Meet Cleo, a small Podenca Andaluz, who has also suffered at the hands of the Spanish hunters. Luckily, she has now found her forever place of safety, in France with Djimba. Betty tells her story.
'As of so many of her kind, the history of Cleo is unknown but also not hard to imagine. Born In the wild, taking care of herself, not kindly treated by humans.
At the beginning of 2012 I received an email from a friend in Barcelona - did I know a solution for a little podenca with an extreme fear of humans? Djimba is a home for old, ill or handicapped dogs and Cleo was none of these. However in the last 13 years we have had a lot of experience with traumatized dogs and her little face touched us.
So in April I flew to Barcelona. Cleo was with my friend but could not be touched, although she did come into the house, following the other dogs. She apparently was found with a broken leg and taken to the clinic of a shelter, where she was operated on. She had 4 screws and a metal plate in her right front leg, you could see this was not done very well as her leg was crooked (but we do not blame the vets because we know the workload and conditions there).
We think her fear may have started there, being locked up in a little cage at the clinic for a couple of weeks, giving her medications, injections, cleaning the wound and bandaging must have been terrifying for her. Because of her fear they did not want to put her in the refuge, so our friend took her home, hoping to find her a good place.
Getting Cleo (as we planned to call her) in the flight carrier was quite an ordeal, she did not respond to the two (!) calmivet tablets and, after a struggle where she peed all over me and bit me fiercely, we got her in and managed to get her into a harness.
At the airport, another ordeal, because she had to come out so the carrier could go through the x-ray machine. Because I do not speak Spanish, my friend’s boyfriend went with her and made sure that the room was locked. After 20 horrible long minutes during which I recalled all the stories of escaped dogs in the airport going through my head, he came back. She was safe back in the carrier.
Now started the waiting to board. I could see the carrier with her in it, poor little girl, all those noises, smells, she must have been so scared. Again my fears for her escaping the carrier, biting through the plastic, went through my mind I heaved a big sigh when I saw them put her in the belly of the plane, 'another couple of hours, girl, then you will be home'.
Anyone who flies with animals knows the feeling of relief when you see the carrier come out of the luggage department (in Paris it is just put like the suitcases on the rolling bands/carrousel). Another 3 hour drive, it was midnight when I got home (leaving very early it had been a long day). We had put a large dog cage in the living room so Cleo could get used the first night to the environment.
For the first few days we just let her explore, we tried to put her on a 25mtr cord but the minute this tightened, she freaked out and managed to slip out of her harness. Our terrain is fully 2 metre fenced but podencos are known to climb, so we were quite scared that she would want to escape. We need not have worried, Cleo has no fear of dogs or any intention of escaping and loved to sniff around and explore the grass, wood and all else. She entered (a bit shy) the house by herself.
The first encounter with our 6 cats also went well, she was not interested in them.
Touching her was impossible, the minute she saw your hand she backed away, often giving out a loud cry. After four weeks her screws needed to be removed, she had improved and now and then allowed us to stroke her back with our arm stretched far from us. The Calmivet worked fine this time and the operation went quickly. She needed some bandaging but did not fall back as we had feared.
As time goes by. Cleo is the happiest little dog you have ever seen. Her tail and bum go from left to right 24/7, she smiles the whole day and plays with the other dogs. She can get along with all other 19 members of the family but her big friends are Rex, the handicapped German Shepherd, Penny the fragile galgo and Saar the cross Barzoi/Greyhound. She loves to steal my slippers especially when I am just in my bed and she then hides them.
In the house we can now stroke her, she sits next to you, waves one of her paws at you and carefully we can stroke her head, back and belly. I even can pick her up sometimes, and take her on my lap; we do this exercise so she will learn it is alright. She wants to cuddle so badly but the fear is not yet gone, she does not have the courage yet to take something (cookie) out of your hand, and sometimes when you stroke her she can give a large yell and runs away, tail between her legs.
Collar and leash are still a no-go. Luckily this is not necessary, it would have been impossible to home this girl in an environment where she would have to go out on a leash.
Outside is a different story, she runs and plays and comes to you when you call her but you cannot touch her. She will run straight away the moment you bent over.
We love her deeply because she shows so much gratitude and she makes us smile every day. We will give her all the love, patience and time she needs. There is no rush, there is no “must”.
Working with ill,old, handicapped OR traumatised dogs (animals) is hard work, it never stops but the reward is worth it, the first waggling of a tail, the first lick on your hand, the look in their eyes.
Just remember it takes respect, patience and time to gain the trust of an animal and most important to let the animal be itself and not something you want it to be.
Love and best wishes for 2013 for all who work to make the life of animals better
Chairman Foundation Djimba
NB Cleo will live with Betty forever, she is not up for adoption.