Cat tales

Since the work has been going on next door, Trixie has been very unsettled and doesn’t know where to put herself. She has been spending quite a lot of time in the bureau, mooching around and waiting for a seat to be vacated so she can squat on it.
We did give her her own chair and cushion, but she wants Finbar’s chair. And she wants it all to herself.
Trixie doesn’t like sharing, not even carpets. For example, an innocent dog might be lying asleep in front of the fire. Trixie NEVER sleeps in front of the fire, unless that is what Finbar is doing. This is how she usually operates.

Trixie drops heavy hints
Trixie drops heavy hints

A couple of minutes later…

PENTAX Digital Camera

Nobody knows how she does it, but the place is always vacated. At the moment, as I say, she is upset by the noise of the commandos next door and creeps into the bureau looking for a quiet corner. Finbar has got used to it and after voicing his irritation by barking when they start first thing, he ignores it.
This morning, Trixie came into the bureau and stood in front of Finbar’s chair, lashing her tail and looking intimidating. Finbar didn’t budge. He hadn’t been out for a walk and he was lying doggo, hoping I’d forget. Trixie climbed onto the chair and walked up Finbar’s back. She dug about between his back and the chair trying to get him to move. Usually Trixie can shift anything when she puts her back into it. Archimedes had her in mind when he said the bit about give me somewhere to stick my nose and I will move the Earth.

Finbar playing dead while Trixie tries to burrow into the stuffing.
Finbar playing dead while Trixie tries to burrow into the stuffing.

This time it didn’t work. Finbar is a big dog and I have always thought it miraculous that he manages to fold himself up small enough to fit in an armchair. You’d need a massive shoehorn to get him out. Trixie’s snout, for once didn’t work. So after an attempt to dig up through the bottom of the armchair, she sat on the back of it looking down, working out the options. The best option turned out to be me, turning up with the dreaded lead to take Finbar walkies. The look on that cat’s face I would swear was VICTORY.


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.