There are many things that we love about living in Spain – there are also things that to Northern European sensibilities are totally abhorrent. Here is an excerpt from the book I wrote ‘Walking the Canary Islands’ after walking across all seven islands that make up the Canaries in spring of 2012. This section was written as I was walking in Tenerife.
“It was this afternoon that Stephen mentioned as we drove through the forests, dog hanging. The practice the Spanish have of hanging their hunting dogs when they’ve done with them. A good dog gets hung high, and a dog that hasn’t lived up to expectations gets hung low. Apparently they are occasionally found in the forest on the slopes of Teide. I was shocked, firstly because it’s barbaric, and secondly that somehow I’d never picked up this piece of information. I’d never heard of it happening on Lanzarote. The story here is that if a dog doesn’t come back it gets left, and that they are abandoned when they are no longer of use. It’s not an uncommon sight to see stray Podencos wandering around to support the claim.
But hanging I thought, had to be another of those urban myths spread by expats with nothing to do, like the police brutality tale. I made a mental note to check it out when I got home. I did a couple of weeks later. It was a normal working morning at my desk in the spare bedroom come office we share, when Elle turned to me and asked, “What’s wrong?”
I was sat with tears rolling down my face. I could barely speak, “I don’t want to tell you, and I don’t want you to look”. I asked her for a minute to compose myself. I’ve seen a lot in life, and I’m a fairly ‘tough guy’, but this had got to me in an instant. I’d searched Google Images and was looking at a series of photographs of the most unspeakable human brutality.
As sure as eggs are eggs I was scanning the evidence that it was indeed true. Photographs of dogs hanging high, the lucky ones apparently! Dogs hanging low, hung with their front feet off the ground with the back ones allowed to reach the floor, a method surely designed to prolong its agony. There were photographs of dogs that had managed to survive with horrible wounds right around their necks, and photographs of multiple dogs where the poor animals must have had to watch their pack mate die a miserable death before meeting their own end. I was sick to the stomach, and these images have haunted me ever since. Please, take a word of advice from me, don’t go looking.
It wasn’t just Spain; the pictures were from all over Southern Europe, and parts of Eastern Europe. Ghandi (no relation of course) once said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.
This Gandy says now, “If I ever see someone hanging a dog, I’ll ****** hang them!” That’s the toned down version of the original quote, and I do genuinely mean it…”
If you’re interested in hearing more about Alan’s experiences walking across the Canaries click here to take a look at his book on Amazon – Walking the Canary Islands