WARNING: Disturbing content.
When I hear talk of podencos (Spanish hounds) being shot by owners after hunting season - or for whatever reason a hunter might have - I imagine a little bullet hole placed in the sternum like a medal. I am, after everything, still naïve.
The latest video passing through my rescue may crush the last of that naiveté. In it, a smallish, russet brown podenca sits curled on the ground. She seems tired, perhaps lost, or just confused. Her head bobs, but she holds it as high as she can.
As the clip progresses, her head turns, revealing a huge, blood-black crater where her eye and the right side of her face used to be. She had been shotgun-blasted, half her head blown off.
She turns again, dips what remains of her mouth to drink from a tiny pool of water on the dirt in front of her.
Here's the back story: The podenca, still full with milk, having recently given birth to a new litter of pups for her hunter - as this is the cyclic life of a hunter's breeding podenca - was no longer wanted by the hunter. The boy who videoed her reported that the owner had shot to kill, but seeing that she survived the shot, elected not to waste a second bullet on her. How long she might suffer before dying was not of interest to him. Never mind that she had provided many litters of new hunting dogs over her lonely life with him. (Not with him, really. Hunting podencos live outside, chained in shacks, bunkers, junkpiles, or wherever, but not indoors with their hunter-owners.) Instead of shooting her, the hunter-owner could have called a rescue to come and take her away; why didn't he? Too much trouble, perhaps - podencos tend to be seen as a sort of throw away dog in Spain - or perhaps, as is commonly the case, the hunter wanted to punish his dog. Was he not happy with her puppies? Who knows.