October 29, 2013

Love + Patience = Transformation = A Happy Dog

When I first discovered A.C.E. I was overwhelmed by the love and passion expressed in Fabienne's Diary and the amazing work being done. I was drawn to Fabienne and El Refugio as to a magnet. It was a year or more before I was able to go over and join in as a volunteer. In the meantime I decided to sponsor a dog.

I pored over the 'Dogs for Adoption' trying to choose just one from so many darlings. After some long time I had a shortlist of about 50!  I looked again and again. But one dog had stood out for me because he looked so scared, so terrified. As though he was saying 'Please, please don't hit me.' I don't know his history, no one does, but judging by the poor fellow's expression it must have been horrible.

When I finally got out to La Cala a year or maybe eighteen months later I was dying to see 'my' Enzio. However, the very first day I set foot in the Refugio was the day after the night of the terrible storm. The place was in chaos, knee deep in mud in places and in full blown crisis. The dogs were traumatised, all the bedding, the towels, the medicine, the food had been ruined. People rallied round. Staff, volunteers, friends, well wishers, the local radio station, Team Holland and Team Belgium. Everyone did their bit.

It was a couple of days before things calmed down a little and I felt able to ask someone to point out 'my' dog. It was indeed Fabienne who introduced us. My first impression was that he was so small. I had expected quite a big dog and he was small and so delicate. And still so very, very frightened. He wouldn't come near me.  At the end of ten days, by dint of sitting somewhere a metre or so away, keeping very still and talking to him he gradually began to tolerate my presence, but touching wasn't an option.

On my second visit he was still there but this time, instead of running free in the area around the washhouse he was in a section, in one of the cages.  One day when we were walking the dogs I chose to take Enzio out with us. I wanted him to have this treat. I was totally unprepared for what happened. I managed to put on a collar and lead but the poor dog was absolutely petrified. He bucked and fought - I couldn't get the lead off quickly enough. It was distressing.

When a few month's later I heard he had been adopted I was overjoyed. He had been such a scared boy I had wondered it it would ever be possible. Well, it was possible. He is Vasco now and has been home for two whole years. I was going to say he's a different dog and in one sense he is - calm, happy, content. No longer terrified of his own shadow. And in another way he hasn't changed at all because the love and patience has helped bring out his true character. Dignified, funny, lively, lovely and sociable. Heartfelt thanks to Jola who adopted him and whose love, patience and care have effected this wonderful transformation.

        The 'woebegone' picture is no longer on the database, 
          but this is Enzio/Vasco as he was, at the Refugio, May 2011

Sharing my golden basket with my friend.

I like playing in the garden.

Portrait of a happy dog.

With another of my friends.

Me and the pack, chilling out.

October 21, 2013

Rosie and Bob: unconditional love

One of our lovely adopters, Yvonne, sent us these charming pictures of Rosie and Bob. They adopted Rosie from ACE in La Cala in 2009. Since then she has become the constant companion of their Bob. He's now 13. Did he mind a new sister. No. He loves her unconditionally and she loves him back. Among so much sadness that we see, it 's wonderful to share the success stories.

Sharing - after a fashion

You looking at us?

Don't you just love that dangling paw

Bird's eye view!

October 20, 2013

Rescued from the Campo

Back in early September we found a mother and her puppies abandoned in the campo. The pups had been born in a dry sewer. They were weak and sick; mum was scared and defensive. We managed to take the little ones but at first were unable to persuade the mum to come with us. However, just a day later we managed it. Some of the puppies didn't survive, the odds were too great. But the others are doing fine and Lomena is a brilliant mum, she's doing well. Fabienne reports that she has a great golden heart to match her beautiful golden ears.

So small and defenceless ...

... this was their birthplace

Lomena, scared for her puppies


Look at her now

A golden girl

A brilliant mum ...

... with her healthy puppies

Special people and a lucky little dog

Fabienne writes to tell of a very special adoption. One she wants to share with everyone as it's something that rarely happens in Spain. It's so good to tell this story, in contrast to the distressing earlier post about poor little Yimi, and others like him.

