I’ve been going through my galley of The Dark Citadel since this morning, and I’m getting so sick of picking out those commas. It makes me think of what dear old Oscar said:

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

Anyway, I’ve had a bellyfull of commas and so I am writing a blog post about something even more important to me than my writing: Finbar.

Finbar is a dog, of sorts. He is a Galgo, a Spanish greyhound, adopted three years ago from a refuge near Seville and still not properly domesticated. The Galgo is a beautiful and noble animal, kept for centuries for hunting. Unfortunately for the Galgo, although the well bred packs kept by Juan Carlos probably get enough to eat and are allowed inside a kennel in the winter, this is not the case for the scores of thousands of hounds kept by the inhabitants of rural southern Spain who also like a spot of hare hunting. There are, I am told, hunters who treat their animals correctly, but the fact is, that most of them are treated appallingly, with some 50,000 of those surplus to requirements being massacred each year in ways that Goya might well have documented had he been alive today.

The lucky ones end up in shelters, run by very courageous and devoted women who take in the poor, misbegotten creatures they find wandering in the countryside, by the side of motorways, or sheltering on building sites.

Mentalities are changing, and the shelters in the south are finding homes for their dogs in Spain, particularly in the north where the Galgo is not used for hunting, and not considered vermin. A sizeable proportion of adoptions though are via other European countries. Which is how we got Finbar.


I had always wanted a Lurcher, but they don’t have Lurchers in France. Any kind of sighthound is rare, not being a fashion breed like French bulldogs, Chihuahuas or Huskies. When I saw a link to a French site dedicated to exposing the barbarity of the fate of Galgos, I decided we had to adopt one.

Finbar was 18 months old when he was dumped in a refuge by his Gypsy owner because he was useless for hunting. Finbar was lucky. As soon as I saw his picture I decided I wanted him.

The clincher
The clincher

I could write a book about the rocky road to cohabitation with this semi-wild creature; maybe I will one day. He has been with us for three years now, and we are still learning about one another. His relationship with me is quite simple: I am God. It’s his relationship with the rest of the human race that is more complicated. I don’t know what his previous owner(s) did to him, and I’m happier not knowing. Whatever it was, it left deep scars on a basically gentle, playful nature. Maybe, hopefully, one day he will learn that not every man who reaches out a hand to him intends to do him harm.


It is difficult to find the words to express my thanks to the wonderful team at Lévriers Libres, and my admiration for the unsung heroes of the Spanish dog shelters, who work so hard to alleviate some of the misery caused by other people’s ‘fun’.

Photos of Finbar (ex Torquato) taken at the shelter outside Seville courtesy of Lévriers Libres.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

20 thoughts on “Finbar”

  1. He is a lovely dog, more like a racehorse than a Labrador though. The ideal companion for people who aren’t much drawn to dogginess (they don’t lick your face or sniff other dog’s bums) but quite fancy the idea of a small horse.

  2. I’ve had a long complicated history with the comma. There have been times it’s been a constant companion, and other times when we’ve been sick of the sight of each other and lept a wide berth!

    Lovely lovely doggie btw. I really can’t stand cruelty…the sole reason I have two doggies is because the dreadful place I got them from, was so horrific I couldn’t stand to leave any but could only afford two. The RSPCA promptly closed them down, someone beat me to the punch as they’d already been reported when I contacted them. Just horrible how people treat animals…

    Now…onto nicer things! I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Bogger Award, congratulations!!!! Very well deserved! 😀 xx

  3. Blimey! It never rains but it pours! Thanks so much Sophie for the nomination.
    I’ve seen pictures of your two beautiful white wolves. Is it a breed or just a very happy accident of nature?

    1. Lol! A breed, they’re actually German Shepherds, never knew you could get the white variety though…I was a happy accident that I found them though…some things are meant to be, eh? 😀

  4. Finbar sounds glorious. A lovely looking animal. I had to laugh at your small horse comment too. I’d normally put in a load of commas in the 3 sentences above. But heck. It sounds like you’re sick of the sight of them. :).

    1. Don’t! It is so true, the agonising over which commas you can safely cull, and which ones have to be put back in.
      Finbar is a lovely creature. ‘Special needs’ maybe, but worth it.

  5. Sophie, they are so much wilder-looking with the white coat, much more lupine. Know what you mean about destiny. If you don’t follow your heart/instinct you risk regretting it forever.

    1. Yeap! I just wish more people would report cruelty to animals when they see it instead of assuming that someone else has. That’s when you hear about these awful cases of mass cruelty. 😦

  6. The problem in the south of Spain is that the authorities have tended to turn a blind eye to cruelty to Galgos, it has become endemic. Apparently attitudes are beginning to change though—pressure from townspeople I think, who don’t share the rural populations’ idea of a fun time.

    1. Uhhh…I know what you mean. I’ve lived in and loved the countryside my whole life, but I just can’t understand those who think it’s fun to cause pain and anguish to animals and call it sport! Dreadfully barbaric! 😦

  7. ….just so wonderful, your finbar dog as a gift… *smile*

    ….my finbar I took from the novel in many parts: “sevenwaters” from juliet marillier, and his gift is a very special ability: to sort of be able to foretell (evil) events showing up in the near future…

    enjoy your day!

  8. Finbar is stunning! I’m not surprised you fell in love with him. I used to have a beautiful brindle Lurcher but sadly she passed last year. Now I care for a Greyhound Rescue sponsor dog called Pearl. Thank goodness for charities that rescue gentle sighthounds from cruel humans.

    1. Finbar is more than ten years older than in those photo and the contrast in his brindle isn’t so clear any more. His face is almost all white now, but his temperament hasn’t changed much. He might be twelve years old but he thinks he’s still a puppy. It doesn’t surprise me that you have stuck with sighthounds. They are very special dogs, and so badly treated. We don’t deserve to live on the same planet.

      1. No, but they get ricketty. I used to long for the day when I’d be able to let Finbar off his lead and not have him disappear in a cloud of dust. I still can’t, but he doesn’t run for as long as he did, poor old thing.

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