July 31, 2012

The Halt and the Lame ..... a happy ending for our dearest Golfito!

It's so hard, seeing the misery of these sweet dogs when they first come to us. And knowing of the fate of so very many that we cannot possibly save. So every time there's a happy story, a wonderful story, a story of a triumph against all odds, we cry with happiness.

On 21st July I published a post headed - the Halt and the Lame, highlighting some of our precious 'special needs' dogs. The ones that so many people would give up on as being beyond saving. But no. Not here. They all deserve a chance.

And now Fabienne writes in her diary of another, wonderful result. Our beautiful three-legged Golfito, he of the happy smile and great courage, has now his very own family and his very own golden basket. Such great news. Here are some before and after pictures. And in Fabienne's Diary you can see a video of Golfito happily exploring in his new home.

                                                        Such a good, brave dog ...

                                                        ... our smiling Golfito ...

... home at last!

July 29, 2012

Bathtime at El Refugio

It's hot and it's sticky.  Most of our lovely dogs don't look or feel so lovely when they first come to us. Whether they've been dumped in the street, at our gates, in the campo or abandoned at the killing stations they arrive with matted coats that are full of ticks and bugs. The  poor dogs are overheated, smelly and miserable. 

We put that right as soon as we possibly can. After a visit to the vet they get a nice bath and haircut and we soon have them feeling much better. Although they literally lose their stinking coats and ticks and bugs this treatment is also symbolic. It's the first step away from the horrible, rotten lives they have endured so far and towards a bright and happy future. 

It's nice and cool, but I'm still not sure about this

Hmmm ... what exactly are you doing?

A nice, kissy hug - that's better

 You won't hurt me, will you?

 Ear, ear!

 Looking better already

A gentleman likes to keep his ears neat ...

And it's good if he can see too.

 Hold still now!

 Are you nearly done?

 Just one last bit.

Finishing touches. What a handsome lad!

A lesson for us all ...

...  Every day at the same time, she waits for him. And every day he comes. They go for a walk. Every day.  Wouldn't it be great if we all had friends like this. No words are needed - they just intuitively recognise the value of each other in their lives, and act accordingly.

July 25, 2012

One brave little dog!

Bambi and Thumper ...

... Do you remember the story of Bambi and Thumper? Could such a friendship exist in real life? Imagine the joy of the photographer who took these photographs and then just think that there are those who seeing these images would think only of killing them.

July 21, 2012

The Halt and the Lame - every single one is precious.

Every single dog rescued by A.C.E. is a soul worth saving. Each one deserving of a happy future, full of love, with a warm basket and an adoring family.

Lame, blind, deaf, incontinent, traumatised – these and other conditions are never seen as reasons to reject or euthanize. They are seen as a challenge and a reason to strive by every means possible to heal, cure or, where that’s not possible, to find a way round the problem.

And our foster families and our adopting families have hearts as big as the world. They open them to all our dogs, not simply the young and beautiful, but to the old and physically challenged – to the halt and the lame. 

So – here are just a few of the ‘special needs’ dogs currently in our care. All gorgeous darlings waiting for that special family who will wipe away their dreadful memories and show them how wonderful and kind humans can be. And despite their past sufferings, they will show you what the term 'unconditional love' really means.

Our smiling Golfito ...

He's brave and he's strong, loving and gentle, despite the foul and terrible way he was treated by the hunters. What he lacks in a missing paw he more than makes up for with his sweet nature. He loves people, he loves us but he's suffering a different way now because he desperate for a family of his very own. He hungers for love and companionship. Can you help our beautiful Golfito? He'll love you to pieces forever and we'll love you for bringing happiness to this dear, kind dog.

Handsome Nemo is seven years old. He's no longer a puppy - which didn't give his owners the right to throw him out, to leave him on the road where he was hit by a car and left to die. He has old injuries as well a the new ones. He's had a bad time but rather than turn on humans he's kind and sweet with us and with all the other dogs and with the cats as well.

Poor little Cecilio landed in our midst. Quite literally. Suddenly there was a noise and something came flying over the high wall of the Refugio.  It landed with a thud. Not an 'it' - a dog. This wonderful fellow. He lay there in shock. Everyone thought he was dead. But he opened his beautiful sad eyes and we knew there was hope. He's recovering now. He's a sweetie. A darling. All he needs now is the special care of a loving family.

Janette is longing for a new boss. As Fabienne says 'a German Shepherd without a boss is like a vase without flowers.' Skinny, neglected and blind in one eye she was found by a couple who are caring for her until she can find a permanent, loving home. She's a terrific sociable soul, loyal and very sweet. Great with people, good with all the dogs - big and little and even with the cats.

Netje. Another sweet, quiet dog who's led a dreadful life. Skin and bones, she was thrown out of her owner's car at the gates of the Refugio. She was sick, maltreated and underfed, despite being a Bordeaux, a very expensive breed. She's only a puppy still, less than a year old. We're treating her Leishmania, we're doing everything we can and she's responding. Soon she'll need the best medicine of all. A new, caring family.

 What does it feel like to be shut in a box and left in a field in the blistering heat? Little Raton could tell you, if only he could speak.  One thing's for sure, he wanted to survive. He howled and howled until someone heard his cries and didn't pass by.  At first he was so traumatised but day by day he came out of his shell. He loves to stay close to you, adores playing with his ball - he'll fetch it over and over again. Look at that sweet face - wouldn't you like to take him home with you?

