helping at  El Refugio and all the other shelters, to the loving adopters, the amazing foster parents, to all the volunteers and the students, in Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany - and throughout Europe . I saw on the A.C.E. Facebook page that you've just had your 12th anniversary, or is it 13th. These sweet faces represent just some of the latest ones who now have a secure and loving future, thanks to your love and care. 

A special thanks to Ineke Jongeleen, who is responsible for the wonderful Dutch blog. It is she who put together these splendid collages - it must have taken ages but was well worth it as you can see. 


In February 2012 these lovely dogs got the chance they so deserve

The new year gave these sweeties a new life in January 2012

Christmas wishes came true for these little ones who were adopted in December 2011

March 26, 2012

Giotto - sweet little bear, longing for a home of his own

Look at that sweet little bear face.

This touchingly beautiful dog, a small Podenco called Giotto, was thrown over the wall of the former dog pound at Algeciras, simply because he wasn't a good hunter.  Just if he' was a piece of dirt, instead of a scared, sweet little dog. He's safe now but he's so sad. He needs a home of his own. He's cuddled and cared for, but there's nothing he needs more than his very own warm basket, his very own loving family. He's a quiet little soul, so quiet he gets overlooked. Who is going to rescue this sweet chap and love him the way he deserves?

                                    How he loves his cuddles - he so deserves them.

Giotto is a Podenco, he's only 4 years old and just 40cm high. 
Reference 2367 - Algeciras Protectorat 

March 24, 2012

Intelligent and loving, good with children and even cats ...

... so why is the Podenco one of the most abused breeds in Spain?

When I first discovered El Refugio and A.C.E. I’d already come across the Galgo, the Spanish version of the greyhound but I’d never heard of the Podenco.  Enzio changed that. He became my sponsor dog - I chose him because he looked so sad and frightened.  And no wonder. The Podenco is one of the most abused animals in Spain. 

Enzio - as a frightened puppy

Enzio’s story ended happily. He’s now called Vasco and living with his wonderful adopters in Holland, loved and cherished as it should be.  He truly was fortunate, in the end. Which is not the case with so many of his breed. Used, abused, abandoned, tortured and mutilated. That’s the fate of so many of these faithful dogs. The end of the hunting season sees cruelty beyond belief.

What a difference a year makes

For the Podenco is a hunting dog, a hound with a highly developed sense of sight, smell and hearing. Their big, alert and upright ears are the hallmark of the breed. They are graceful, elegant and agile yet rugged and hardy. They come in small, medium and large. Rough haired, longhaired and wire haired. In colouring red, white or a combination of the two.

Leo - young and afraid. Who will teach him to trust again?

No dog, indeed no animal, deserves to be badly treated. Still less an animal so sensitive, so affectionate, bright and intelligent. Yet Podencos are abused in the most appalling fashion in Spain. Those that end up in animal shelters are often timid at best, more often than not terrified of humans.  And no wonder. They are for the most part owned by hunters who, like many others in Spain, see no need to neuter their animals.

Adyn- already four years old and still waiting

As a consequence, there is always a steady supply of young dogs to take the place of the older ones. Those puppies that are not needed are disposed of, in the garbage, by the side of the road and worse. Those faithful dogs and bitches who have served their time – a year, maybe two – are hung from the trees. If they are not hung they are taken a distance away and their legs broken so they can’t make it back, or they are stuffed down drains, burnt or kicked to death. They are not considered worth a bullet or a clean death.

Sweet Zinderella - used as a breeding machine

Those who find themselves in shelters like El Refugio, are fortunate indeed. Even if they are horribly injured they’ll be given a fresh start, beginning with a good meal, medical treatment and, of course, lots of cuddles. It can take months and more to help them get over their trauma. But once they do, they make the most wonderful pets. Not only are they loving and bright and good with children but they also get on well with other dogs. 

Vanni - craving for a boss of her own

Some have an independent streak but they take well to training. They love to run and are generally obedient off the lead. Like the Bodeguero *, the Podenco can be something of a clown. They are great fun to be around. Possibly because of ignorance of the breed, Podencos are often overlooked when people are adopting.  In this respect they are similar to Bodequeros. Yet both breeds are so worth rescuing, they make a delightful addition to a family, even a family with cats, certainly a family with other dogs and children. I hope this blog will spread the word and educate people to this great breed and encourage more adopters to offer them the longed for golden basket.

You can read more about the breed on Wikipedia, Azahounds, Podenco Rescue and many other sites.

* Discover more about the wonderful Bodegueras, the little dogs that smile, on this blog - dated 5th March.

March 23, 2012

A kiss from Ali, Barby and Klaudia ... plus some sleepy cats

Here are some more great pictures from Fabienne ....

Snuggle corner ...
Time to sleep now ...
Maybe it's more comfy with the cats ...
Hello cats ... can I join you?

March 17, 2012

Poodle Bill ....

Fabienne has sent me these great photographs of 'Poodle Bill', one of our volunteers with the two poodles he's adopted. "They look fabulous and are so happy, they have been spoiled and loved.  It's wonderful to see their happiness and to see how proud Bill is of his two white babies..!"

I am not absolutely sure if I have got your name right, Bill, as there were two different names mentioned in the email. Perhaps someone would let me know.  Clodagh

March 16, 2012

From Justine - a poem that says it all

A little while ago I received an email from Justine, who had read this blog. She enclosed this poem saying "I thought it was really beautiful when I read it and immediately I thought about the fantastic work that you all do at A.C.E."  It's taken me a while to post it, sorry about that, but many thanks to Justine for sending it. The pictures of Wayne come from the Dutch blog, posted by Ineke and from the A.C.E. website. Thanks for those too.

