GDS is actively fundraising for the building that will serve as a reception, meeting and work area. Presently a caravan is used for meeting and working but it is woefully inadequate as it is also a living area for volunteers. We will also use it for privately interviewing potential local adopters as we are focusing on placing our dogs in Murcia and its environs.
Michael G. Velez Sr. from the USA is our first official volunteer. When asking how he was enjoying the glut of galgos he replied that he is having a blast!! Triana is benefiting from a little one-on-one time.
There has been a rush of activity as our deadline to move the dogs has come on us very quickly. We've had some brilliant helpers — Sue Hudson from the UK, Ingeborg & Lenny from Holland, Nina from Austria (here long term), and Sam of Madrid. Just missing in the photo is Julie who has already gone back to the UK & Olga who is the behind the scenes silent assassin but here is the awesome 'A' team that have helped us move so smoothly to the New Center! Also, was Jamie Solera and Brian of Ibizan Hound Rescue and his double decker van that help tremendously in moving the dogs. The old temporary kennels have been moved and installed until we can raise the funds for the next kennel block. Water is on, casitas have working electricity and flushing toilets. The first group of dogs have settled in nicely and the fencing has been reinforced. It's a miracle thanks to all our supporters and donors without whom none of this would have happened. What started out as a glimmer of an idea is now real!
The slab for the first 30 kennels has been poured!
Lots of machinery and technicians on the land — the work is underway!
One of the major reasons that GDS need a proper centre is to establish a desperately needed volunteer programme. With the amount of dogs we have and the care and socialization they require, we would welcome as many hands as we could get. However, it is just not feasible under our present circumstances for too many reasons to enumerate. The volunteers that we post on our Facebook page have been with us from the beginning, know the routines and have accepted being largely ignored for hours at a time to work on their own, being peed, pooped and vomited on, near starved and made to sleep with mice and eternal night howling. However, until the funds are raised to build our center, we would like to share the musings of Julie Watkinson — we look forward to the day when she can provide an up-to-date GDS Volunteer Booklet for our centre.
GDS Volunteer Instruction Booklet
Here I am, the woman most likely to have a bottle of anti-bac hand gel (actually probably more than one) in my handbag, the woman who will not go to public loos at all if they smell bad and the woman with 'poo pouri' in every toilet in the house (yes really, you spray it and it stops your poos smelling). GDS was a real challenge and I thought I might explain a little, in the hope that it might prepare future volunteers and give others a taste of life on the finca!
Firstly, try this… I can happily say that I am able to block my nose off internally, I thought everyone could but apparently they can't. Very useful at GDS, I didn't sniff much for the whole week! I have no idea if Tina and Sam smell of roses or wet dogs (althought I suspect
the latter). So if you can't do it you might want to practice, that or take a peg as cleaning those babies is STINKY work, not to mention if Tina ropes you into a 'poo to the dump' run… wooaahh!
Be prepared for the fact there is never enough time, you get up early to get organised but you don't as there is always something urgent to attend to. Most days I was, sensibly, not showered when starting the cleaning (which takes easily three hours and that is just the smaller finca) but then the ten mins allocated to a shower got eaten up by an emergency and I ended up at the vets or chemist or charity shop, looking slightly deranged (no make up and more of a hair don't than a hair do — especially after I lost a contact in the dog kennel — that was one time I decided NOT to search!) and smelling less than fresh. Its all about the pressure of time, I actually realised one day in the late afternoon that I hadn't even cleaned my teeth! How Tina remains so gorgeous I have NO idea but will share that she sometimes sleeps in her clothes…
Wellies are a must, I thought I was clever when I took old crocs forgetting that 'things' can seep in through the holes, spent half an hour one morning thinking I had wee between my toes only to discover it was something worse… much worse. (I know, I know but when you are feeding the dogs there is no opportunity in their minds for you to fanny off and wash your feet). I was also there when it was raining and crocs on wet tiles = hard fall and big bruise on bum, crocs on muddy ground = hard fall and mud splashed everywhere (not to mention very startled galgos!). Needless to say, two pairs of crocs abandoned in Murcia. When walking around the finca you are walking in all sorts and even though you try to sluice your shoes it doesn't always work. On an accountant visit with Tina, I was horrified to smell my own feet, I stuck them right under my chair but not sure that helped!