At eight years old you are already middle aged, if not indeed old, in dog terms. Imagine the shock and distress to find yourself taken from your home by your boss and literally dumped in the garbage. Who could do that to a faithful companion? Yet that's what happened to poor Yuko. Someone found him in the trash and instead of taking him to a rescue shelter brought him to the killing station. Thank goodness we found him there. He's a lovely character and will repay someone's kindness and love with faithfulness and gratitude.

Another sweet old cocker with a heartbreaking story. Old Dona is ten years old. This time it wasn't an heartless boss who left her. For Dona's boss was a quiet old man, forced by todays appalling economic circumstances, to say goodbye to his faithful and much loved companion. He didn't look back. I have no doubt because he was too upset, too blinded by tears. Dona too sits by the gate and cries with grief and disbelief. But he loved her too much to bring her to a killing station. He knew we'd look after her and we will. We're determined to find her an adoring family who'll help her get over her sadness.

We don't know how she reached us. By what effort of will? Did she know, by some instinct, that she'd be safe with us. However, by the time she'd come close she was too weak to go on. She was found curled up next to the cat's house, a cord tied tightly round her neck, making it difficult to breathe. She's so sick, so worn out. She's had puppies and her eyes are full of sorrow. She'd forgotten how to eat, almost how to survive. But we'll take over now. We call this graceful lady Reina Sofia. She's getting a little bit stronger, she's beginning to wag her tail, even if feebly. She knows we love her. It doesn't take much imagination to see what a beautiful dog she will become once she's put on weight and her soul has had time to recover. With love.

July 16, 2012


This incredible photo marks the end of Matador Torero Alvaro Munera's career.* He collapsed in remorse mid-fight when he realized he was having to prompt this otherwise gentle beast to fight. He went on to become an avid opponent of bullfights. (The look on this bull's face says it all for me. Even grievously wounded by picadors, he did not attack this man.)
Torrero Munera is quoted as saying of this moment: "And suddenly, I looked at the bull. He had this innocence that all animals have in their eyes, and he looked at me with this pleading. It was like a cry for justice, deep down inside of me. I describe it as being like a prayer - because if one confesses, it is hoped, that one is forgiven. I felt like the worst shit on earth." 
"Cows are amongst the gentlest of breathing creatures; none show more passionate tenderness to their young when deprived of them; and, in short, I am not ashamed to profess a deep love for these quiet creatures." so said Thomas de Quincy. 

Alero Munera quotes him and goes on to talk about Chiquilín, another repentant bullfighter, who claims to have seen bulls weeping. He says that he cannot kill even a fly nowadays. "I take my hat off to that man," says Munera. "He’s a real hero who learned his lesson through reason and thinking."

With many thanks to Maries van Den Plas who sent me this photograph and commentary for the English Blog. 

July 15, 2012


Don't throw your chewing gum on the ground. To birds it looks just like a piece of bread and so they will eat it. And then it will clog up their poor little mouths and throats. So they won't be able to eat or drink and will die a slow agonising death. 



July 07, 2012

Poncho's Story

Fabienne tells the sad story of Poncho: -

Beautiful, sad eyes

"Five months ago I got a call from a Spanish lady to tell me that she knew of a Mastin mother who had recently given birth. All the puppies had been sold but two little brothers were left and they had to go 'either way'. So we made ourselves known as a rescue organisation, explaining that while we don't buy dogs we did want to help in finding them a good home. 

The very day the dogs were supposed to come to us we heard that one of the brothers had been given to a Spanish guy, and were assured that he would give the dog a good home. 
I immediately had my doubts because the Mastin breed is not well regarded in this country. Too many times Mastin's are tied to chains where they remain for the rest of their lives and they go through hell. And this despite the fact that this a gorgeous, calm breed of dog.

Balou, the other brother, came to us and soon was being treated as a prince in a loving family and is now the happiest dog in the world. Poor Poncho was a lot less fortunate.  We heard on the grapevine that there was a young Mastin, a 7 month old puppy, lying on a chain, very skinny and very afraid of both men and animals. He was said to have been kicked and beaten and his tail had been cut off. 

After some investigation and research we found out that this was indeed Balou's brother. With a lot of effort we managed to bring him to us, to the Refugio. He is still very afraid, still showing the dreadful effects of his mistreatment, his tail is a cut-off stub. His life so far has been just hell. He's been with us for a few days now. He lies outside the office, close to the patio.  No visitors pass by without greeting him warmly. He looks and looks with his beautiful big Mastin eyes, a look of such purity, there's not a shred of aggression in him.

If you don't look directly at him you can see, out of the corner of your eye, that he's glancing at you. "Oh my," he seems to be thinking "these people here are really friendly ... how strange. But I'll stay watchful." Now when you're eating your sandwich he's already willing to take a bit from your hand and if you produce some cookies ... well, that's very interesting too. In short, this gorgeous big whopper deserves so much better than he's known so far. The poor thing hasn't had any luck yet, he doesn't even know how to play. 

Poncho is only 7 months - his whole life is ahead of him. He has a whole world to discover. Let's hope that he will find a boss who respects him and appreciates him, because that is what our Poncho really needs. We'll do our very best to get that for you, little Poncho.

 A cookie - that seems interesting

A basket of my own, and no rough chain round my neck

Can I trust you?

I'm still a little scared

I may be tall but I'm still a puppy

What a beautiful fellow

From Fabienne - more glimpses of life at El Refugio

PONCHO - they are so nice to me

Hmmm - I like the cuddles

RUDOLFO - so much better now

The young ones ...

YUKO - getting a well deserved grooming

Hold still now!

So good. As good as gold.

Leslie giving out the cookies ...

DANKO is going to be castrated ...

If only all owners were as responsible

In the recovery room