March 29, 2013

Little clowns that make you laugh and make us cry ...

I am re-posting a piece I wrote at roughly this time a year ago because, while all the dogs touch my heart, every single one of them, there are are several breeds that are so overlooked, that are so often left behind and ignored. One of these is the Bodeguero. These little clowns will make you laugh but it make you cry too to see them languishing behind bars for so long simply because the breed's unknown, and sometimes misunderstood. 

It breaks your heart to see so many Bodegueros and Podencos left behind in the shelters while so many other dogs are adopted. One of the reasons may be that these breeds are little known – not just in Holland but in the UK, the rest of mainland Europe and indeed throughout most of the world. In this post I’ll concentrate on the Bodegueros and will write about Podencos another time.

There may be other reasons for the lack of adopters for Bodegueros. The main ones are almost certainly ignorance of the breed and its characteristics and the confusion with the Jack Russell terrier, which it seems has a bad reputation in Belgium though not I think generally in England. However, the Bodeguero is a completely different and original breed – strong, healthy, sweet, very intelligent and loyal. 

This sturdy little dog has a nice and compact muscular body, fairly long, elegant legs, and a nice smooth coat. They have beautiful little faces! Real teddy bear faces – and yes, they do smile! The breed is known by various names.  The Rat Nero (rattevanger), the Perillo Ratero (rat dog) and the Bodeguero Andaluz.  They got the name Bodeguero from the wineries and wine cellars (bodegas) where they are used to keep wine barrels free from rats and other vermin.

The Bodeguero first became known towards the end of the 18th century with the arrival of the English wine merchants in the province of Cadiz, Spain. The British brought with them a breed of particularly smooth-haired fox terriers. These were crossed with the already existing local dogs that were used as rat catchers in the bodegas.

These hybrids quickly became popular and made excellent ratters. At that time they were bred to be white in colour, so that they could be seen in the dark vaults of the then unlit wineries. In 1993, the Club Nacional del Perro Andaluz Ratonero Bodeguero, was formed and in 2000 the breed was recognised as a native Spanish breed by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture. It is not yet recognised internationally by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale.

Bodegueros adapt well to full-time indoor or apartment living but have lots of energy so they both enjoy and need a great deal of daily exercise. They love to spend time outdoors, playing games such as fetch and tug-of-war, and having plenty of room to roam, run, and play.

They thrive on strong dependable relationships with humans. This in particular makes them easy dogs to train and thus they make excellent pets being bright, clever, obedient, loyal, loving and affectionate with adults and children alike. Like all shelter dogs they may take a little time to adapt to a new home. But once they have settled in (and being so intelligent and eager to please this may not take too long) you’ll have a delicious, crazy, sweet, funny and loving friend for life.


I met so many of these sweethearts at El Refugio, among them our beloved Bombardonneke, Mikvel the clown, and so many others. They are funny, sweet, loving and clever and all deserve golden baskets.  Since I wrote the original post Bomardonneke has a wonderful, loving new home. Curra, Zozima, Madina and Figaro are no longer on the 'Dogs for Adoption' list, nor the reserved list, so I hope and pray that means they have found their golden baskets (I think it does.) Fino, Pablo, Leon and Kwien are all reserved or pre reserved - either to go into foster care - the first step to a family - or have indeed been reserved by a family. 

However, while our hearts are full of happiness for them they all waited patiently, and for far too long. There are many many others still at the Refugio, pushing their little noses through the bars of the cages, dancing around with their smiley faces saying - "please, me too. Me too. Can it be my turn next?" Dogs like Cervantes who featured on my last post, and on the Belgian and Dutch blogs recently - will someone hear his 'cry for help?' Or wonderful Albert, 4 years old and already waiting for over 2 years. Or sweet patient Camus. He's 7 years old and, like Albert, he's been waiting since 2011. Gorgeous dogs, pining for a home of their own. For a family of their own. For you?

Leon - after a years wait, he's on the reservation list for Belguim.

Kwien - now waiting to go to Holland


Zozima - thrown over our gate but now she has a happy ending

Madina - my turn next? Yes her turn did come. Wonderful. 

Figaro - he was waiting for nearly a year but now the wait is over.

Beloved Bombardonneke - great news, our darling girl is adored and spoilt by her new loving family.

