Shadow was rescued in Greece in December 2016, juts a few days before Christmas. She had been spotted by a SPAZ volunteer a few days before, in the outskirts of Athens in terrible condition, living as a stray and feeding off corpses to survive.
Her rescue was a three day task. Approaching her was impossible – she was a wild one, a dog that had probably never been in any contact with humans before. She didn’t know us, she didn’t trust us and she would show her teeth every time we approached.
She had to be sedated, and even when she was under the influence of the drug, she put up quite a fight when she realized that she was about to be captured. Her rescue was traumatic, but we had no other choice. If she wasn’t rescued that morning, she would be shot by the neighbor the same afternoon. This is the warning he gave us, our deadline was that morning and we had no other choice but to do everything we could to catch her.
Shadow’s rescue story:
Her condition and her character made the vet imply that the best solution would be to put her to sleep. But volunteer don’t go to all this trouble to rescue a dog, just to put it to sleep a few hours later. And – no offence – but we know more about dogs than vets do, and we have seen dogs in much worse condition than Shadow thrive.
She was lucky enough to be fostered by Zaira, an amazing volunteer who turned her whole life around to “fix” a dog that was damaged, physically and emotionally. It took months of taking tiny steps, just to have Shadow trust her and only her. And after she recovered, Shadow remained a very difficult dog, that had us all wonder how on earth would someone have the patience and the will power to give her the time she needed to adjust to a new home.
Who will adopt this dog? Who will adopt a dog that trust nobody apart from Zaira? A dog that can growl, and even bite if treated the wrong way? What is she is adopted and returned? What then? How do you repair that damage? All those questions kept torturing us every day, and I know that Zaira was prepared for the possibility of being “stuck” with Shadow for the rest of her life.
But Shadow is one lucky dog. She had been living in the shadows all her life but once she came out to the light, she shinned so bright that her light reached all the way to Austria, to Sophie and Franjo, who decided to adopt this gorgeous, difficult dog and make her a part of their family, their pack.
Our heads were about to explode for an entire month, before Sophie came to pick her up. What would the best was would be for her to be introduced to the other dogs of the family? How long would it take for her to trust Sophie? And Franjo? She hadn’t been really introduced to men before. What if she bites them? What is they can’t cope? What if she returns?
Sophie arrived in Greece one day and left just five hours later with Shadow. And within just a few days, all our worries disappeared, as we were watching her take small steps towards becoming who she is today. In every photo and video Sophie sent, the memory of that emaciated, mangy dog eating corpses to survive became more and more distant. The fear of her not adjusting, not trusting, not coping vanished. As her new life was beginning, we started fading away, we became shadows she left behind her, as she was accepting the light of her new life. (Ok, that was too poetic).
This is the last time I am calling her Shadow. Her new name is LaVie (life), her life has just began and the light in her heart will only be shining brighter and brighter every day. I owe LaVie a new video – it’s going to be a long one, because in this post I have left out too much that needs to be said. So Sophie, Franjo, Lilly, Kaya and Meddo: I will be thanking properly in a while, the best way I know how to!
*Big thanks to Margaret, my Christie‘s mum, for being there for all of us!