The Plight of the Podencos

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Before I hand over to Tania Coates (SOS Animals UK) I just wanted to share my personal experience. Until I came to Spain I had never come across a Podenco. Two years ago, a Podenco mix puppy was thrown out of a car in Nueva Andalucia. This big eared, quivering wreck gave my partner and I one look filled with such sorrow, that we took him in there and then.

Kobi is like marmite; people either love or hate him. If I walk him along the beach people regularly stop and take photos of him, however it is also common for people to cross the street to avoid us and one man even told my partner that Kobi was a beast and should be muzzled. Poor Kobi has been compared with everything from a rat to the mutants in the movie I Am Legend. However I think he is beautiful. The breed does have a bad reputation and, yes, I will put my hand up, they are a lot of work. However, the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives. Podencos are incredibly loyal; Kobi follows me everywhere. If I cry he licks away my tears and if I am ill he sits by my side. I have never known a dog be as gentle with food and obviously I wouldn’t recommend this, but my partner’s daughter once took food out of his bowl while he was eating and he didn’t move a muscle. As for protection you couldn’t get a better guard dog. I cannot understand why they are so badly treated in this country.

They say that dogs are man’s best friend - well Kobi is mine.Spain has a long tradition of hunting with dogs, and two breeds – the Galgo and the Podenco – are generally used in the south.

The Galgo is similar to a Greyhound, but tougher and with more stamina, while the Podenco (which means hound in Spanish) is similar in stature to the Pharaoh Hound, with his large chest and shallow belly. However some – such as the Podenco Maneto – can be squat, or even medium-size or large like the Podenco Ibicenco (Ibizan Hound). Both Galgos and Podencos are considered ancient breeds and it is often claimed that the Podenco is a descendant of the hounds of the Pharaohs, and is believed to have arrived in Europe in around the eighth century.

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Although some of these Spanish dogs are cared for adequately, many are treated very poorly, and at the end of the hunting season it is not uncommon for dogs to be shot or hung because they are considered no longer useful. The streets and countryside of Spain are full of strays and abandoned dogs are left to breed unchecked. In addition, neutering and vaccination are very rare.

Spanish pounds and rescue shelters are over-populated with dogs looking for homes, and SOS Animals is one such shelter. Run by Spanish, British and Swedish volunteers, around 60 or 70 dogs are cared for at any one time whilst efforts are made to find foster and forever homes for these abandoned animals.

SOS Animals UK was set up over four years ago to try and help with this dreadful situation. A volunteer-run organisation, it is dedicated to helping the SOS shelter in Spain care for, foster and find new homes for the dogs in the UK and also helps several fosterers in Spain who are equally overwhelmed with Podencos and Podenco crossbreeds. The breed is very common in Spain, and often overlooked in many of the shelters.

Podencos and Galgos can make brilliant pets, and SOS Animals ensures it finds the right home for these wonderful dogs. They have a detailed rehoming process which begins with an assessment of an animal, which is then matched to a home where his or her needs will be fully met. Discussion about a would-be adopter’s lifestyle, experience with dogs, and expectations of life with a Podenco may ultimately lead to a home check and visit to meet the dog concerned at the foster home. Once a home is found, they offer full back-up and support for the new owner to ensure the dog is properly settled.

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Podencos are renowned escapologists, and it is not unusual for them to jump six foot high fences in a single leap: a secure garden is therefore an absolute must. They are multi-sensory hounds who are far more robust than Greyhounds, Lurchers and other sight hounds (who hunt using sight and speed primarily). They can be mischievous and full of fun, yet also watchful and gentle. Although these dogs are absolutely stunning in every way, they are not ideal companions for everyone. Specific breed needs can mean they must be rehomed in a family that already has a dog or dogs and new owners must be aware that a Podenco may have to be on lead when not in a securely fenced location: these agile hounds require a lot of exercise and their recall can be selective at the best of times. All of the dogs rescued by SOS Animals are micro-chipped, vaccinated, neutered, and blood-tested and any medical needs taken care of. Since the establishment of SOS Animals, the organisation has found forever homes for thousands of dumped and stray dogs, the vast majority of which were Podencos. Please visit our websites and Facebook page to meet the many Podencos looking for loving forever homes.

UK: sos-animalsuk.org.uk
Spain: sos-animals.org
Sweden: sos-animals.se
Facebook: SOSAnimalsUK

 
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