All GDS puppies have a hundred claws on each paw — true fact.
Think about clothing, old obviously, I had that one sorted (take old stuff and bin it) or so I thought. You get very dirty but also need to cover up all flesh as those galgos are loving and keen to be loved but have HUGE paws with about 100 claws on each foot, which I believe puppies have specially sharpened by their mums. Walking into the puppy pen with eight of them vying for attention was akin to a new form of torture! Oh, and anything even slightly 'floaty' is fair game to a galgo puppy, shred, shred, shred. Talking about clothing, never assume that because you are in the middle of nowhere, you can take a chance. Sam and I were rushing to go to the vet and I was still in cleaning clothes, I daringly whipped my things off in the middle of the quiet countryside, not a sound to be heard… as I exposed my somewhat less than supermodel body… four cars, a truck load of workmen, the next door farmer and a bl**dy tractor appeared, I am thinking it took them most of the morning to recover from the shock!
A head torch is a great idea as the finca is in the middle of nowhere, at night there are often things you want to go and check on but juggling a torch whilst getting through gates and doors with galgos on both sides is not easy, nay virtually impossible. Head torch might look geeky but it can't be dropped in dog wee and I am certainly getting one for my next visit.
What else??? Let me think. Chocolate to eat when you miss breakfast (and lunch) and possibly dinner, independent spirit, a desire to work super hard, extra supplies of admiration (a normal quota is definitely not enough ...), endless supplies of strokes, cuddles, tickles and love. What a marvellous experience but not one for the faint-hearted! Good luck to all who walk the GDS path and to those who decide it is a step too far — buy an Alibar hat (find Alibar Dog Knits on facebook) or do a monthly sponsorship, put your pup on 16 dogs a day, buy a wrist band or simply just keep them in your thoughts, it is all just as important as the high profile stuff. — JULIE WATKINSON
The Murcia council has signed off the design, everything is to code and our budget couldn't be any slimmer without compromising the safety of the facility. We are as barebones as can be while still complying to regulations. Our electricity has been brought into the land (and is paid for) as well as the water (also paid for). Now, we have the very challenging task of raising the funds for a small building and kennels to house 120 dogs. Crowd funders, auctions, e-blast solicitations — we will continue to push on until we have the 300,000 euros to finish Phase I and move all our dogs under one roof.
June 18, 204. Thanks to the diligence of our engineer and architect, Jesus Torres Rubio, Progecon Ingenieria, a fair price for bringing electrical and water into the land was confirmed. Through the hard work and loyalty of the GDS supporters who believe in the importance of building a Center, the funds were raised! The funds have been paid and the next step is installation. The next HUGE steps will be the raising the funds for the kennels and building but with all of you behind us, we know we will accomplish what the rescued galgos and podencos deserve. We will be a legally approved sanctuary and education center with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. The price for preparing the site and building 100 kennels with facility to expand to 300 and a small facility with a vet’s room is 300,000 euros. We will be sending out an email soon with a breakdown of the budget and naming opportunities. We have to do this for the hounds and the viability of Galgos del Sol.
Today, 18 June 2014, GDS became a property owner! We could not have done it without our supporters and their faith that GDS will make a better life for our dogs and future dogs in need with a proper facility. At present we have over 100 dogs, mostly galgos but several podencos and mixed breeds that we could not ignore and leave to suffer. We rush between three locations and have dogs in paid foster care as well. In addition to our three locations, In one direction is our charity shop, in another is one of our vets and even further, in a very distant location, is the hospital where our serious cases needing surgery go. Constantly on the go is a mild understatement. There is no glamour involved with the cycles of poop scooping, vomit cleaning, washing bedding and two times daily feedings. Every day is Ground Hog Day. Would we give this up? Absoutely NOT! Despite the frustrations with the abuse and abandonment of the dogs, seeing their progress and sending them off healed to forever homes, makes the difference. I know GDS is making a difference. Establishing the Galgos del Sol Education and Rescue Centre will make even more of a difference and have a huge impact on our community not to mention the dogs. Thank you to everyone who is helping to make this a reality. Next steps? Phase II which involves raising money for permits, licenses and utilities.