Wayne, living on the streets

Once I was a lonely dog,
 Just looking for a home.
 I had no place to go,
 No one to call my own.
 I wandered up and down the streets,
 in rain, in heat, and snow.
 I ate whatever I could find,
 I was always on the go.

My skin would itch, my feet were sore,
 My body ached with pain,
 And no one stopped to give a pat
 Or to gently say my name.
 I never saw a loving glance,
 I was always on the run.
 For people thought that hurting me
 was really lots of fun.

And then one day I heard a voice
 So gentle, kind and sweet,
 And arms so soft reached down to me
 And took me off my feet.
 "No one again will hurt you."
 Was whispered in my ear.
 "You'll have a home to call your own
 where you know no fear."
 "You will be dry, you will be warm,
 you'll have enough to eat
 And rest assured that when you sleep,
 your dreams will all be sweet."

I was afraid, I must admit,
 I've lived so long in fear.
 I can't remember when I let
 A human come so near.

And as she tended to my wounds
 And bathed and brushed my fur
 She told me about the rescue group
 And what it meant to her.

She said, "We are a circle,
 A line that never ends.
 And in the center there is you
 protected by new friends."
 "And all around you are
 the ones who check the pounds,
 And those who share their homes
 after you've been found."
 "And all the other folks
 who are searching near and far,
 To find the perfect home for you,
 where you can be a star."

She said, "There is a family,
 that's waiting patiently,
 and pretty soon we'll find them,
 just you wait and see."
 "And then they'll join our circle
 they'll help to make it grow,
 so there'll be room for more like you,
 who have no place to go."

I waited very patiently,
 The days they came and went.
 Today's the day I thought,
 my family will be sent.
 Then just when I began to think
 it wasn't meant to be,
 there were people standing there,
 just gazing down at me.

I knew them in a heartbeat,
 I could tell they felt it too.
 They said, "We have been waiting
 for a special dog like you."

Now every night I say a prayer
 to all the gods that be.
 "Thank you for the life I live
 and all you've given me.
 But most of all protect the dogs
 in the pound and on the street.
 And send a Rescue person
 to lift them off their feet."

Wayne, safe in the Refugio.  Waiting now for his golden basket. Will you be his new family?

March 13, 2012

Snapshot of the Refugio March 12th ....

Today as well as looking after the dogs, the volunteers are doing some cuddling, students are busy painting and Mike's up a ladder too - it's all making it look so nice and happy. It makes me very homesick ...

 Our students working on decorations for the refugio ...

A nice colour on our portakabins

Belgian volunteers with Sowenta, the 'new' old  Rotweiler ...


Sweet Esther

Thanks to Fabienne for the photographs and update.

A Guide Dog Puppy's Tale ....

A brief insight into the first year in the life of a guide dog puppy and the role of a puppy walker.  We have a grown up guide dog in our family - he's called Taylor and he belongs to my niece.  He has his own Facebook page! And he looks rather like Hester - only bigger!

March 11, 2012

Pictures speak louder than words - some of our beautiful dogs in Denmark

It's wonderful to see dogs from El Refugio being so loved and spoilt and taken care of in Denmark. We are so very grateful to these wonderful people who have adopted them.


 What a sweet face

 The gang's all here

 Having fun

Happy dogs and happy boss

 Just look at that face ...

 Run ...
 ... run ... run ... run

 Best beloveds



A well deserved rest.

Can't wait to get going

March 10, 2012

Bob the Cat and James

Bob and James have become quite well known around London in the last few years.  James is a homeless man, living in a hostel, who befriended Bob when he found him injured.  They have now written a book, which is being launched at Waterstones in Islington on Tuesday 13th March. Their regular pitch is outside Angel Tube, in Islington but they are often to be seen around Covent Garden. I first noticed them years ago when Bob was trotting along beside James, a most unusual sight.  Since then I have met them in various places including, a few weeks ago, on the 38 bus. It's a most heartwarming story and I hope James and Bob will have many more happy years together.

March 08, 2012


Who will help us pay for them?

Malu - just one of the many little ones waiting to go home

So many puppies are ready to go, a lot of deserving dogs are also so eager to leave for their golden baskets. But we have no flights to put them on so they can’t get home. So we’re making this appeal to find people who would be willing to buy a ticket to help our dogs in this huge crisis that is overwhelming us all.

It’s very serious, very tough. We won’t give up fighting, you can be sure of that. But we have sleepless nights and fear sneaks up on all of us. It’s so very hard, all around us shelters are closing – we get cries from help from all directions.

Nowadays when you are in the campo, the countryside, you see whole gangs of wild dogs that haven’t been able to be saved or even trapped and taken to the killing stations because they too are overwhelmed. My phone rings so much it’s like a call centre, so many people wanting us to take their dogs – it knows no limits. Everything is so bad now in Spain and the victims are so often our four legged friends.

Who would help us with the price of a ticket. It would give our poor darling wretches such huge pleasure to fly to a new family and we would be so very, very grateful. They all deserve a life, a happy ending.

Greetings Fabienne

You can leave your donation to:
Account number 4635.18.128
t.n.v. ACE charity, Spain

Or via PayPal, where there are no fees.   For details of the PayPal account please see the main website –

As usual, I’ve done my best with Google translate. I’m sure Fabienne will forgive me for any inaccuracies.