Of hunters, prey, and the ones caught in between

There is a saying in Dutch: “Een ongeluk komt nooit alleen” – literal translation is “An accident never comes alone”. After Jabba hurt his eye 10 days ago, we thought we’d come off easy; Saturday, we had a new misadventure (although this time it was worse).

Since we’ve been here, we had noticed a lot of hunters around in the weekends, especially in the mornings and just before sunset. From our house in the village we could very clearly hear them shouting, the dogs barking, and shooting of course.

In the last 3 weeks, we’ve also been on our finca (our piece of land about 1,5 km from the village) every single day, in the morning and usually also after lunch (until it’s really too dark to work), we never saw or heard hunters in the proximity of our finca. We never thought of our land as hunting ground either; it’s mostly almond and olive grove, not a place for big game to hang around. (of course I know nothing about hunting, I don’t really understand hunting as a sport to be honest, as opposed to hunting for food).

Saturday, we were working at our finca (Axel was picking almonds, I was looking for “cerises del pastor”). As the sun began setting, we heard some hunters, far away; I decided to go read a bit on a lookout point on the land. This way I would be sitting in the sun until it completely disappeared behind the hill – and maybe I would be able to get a glimpse of the hunters, who were probably behind the next mountain or so. Jabba (our big future guard dog, who’s now 4,5 months old) and Jinx (our little mutt, almost 8 years old now) were playing about 50m from me.

Suddenly, Jabba started barking in an alarming way; I got up just in time to see 2, then 3, then a lot of dogs running towards us. By the time Jabba and Jinx were back with me, we were suddenly surrounded by a dozen of hunting dogs. Jabba was barking and howling, I was yelling and waving my arms to hold them off, while Jinx was hiding between my legs. The dogs were clearly targeting little Jinx, yapping and snapping at her, but I managed to hold them off for a bit… Until suddenly everything happened at once: I made a wrong movement (not sure what), really hurt my knee, started screaming in pain instead of rage (I think the dogs picked up on that); some of the dogs tried to get to Jabba who ran to higher ground and fought them off from there; Jinx tried to run off as well but was soon overtaken by 4 or 5 of the dogs, who bit her, shaking her, and every time I caught up and managed to get the dogs off, Jinx ran off and the dogs got to her again… This lasted for an eternity (it couldn’t have been more than a minute or 2, I think), until Axel came running from the other field, and one of the hunters caught up with the dogs at last.

Axel got Jinx to safety (he actually picked her up and held her high until the dogs were gone, and as soon as he put her down again she speared off towards the car), and he was so full of blood that I was sure she wouldn’t survive… the only other dog fight incidents I had ever witnessed were with Staffords, who could have broken her neck and caused fatal internal injury within seconds. Thankfully, those were (crossbreed) Podenco’s (Spanish hunting dogs) – really fast dogs with a strong hunting instinct, but not as strong-jawed as your average power dogs.

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One of the hunters trying to get the last dog into the trailer

It took Jabba and myself ages to get back to the almond grove, where the car was. Not only was I in pain and walking very slowly, we also regularly encountered a few of the hunting dogs again – Jabba held them off barking, and the hunters were doing their best rounding them up. It turned out they just parked their car at the border of our finca, probably minutes before the incident; they were planning on using the road that goes through our land, to get the dogs back into the car’s trailer after the hunt…

The hunters were really sorry about the incident, immediately provided us with their information and lots of advise – on how to treat Jinx (my Spanish isn’t so good yet, but I think they were talking about superglue), how to fight off the dogs a next time (throwing stones), and where to go with a claim (the local bodega / wine dealer, apparently).

Jinx being supercool while the vet is checking on her

Jinx being supercool while the vet at Nexo animal hospital is checking on her (and shaving her)

As soon as I got to the car, I checked on Jinx, who was in shock and in pain; she had a few big bite wounds (several smaller ones), and I was fearing for internal bleeding as well. So we immediately set out for the animal clinic in Tortosa (3rd time in 3 weeks!), where she was shaven, checked, cleaned up, sedated, shaven a little more and stitched up where possible… thankfully, the internal bleeding was not too bad and we were able to take her home that same night.

Now, 2 days later, I’m just happy because things could have been a lot worse. What if I hadn’t reacted the way I had (if I had picked up Jinx, the dogs would have teared her apart), what if Jabba hadn’t managed to keep them off (the blood we found on Jabba turned out to be all Jinx’s, Jabba seemed to have a few sore spots but no bite marks), what if Axel and the hunter had been there only 30 seconds later,…

Jinx and I are now spending our days at home, getting fed (food, drinks & medication when necessary) by Axel, and being entertained by Jabba. Jabba even gave up his bench so Jinx could sleep in peace (he now sleeps on Jinx’ tiny bed, which is far too small for him, but he seems content with it). Although Jinx is far worse off than I am (she’s all black and blue all over, with stitches here and there), she has already gone on walks and seems to be recovering just fine. This afternoon though, Axel took me to the doctor in Calaceite and we got me a pair of crutches so I can accompany Jinx on her walks from now on 🙂

3 things I’ve learned in a very short amount of time now:

tablillas-para-cotos-de-caza-37027912_31. When buying land in inland Spain, make sure you get a sign to keep the hunters of your land (I think nobody wants a group of hunters with a dozen hunting dogs on their land without warning, even if you don’t have a dog yourself!). Once there’s a house on your land, the hunters will probably avoid the place, but as long as there’s nothing, how are they to know they shouldn’t go there?

2. When confronted with a bunch of Podenco’s who’re going for the kill, throw stones to keep them off. Not very animal friendly, but believe me, when you see them you don’t want to be friendly.

3. Never say no to a course in First Aid for Pets – you never know when you’re going to need it. Oh and those 10 years working at a pet clinic probably helped as well 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Of hunters, prey, and the ones caught in between

  1. Zeer leuke blog. David vertelde ons over het jachtincident met de honden. Wij waren toen samen op weg naar Horta om er een bankrekening te openen…
    We zijn vooral benieuwd naar jullie bouwtraject, vooral omdat dit ook nog voor ons ligt.
    Eric en Paul uit België (en later Cretas …)

    • Fijn dat jullie hier ons ook volgen, toekomstige (min of meer) buren! Zijn jullie nu nog steeds in Spanje, of alweer in Belgenland? Het lijkt me wel leuk om eens kennis te maken!
      Wij zijn zelf ook heel erg benieuwd naar ons bouwtraject… Ze zouden in oktober beginnen bouwen, maar het heeft wat vertraging opgelopen. We weten nu niet exact wanneer ze er aan beginnen. Volgende week maken we echter kennis met de aannemer, daar wordt vast weer over geblogd!

  2. he Sandrineke, veel beterschap en een snel herstel! je hebt daar alvast een meute honden tegoed om voor de ploeg te spannen! 🙂

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