On my first trip to Spain in July 2007 with the French rescue association L'Europe des Levriers, we brought back to France 2 tripods, one a galgo and the other a podenca. It was the first time I had met tripod canines and I was very impressed how having 3 legs instead of 4 didn't hinder them from haring around and playing with the other hounds.
One of my readers, Diane, adopted a tripod from the hellhole that was Mairena perrera, a privately owned killing station where the dogs hardly received the basics of life. Here Diane writes about Podenca Selina.
'16th January 2014– I was looking at my Facebook notifications from ‘For the Love of Dogs and Cats’ (FLODAC) rescue group in Spain, and saw a horrific news video of a notorious perrera‘Mairena’ near Seville, taken on Christmas Day 2013, which had been discovered to have been in an appalling state – dogs with no food or water; no staff or vet attendance over the 2 week holiday; pens flooded with water, dogs paddling in their own excrement; tiny mothers trying to protect new born puppies; dead dogs. This same perrera had been described by Beryl Brennan in 2011 as ‘cold, wet and dirty, the dogs are starving’. It seemed nothing had changed. The film created a furore when it was shown on Spanish television.
My 17 year old dog Charlie had died suddenly just after Christmas, leaving my other dog Andy on his own. He was a young disabled Teckel who came from Spain via ‘FLODAC’ rescue group 6 months earlier. I decided if I could help one dog out of that hellhole, I would do it, and provide a companion for Andy.
There was an extraordinary effort going on in FLODAC to help local rescuers to save as many as possible. Photos of the dogs in the perrera came up, dozens of them needing homes. I saw a little Podenco Andaluz staring out between the bars. I contacted Irene van den Bossche who was helping to track down the dogs and organise new homes, and said I was interested in adopting her. At the time I knew nothing about Podencos.
Then there was a catastrophe. A video came up on Facebook of locals releasing all the dogs from the perrera. I saw Selina in her cell, running round with other dogs. Later I saw a photograph of her being carried out in a woman’s arms. No one really knew what was happening.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3oRFjBBthU (Selina appears about 30 secs into the film
We were lucky - Selina was sheltered for a couple of days then handed back to rescuers. Others weren’t so fortunate: travellers and hunters took some; others were just never seen again, even though they were reserved for adoption. Some were found weeks later, in very poor condition, having been abandoned again. She was taken to the Animal Hospital for a couple of weeks where she was vet checked, spayed, and had her vaccinations. She was free of any diseases, thank heavens.
Selina arrived in Scotland on March 16th on the FLODAC transport, two months after I first saw her photo. She was very skinny, with an enormous appetite. She had a huge amount of nervous energy, and wasn’t fearful of humans at all. The only thing which alarmed her was the sea. We lived two minutes from a lovely beach, but Selina crept around the base of the concrete promenade, hoping the sea wouldn’t come any closer.
While waiting for her to arrive, I read up on Podencos, and, to be honest, I began to doubt my ability to train her. At first walking her was a nightmare, she wanted to explore everything, from one side to another, then trying to race ahead, or backwards. If she saw a cat she had to try and catch it.
I started recall training on the beach, with a long 30m training lead, and copious treats. She was good on the lead, running around and coming back. The fun began when I let her off the training lead. She had a taste of freedom after being confined and raced half a mile along the beach before coming back at top speed. Her joy was a delight to see. I took her and Andy down to the beach very early and very late, so she could have her exercise without distractions.
Despite my precautions, I had many anxious moments with her. Local cats used to enjoy hunting and relaxing in the sand dunes. Selina found one and they both took off a full speed towards the cat’s home. The cat jumped the garden wall, Selina ran head first into the closed iron gate. It stopped her for a millisecond then she was jumping up at the wall. I couldn’t believe she was uninjured, with just a tiny cut near her eye.
Another time she was hunting in the dunes at dusk, and refused to come to the whistle. I walked up and down the beach whistling for her. Eventually I went home and got the car. By this time it was pitch dark. I parked near the dunes and shouted. There was a faint bark in reply. I set off with torch in hand and found her standing waiting for me, quite happy to come home. I took her back to the unlocked car, then discovered I had lost the car keys on the beach. It didn’t take long to find them, returned to the car to find Selina had eaten the whole bag of treats I’d left on the seat.
In desperation I took an online training course called ‘Canine Confidence’ run by Janet Findlay, specifically to address the problems of reactive dogs. It was a godsend, and helped me with my own confidence in dealing with problem behaviour, nothing serious, just over exuberance, but which could have serious consequences. It took me two years to feel more confident with her in a relatively safe environment – I knew she would come back, she would keep her eyes on me.She surprised me one day by hearing a puppy crying in the marram grass below the promenade. Above her a man was calling to the puppy from the prom. Selina ran into the grass, found the puppy and helped it back up the steps to its owner and came back down to me.
Since Selina arrived, we have adopted three more rescue dogs: Milo, a JR-looking mix from Spain; Jack, a fuzzy Pondengo X from Portugal; and Paddy, a chihuahua X from Romania. Selina is definitely the top dog; she initiates play with the others, is territorial over her own space and food bowl but is not nasty (one look and the others turn away), she will break up a dispute between the others by standing between them. She roos, zooms around the rooms like a maniac.
At the end of November 2016, Selina’s life changed drastically. The postman left the garden gate open, and before I could shut it, Selina and Jack escaped and raced up the pavement to the place we always crossed the main road to get to the woods. They raced into the path of oncoming traffic. Selina was hit by a heavy lorry. Jack raced back to us in terror. I saw Selina drag herself from under the lorry and limp off into the woods, her back leg hanging. I thought she was going to hide in the woods and die. I ran up the path calling for her. Suddenly she limped out of the undergrowth towards me. I could see her leg was beyond saving, but she wasn’t bleeding profusely. I picked her up and we drove straight the nearest vet, who saw her immediately and gave her pain relief and stabilised the leg. We then went straight on to her vet, who decided to amputate her leg there and then. She was back home within three hours, with no dressing on the leg, but a cone round her neck.
Although life-changing for Selina, this accident couldn’t have happened at a worse time for us either. We were due to move house in six weeks to over three hundred miles away, and were staying temporarily in a rented flat up three flights of stairs. We had to carry her up and down several times a day, but in less than a week she was coping on her own. I cleaned her scar (8 inches long) and stitches twice a day with a saline mix and then applied a mixture of Aloe Vera and Manuka honey. Her stomach and abdomen were black with pooled blood where she’d been dragged along the tarmac, but no major organs were affected. She healed perfectly with no infection. She was a very lucky girl.
She coped with it all without complaint, a perfect patient, although by the end of the 5th week she was fed up and I had to chase her to do the dressing. By that time the wound was 95 percent healed and the stitches were out.When we left in early January, she was ready to travel.
I’ve noticed her disposition has changedsince the accident. She won’t walk along pavements along busy roads, particularly with heavy traffic.She is more inclined to come on my knee and snuggle into me than she did before. She insistently uses her paw to pat me to indicate she needs some petting. She enjoys a lie-in in the mornings, and doesn’t get up till breakfast is served. But she still keeps the others in line, she’ll still displace a dog if she wants to sit where they are sitting. Still roos and zooms.
Although all our dogs are special, Selina is extra-special. She is a true survivor, like so many of the breed, and a great example of the wonderful things about Pods. May she continue to live a long and happy life.'
We too all wish her a long and happy life with you.