Cervantes - who will hear his cry for help?

Sweet Albert - longing to follow in Bombadonneke's footsteps

Camus - seven years old and waiting since 2011

My original note: - I want to acknowledge and thank Ineke for posting the original article by Judith, in Spain on the Dutch Blog on March 3rd 2012 and also Karin van den Akker who drew her attention to Judith’s article.  I would also like to acknowledge and thank Judith. I did try to translate her article using Google Translate but in the end it was easier to write my own version, drawing facts from Judith’s article and from various other sources including Wikipedia and All About the Breed

March 24, 2013

A Cry for Help ...

This is taken from Ineke's blog, the Dutch Blog, and is a heartfelt cry from Viviane Hannes, who looks after the Belgian members and volunteers for ACE-Shin and who is a regular visitor to El Refugio.   

Viviane writes that year after year she comes to the Refugio and year after year she sees the same sweet dogs who for some unknown reason have been overlooked by adopting families. These gentle creatures push their noses through the bars, put their paws on your arm as if to say 'please, take me home. Take me home this time.' 

A cry for help.

Viviane has been back from Spain for a few weeks now and can't get them out of her mind. She will be coming out to help again next year - but next time she begs everyone, please please when I come next year let them not be behind bars in the refuge but in a warm basket, in the middle of a loving family.

A cry for help...

For Cervantes, a lovely dog, loving with people, social with the other dogs. Absolutely nothing wrong with him - and yet, and yet - no one seems to see this beautiful boy. This delightful little Cervantes. With this cry for help she calls on everyone not to allow this wonderful dog to stay sitting behind those bars. Cervantes is a young boy still, only six, but he's already been waiting two years for a new owner. Is there anyone out there who'll give him a chance. Find out more about Cervantes here.

Cervantes, with his ball.

Cervantes - who could resist that smiling face?

A cry for help...

For Sid and Suki, two handsome dogs, one a little bigger than the other. Sweet, social ... and everybody walks past them. Year after year, I see their noses and paws pushing  the bars, says Viviane. You take them on a day out to the beach where they can run and run. For once there are new things to see, new smells to sniff. But a few hours later they are sitting back in their kennels where they have been lingering for years. So for them too ...

A cry for help ....

For Sid, four years old. Another undervalued Podenco, he's been waiting for two years already. Waiting for a boss who will help him forget the bad start he had in life. Who will fall for him and show him how good life can be. Here's more about Sid.

Hello! I'm Sid ...

... have you come to take me home?

For Suki. He's also four years old, a sweet Podenco/Bodeguero cross who was saved from the killing station and who had lost his confidence in man. Now he knows that not all humans are horrible and he's waiting for that very special boss who will entirely restore his trust. Who will that boss be? Find out more about Suki's story.

Suki is wondering - is it time yet?

 Are  you my new boss?

A cry for help ...

For Taylor. God knows why he hasn't yet been noticed, because he's so great. Not only is he very beautiful but he has such a gentle character. Friendly with everyone and everything, he'd clearly make  wonderful pet and yet - is it because he's jet black? He's a big boy, a Labrador cross, only three years old. Over a year ago one of our student's rescued him from the killing station, but he's still waiting.
Who want's to give this gentle giant a good home, he deserves more than a long wait in the Refugio.
Read more about lovely Taylor. And then please, will you come and fetch him and take him away to a new life. 

Taylor, enjoying the freedom of the field for a few hours ...

... will you take him home and go for walkies every day? He'll reward you with eternal love.

I'm grateful to Viviane for her cry for help. For drawing our attention to these lovely, overlooked dogs. I apologise is I have mis-translated your words, Viviane. I've had to rely on Google Translate, which is not very good. Thanks you too to Ineke for posting this appeal on the Dutch site. For Dutch and Belgian versions of this Cry for Help, please go to the relevant blogs on the website. You'll also see some delightful videos of all these lovely dogs on the Belgian blog.

March 22, 2013

Best friends

Myrek, Dia de Analucia and Pepino, waiting for the rain to stop

Three little dogs, cuddled up together, waiting for the rain to stop. They are all safe with us now after a pitiful start to their lives. Myrek had the misfortune to be born a Podenco in a land where this beautiful, intelligent breed is abused and unappreciated. Poor fellow had been been trailed around the district from shelter to shelter but no one would take him in - and the next stop was the killing station. Luckily he came to us at the eleventh hour.