Everyone at A.C.E. in Spain sees a daily procession of abandoned dogs - huge numbers of them, all types and sizes, pure bred and mongrels, young and old. We love them all and want only happiness for them for the rest of their life, even if that is short .

Any excuse, no matter if the dog has been in the family for many years. He barks, or he is sick, or he won't listen, or someone in the family has developed an allergy - new dog or old friend, when small problems develop or they may need to spend money, then the 'friend' has to go. It has to be healthy and 'good' - otherwise out!

Nevertheless, even if this is the norm there are exceptions. Wonderful exceptions. This week a Spanish family adopted little Nika, who is already 10 years old.This is truly exceptional. Moreover, the parents believe that their children will benefit from growing up with an older dog. They want the children to learn and enjoy the experience, which is rare here in Spain !

You hear a lot of horrible stories here and you see incredible and distressing situations, every day.  But there are also very good people here, people who, like us, lose their hearts to all these poor creatures.  In most parts of the country, the mentality with respect to animals is worrying, but you can also see that there are positive experiences .

Nika is a lucky little girl, says Fabienne, and hopefully we'll  find a lot of Spanish families like yours ...


Look - I have my own family

Shall we play?

 Portrait of a happy little dog

All this space to play in - I'm such a lucky girl

October 19, 2013

Yimi: a little dog who died of a broken heart.

I'm struggling to keep back the tears. This is so cruel, so unnecessary, so heartless. It's one thing for a family to be in financial trouble or have health problems and be forced to say goodbye to a beloved pet, with bitter tears and regret.  It's quite another when the reason for abandoning the pet is seemingly random, incomprehensible.

When little Yimi trotted up to the Refugio with his bosses he was a happy little dog. Bright eyed, tail wagging, looking up at his boss with love and devotion. He was a little reluctant to stay with us but he didn't make a fuss. His bosses would come and collect him very soon. They would come back.

Fast forward a couple of hours. Yimi is in our quarantine section. Where were his bosses? That was when it hit him - they weren't coming back. All that trust, destroyed. Poor Yimi was distraught but he didn't howl or bark. He just - stopped. He wouldn't lie down, he wouldn't eat, he wouldn't drink.

Fabienne sat and talked to him, stroked him, cuddled him. One by one everyone tried to comfort him. Nothing worked. Tempting pieces of chicken and treats. No. Water. No. It got so bad he had to have a drip in his paw. And all the time he stood resolutely, staring out through the bars refusing to move.

He went to stay with Ellen, a loving foster mother who took the greatest care of him; the following morning he eat two biscuits and drank a little. There was hope. A few days later Fabienne said in her diary that if Yimi could only know how many people were thinking of him he would immediately start to eat.

He had a few wonderful weeks with good care and lots of love from his foster mama, Ellen, and everyone concerned. We can be thankful for that, that he knew that love. But sadly, despite the superhuman efforts of all these devoted people, little Yimi died. Barely three weeks after his boss abandoned him, he gave up. It was too much for him, his heart had been broken. So desperately sad. So cruel and unnecessary.

Those of us who love and respect animals are in no doubt as to the degree to which they feel emotion. In her diary, Fabienne wrote of her 14 years experience with over 15,000 dogs passing through the Refugio and of other dogs she'd known, like Yimi, who simply didn't want to go on and died of grief. She spoke of her beloved Max and Dirk's Tineke who wait anxiously for their return, Max not eating until she's back, little Tineke waiting motionless at the door.

And now there is scientific proof to back up what we all know. Gregory Burns, a professor of neuroeconomics in Georgia has shown that dogs use the same part of the brain to 'feel' as humans do. To achieve these results a group of clever dogs were trained to stay perfectly still while they underwent an MRI scan. The tests point to the probability that dogs have a level of sentience similar to that of a human child.

There is currently a television series running in the UK called 'Dogs: Their Secret Lives', which also demonstrates graphically how deep and real their emotions are.

A happy dog, full of trust

Why have they gone away and left me?

Yimi on the right. Sadly his heart was too badly broken.

R.I.P Sweet Yimi.

October 15, 2013

More happy dogs, more happy humans ...

