Careto, one lucky Spanish dog, adopted by Glenwood family
Post Independent Correspondent
College student and Glenwood Springs native Lily Thorsen has just returned from a semester abroad in Granada, Spain. Although she anticipated having some meaningful takeaways from her time in this especially beautiful region of the country, Thorsen did not anticipate coming home to Colorado with a new best pal.
“His name is Careto, which is a Spanish word similar in meaning to ‘buddy’ in English,” she said. “He was covered in fleas when they found him.”
Once homeless and forgotten on the streets of Granada, Careto is now enjoying a new life as a fancy-free Rocky Mountain dog with the Thorsen family here in Glenwood. Getting him home was nothing short of a small miracle.
Earlier this fall, Thorsen set off for Granada via a study abroad program with Lake Forest College in Illinois, where she is double majoring in biology and Spanish and minoring in chemistry. After arriving in Spain, Thorsen, whose parents are veterinarians, immediately went to work taking Spanish language classes and interning at a small local veterinary clinic.
“The clinic I interned at is really small — they had one vet, a receptionist, a part-time groomer and me. I was the only study abroad student there, and I helped by working sort of in a vet tech role,” she said. “The vet there is part of a rescue association that helps with stray dogs in Granada, and I ended up meeting Careto through that group.”
The association, called Animal Y Co, is a foster-based program with a group of volunteers who take in stray animals as they wait to be placed with adoptive families.
“Many of the shelters in that area are considered possibly unsafe for the animals, so people with Animal Y Co take care of them in their own homes,” Thorsen reported. “A woman named Carol found Careto running loose in the street, and he was in really bad shape. She ended up taking care of him for about six months, even with four other animals in her house, and was trying to find a new home for him.”
While Thorsen was interning at her vet clinic, Careto’s caretaker brought him by one day. Careto appeared to have a tumor-like growth on his foot, and he needed an exam. Thorsen recalled that meeting him was something akin to love at first sight.
“I immediately liked him. He was just so sweet, a little timid — and I was drawn to him because of his situation. Other stray dogs had been finding homes pretty quickly, but not him,” she said. Although the details of Careto’s past cannot be known for sure, Thorsen and representatives from Animal Y Co believe he was likely dumped after spending his younger years as a hunting dog.
“Careto is a Spanish breed called a podenco, and they are used to hunt rabbits. Usually hunters will work them until they’re about 3 or 4 years old, and then unfortunately they often will get rid of them by hanging them or just abandoning them,” Thorsen noted. “There are lots of stray podencos in Spain, and many people don’t want them after they’ve been dumped.”
Careto is indeed one lucky podenco. Shortly after Thorsen met him, her parents Drs. Bob Thorsen and Lori Pohm came to visit her in Granada. The couple own All Dogs and Cats Veterinary Hospital in Glenwood and decided to have a look at the growth on Careto’s foot.
“And then they took him home when they left in mid-October,” Lily Thorsen recalled with a laugh.
After traveling about nine hours by car from Granada to Barcelona, Careto boarded a flight to the United States with Thorsen’s parents. Once at home in Glenwood Springs, they determined that his foot growth was non-cancerous and were able to remove it entirely. Careto is now healthy, happy, and active — albeit with one less toe.
“He’s just now getting back to normal after his surgery. My mom says he likes to chase squirrels and little rodents, which is pretty funny,” Thorsen said. “I am really excited to get back home and spend more time with him.”
After completing her undergraduate studies at Lake Forest, Thorsen plans to continue her education and become a veterinarian like her parents.
Fresh mountain air, plenty of squirrels to chase, and multiple vets in the family? Welcome home, Careto. Not a bad life for an abandoned hunting dog once destined for an uncertain future.
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