A late flight. Dogs safely aboard the plane then the mobile rings. Emergency. Our sweet Isabelleke,  our devoted and untiring foster mother, was by the motorway where she'd found a wounded Podenco. Another unfortunate Podenco. When we arrived she was holding on to the dog for all she was worth,  she would have given her life for it. We know that. On examination the dog was found be in terrible pain. We rushed her to the emergency clinic. The vet needed a name for the dog for his records. Without inspiration, it was late and he was tired he called her after the day it was - Dia de Andalusie. She's recovering now and has found some friends for she's quiet and sweet and her tail never stops wagging.

Pepino is a dear little white dog with interesting markings, quite unique. When they rang up to ask us to take him they said they had a 'little dog'. Well he's not enormous, but nor is he a little dog. When he came to us he was still very frightened, very insecure - and who can blame him. He's growing more confident though and he loves it when we can spare the time to give him one to one attention. And he loves the other dogs. As you can see.

These three darlings, like all our dogs, have suffered at the hands of humans. But they are so loving, so forgiving, so accepting of each other and many are even happy with the cats. Our greatest hope is that one day, very soon, they will each have their own loving family.

March 17, 2013

Greetings from some lovely dogs ...

... photo's taken this week by Fabienne. With many thanks.

Don't go ...

 .... aren't you going to take me for walkies?


 Washing drying in the sun ...

... happy dogs enjoying the warm weather

Endless washing, endless drying.

Mmm! Shall I take a dip?

Testing the water.

Yummy kibble.

High spirits.


 Don't stop!

 My turn now!

We want some more. Please.

 Running, jumping, exploring!

March 10, 2013

Every day is Mother's Day

Today, Sunday 10th March, is Mother's Day in England. A day when children buy flowers and treats for their mums and often make breakfast or cook the lunch. But, in truth, every day is Mother's Day,* because it's mothers who are always there to listen, to kiss it better, to help and to hug.

It's the same in the animal kingdom. Mothers, and father's too, look after their little ones.  Recently, at El Refugio, there have been some heartbreaking, uplifting and touching stories of mothers caring for their puppies - and even some who aren't even theirs. So here are some sweet, touching stories.


This is Mama Mia with her puppies, being hugged by our lovely students. But look carefully. All the puppies are pale, like their mum. Except the little black one on the end - little Black Pepper. He does not belong in this litter, clearly he didn't belong. But when we found Mama Mia in the killing station she was caring for him as one of her own. The brothers and sisters looked on him as another brother. She is just as protective of him as she is of her natural puppies. Beautiful to see - a mother's love.

This is Maiky. Hers is a heartbreaking story, for the poor darling is indeed heartbroken. When we found her at the killing station the milk was running from her, but her puppies were nowhere to be seen. They must have been very tiny, very small, certainly not old enough to leave their mum, but they were gone. We were too late for the puppies, though not too late for Maiky. She's a gentle, loving dog despite her sorrow. Though she is grieving, she looks everywhere for her puppies, for she's a mum. We try to distract her and hope that this beautiful, faithful Setter will soon find happiness and a new home.

This sweet dog was found at the side of the road with her seven puppies. Whether she was dumped there with the puppies we will never know. But given how tiny the puppies are it's quite possible she actually gave birth at the roadside. Poor mum, so obviously neglected but still caring for her little ones and protecting them. They are very fragile; we are giving them and their mama all the care we can and we hope they will make it. And when she can leave them for a moment, we'll give her a nice bath and clean her up.

* Of course there are loving fathers as well, who love and care for their kids. It's just that today is Mother's Day. Dad's get their turn in June!

These stories are all from the wonderful Fabienne's Diary on the website.

March 08, 2013

A mother's overwhelming love and amazing courage

During an early morning response to a house fire in Santa Rose de Temuco, Chile , firefighters witnessed the unbelievable. A mother dog risked her life to save her puppies from the fire surrounding the burning house, which started because of a car bomb.

The mother dog, Amanda, raced back and forth between the house, putting her 10 day old puppies in the safest place she could find - a firetruck!

She didn't stop racing back into the fire until all of her puppies were safely away from the fire.. The firemen on scene could not believe their eyes. Most people have never seen a dog this smart or this brave!

