Feeling Sheepish in Spain!

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be gauged by the way its animals are treated”.

In the loyalty stakes, some animals, especially dogs, are the ‘stuff’ of legend.

One only has to think of the dog called Hachiko, which waited for ten years at a railway station in Japan for his owner who would never return. The owner, a Japanese professor, who was met by his dog at the station at the end of each day, had died of a heart attack and was never to return home again.

Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye terrier (now known after the cemetery at Greyfriars where his master was buried) mounted a vigil near his master’s grave for 14 years until its own death in 1872. Both of these faithful creatures have had statues erected in their memory.

Spare a thought wherever you may be for the people living in the beleaguered Nations of Europe, although perhaps, at least for the moment, we should leave the Germans out of this group.

Perhaps it’s the state of the world’s economy, or maybe there is a larger malaise, but the financial crisis must be running pretty deep when an owner is forced to abandon a hamster due to lack of funds.

In the middle of the 2011/12 UK winter, a young hamster was found abandoned on a street in Pimlico, which is a relatively affluent London suburb, in the freezing snow. Subsequently named Snowball by Blue Cross the animal rescue shelter involved, the hamster had been found by a passerby in its cage to which a note was attached.

In the note the hamster’s owner apologised, but said that they were no longer able to afford the animal’s upkeep and asked the finder to look after the pet. The hamster was duly rescued, showed no affects from her odyssey and subsequently went to a good home.

Let’s hope this is the end of the saga, unless of course the crisis continues to deepen in which case Snowball could well, in the inimitable words of Willie Nelson, find herself back ‘on the road again’.

These incidents are not necessarily isolated.

Recently in Spain a new chapter was added to the ‘mix’ when a couple of local lads, up in the hills near not far from Mijas, decided to engage in a bit of rustling to help make ends meet. They chose several unsuspecting sheep as their victims.

Mijas is a very pretty and relatively unspoiled hill town, which sits high up in the slopes of the Sierra de Mijas on the Costa del Sol, which is perhaps more famous for its beach front resorts like Marbella and Puerto Banus.

It is certainly a fact that sheep in any form, shape or size do not feature strongly if at all in promotional and publicity material produced to market the region.

The wannabee rustlers, having selected their sheep, loaded up the bleaters and made off with their booty.

Perhaps they were confident that being in a relatively out of the way spot they might get away with this heinous crime undetected but, as luck would have it, their confidence in remaining undetected went unrewarded.

The region might be quiet, but it is also patrolled by the Guardia Civil, which is a sort of paramilitary police force and a bit of a hangover from the Franco era.

Not long after snatching the unsuspecting sheep, the rustlers were spotted by the Guardia, driving along with the sheep sitting in the back seat of their car and the Guardia immediately gave chase.

The thieves panicked and tried to make a getaway by speeding up.

As the car chase developed through the mountains, it became obvious to the thieves that their vehicle was evidently no match for the police car, which gained on them rapidly, so the thieves did the obvious next best thing and started throwing the sheep out of their car at the pursuing police vehicle.

The pursuit eventually came to an end when the rustlers ran out of sheep and were apprehended by the pursuing Guardia.

The footnote to the story is that the thieves, having been caught, were charged and will appear in court and readers will be pleased to hear that no sheep suffered any permanent injuries, although a couple (the original report of the

incident does not confirm whether the term ‘couple’ refers to a social connection between the sheep involved, or is merely a numerical reference) had to be taken to the vet, but were later returned to their owner, apparently none the worse for their ordeal.

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