These darlings flew off to their new families and foster homes in September. This time there's a lucky kitten too. Among them are poor Bernardo who's boss callously left him behind at the bus stop and Navidad who was our first rescue of 2013. So many sad stories and now so many happy endings. Yay!

October 13, 2013

Running free ....

We used to have to go out onto the busy road to reach the meadow. In May the stairs up to the field were installed as a surprise for Fabienne. We no longer had to go out onto the road.

However, the steps were still outside our entrance gates. So the dogs still had to stay on leads until they got into the field. Which meant we could only bring a few at a time.

What was needed was another fence, a second barrier beyond the stairs so the dogs could just run out of the refuge and up the steps and onto the meadow. It's done. It's glorious. On 9th October, for the very first time, a whole section were able to run together. Free to run, to play, to romp. A beautiful sight. It brings tears to your eyes. You can see a larger version on You Tube.

Beloved Jerzy - miracles happen

Darling little Jerzy was one of the first dogs I got to know over two years ago on my first visit to El Refugio. That was in May 2011. I went again in October that year and Jerzy was again in the laundry area, running about happily. I had discovered that he was incontinent, which meant he could not be adopted. In May this year I sought him out. We had lots of cuddles and tummy rubs. He was as sweet and affectionate as ever. But still incontinent. Still in the refuge because of it.

It didn't seem as if he could ever have a golden basket and I was so sad to leave him. A few weeks after I got home I thought I heard that he had been adopted, but how? Had his problem been solved? How? Where was he? My lovely friend Maries saw my piece about him on the blog a few months ago and wrote to give me the news. Lovely Jerzy has indeed been adopted. He has his very own loving home with a brilliant lady called Inge and now lives in Belgium with her. He is very happy and has a new name - Vieni.

Inge is an angel. She's his guardian angel. She has strategies to deal with his incontinence - special nappies and an incontinence band at night (so he only has to wear them some of the time). She has looked after his gummy ears and his teeth and, because he drags his little back legs and wears out his nails, she has fitted special little boots for when they go out walking.

Inge tells about how sensitive and affectionate he is - and I can confirm that. Such a sweet nature. At night he sleeps by her side. She loves him so much and has no regrets at all, even though his problem means more work. Such a happy ending for such a special little fellow. With love and grateful thanks from all of us to Inge and of course to all our loving, hard working and generous adopters and foster families.

Day One - not sure about this yellow thing.

All cleaned up, with my special pee pad.

I wear my nappy twice a day. It's cool.

 Walking with my special boots to protect my feets.

I love my new family. I'm such a lucky boy.

Sweet dreams - home at last.

A sight we thought we'd never see. So happy.

October 05, 2013

So sweet, so tender .... but destined for the killing station.

Puppies are cute. Puppies are cuddly. Puppies grow up and become dogs - of all sizes and colours and types. Big, small, black, brown, white, multicoloured. They grow up and a few have loving families. Others are mistreated, abandoned or taken to the killing station. Even puppies go to the killing station.

Every day people come to us with puppies - please take them, it's the last chance. If you don't they are going to the killing station. Every week, day after day, we find puppies dumped at our gates, in the garbage, or born on the street.

We can't help all these puppies, all these pregnant mothers. We help as many as we can. We'd love to save them all. But all the will in the world is not enough.

There is a very simple solution. It's not expensive. All it needs is a change of heart and mindset.

Sterilise your bitches and your dogs. It doesn't hurt them. The only reason you won't do it is from pride, custom.  Is that worth all the misery when the solution is there, staring you in the face? We'll help. Just do it.

With thanks to Ineke for the pictures from the Dutch Blog.

Wishing ...

We're sweet and happy characters. We get lots of love here but we long for a home of our very own.

Wishing and dreaming ...

... me too.

We're being really patient, but .... are you the one?

What have we here? A hole!

Could I escape?

Maybe there's a golden basket at the end of the tunnel!

I'm so sweet with my pirate patch and speckled ear. Will you take me home?

I'm a Bodeguero. I'm funny, smart, loving and great with kids. I need a family.

Yes. I know I'm sitting on the lunch table. Your point is?

A handsome fellow, taking a nap.