After rescuing all of her pups from the blaze, Amanda sat down next to them, protecting them with her body. Onlookers called an emergency veterinary service and she and her pups were rushed to the hospital. Aside from one puppy being treated for serious burns, the entire family are alive and well - thanks to the bravery of Amanda! What a heroic mother! :)

With many thanks to Maries van den Plas for sending this wonderful story.

February's golden dogs, golden baskets and happy families

Here are the fifty five lucky darlings who've been adopted or fostered into Holland, this February. Of course there are more going to Belgium and some other countries. With many thanks again to Ineke, for her wonderful collage and all her hard work.

March 03, 2013

Bringing a dog or cat into the UK - it's easier than you may think

In November 2011, in one of my very first posts on the English blog I gave the good news that at long last the UK was coming into line with the rest of Europe. From 1st January 2012, our draconian and outdated quarantine laws changed.  Dogs, cats and ferrets can now enter the UK without quarantine as long as they meet the rules.

To bring a dog, a cat (or indeed a ferret) into the UK from another EU country, such as Spain or Holland, or a listed non-EU company, these are the current requirements:-               

1. The first thing you must to is have the animal microchipped.

2.  Following that the pet needs to be vaccinated against rabies. This must be done even if your pet has a current rabies vaccination. Rabies boosters must be kept up to date.

3.  The vaccination must be done 21 days before the date of entry to the UK. If it is in two parts, the 21-day wait will run from the date of the second vaccination.

4.  Now you will need the correct travel documentation, the Pet Passport.   

5.   Dogs, but not cats or ferrets, must be treated for tapeworm. The treatment must be administered by a vet no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (1-5 days) before its scheduled arrival time in the UK.

6.  There is no mandatory requirement for tick treatment.

7. The animal must travel with an approved transport company on an authorised route.

I know of a couple of transport companies in the UK that are actually run by vets. I don’t have any direct knowledge of them, but they may be worth checking out. Several airlines also transport directly. British Airways has a specialist arm, IAG Cargo, which ships animals on their behalf. I don’t know how the costs compare with the costs of the airlines flying our dogs from Malaga to Holland and Belgium. However, there are various rescue organisations both in the UK and in Spain that either transport or arrange transport, some by road.

Companies such as Dogwatch, help dogs from overseas find safe homes in the UK. This includes dogs from Spain – Dogwatch liaises with Ibizan Hound Rescue and Paws Patas in Almeria. They take a few dogs every six months from the former and foster them until they can find them forever homes. By doing this they free up space at the refuge, allowing IHR to save more dogs from the hunters. The ‘Spain to UKAnimal Adoption Community’ has created a Facebook page to enable discussion on all aspects of rehoming Spanish animals to the UK. They are hoping to create a network of individuals and rescue groups in Spain and the UK who would be willing to help in the coordination, transportation and adoption of these animals into caring homes in the UK.

Spanish Stray Dogs UK is another organisation that re homes Spanish dogs. A registered UK charity, set up in 2012, it seeks out caring and patient families who will offer homes to Spanish stray dogs, rescued from the streets. They also raise funds to go towards the costs of transport and to cover such things as veterinary bills. They also collect such items as medicines – flea and tick treatment – treats, toys, blankets etc. to send to Spain. Their sister organisation Spanish Stray Dogs NPO is based in Spain. The two organisations work closely together and remain in close contact with the dogs they bring into the UK.
I don’t have any direct knowledge of any of these organisations, though I have no reason to believe they are not reputable. It may be that they are already known to ACE, perhaps the organisations are already collaborating. If not, and should they be suitable, they may be able to offer help and advice about bringing our beloved rescues to the UK. It would take some time to set up a branch of ACE in the UK, it would need a lot of work and organisation, so maybe collaboration might be the way to re-home just a few. It might be a start – every little helps. 

P.S. I have just been having a quick read of the Facebook page set up by Spain to UK Animal Adoption Community (link above) and it does look very useful. Apart from other information they have regular reviews of pet transport companies, by people who have recently used them. I'm adding this postscript partly because the site is well worth a visit but also because one transport company, based in Spain, called Pet Taxi Transport has had the most appalling reviews and I wanted to draw this to your attention, so that you can be warned. Read the reviews though, don't just take my word for it.