Fostering dogs has become a part of my life. About a year ago, March 24 2015, I came back from the airport crying. Crying a mixture of happy and ego tears. I have fostered many dogs, and loved them all as if they were mine, but if I had to choose the one that had the biggest impact on me, that would be Billy – and that day I said my goodbyes at the airport, and let him go. It was my hardest farewell so far – not that any goodbye has ever been easy. Continue reading Fostering Dogs – Why We Have To Let Go
March 21 is the international day for the elimination of racism. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely do not want to take advantage of that just to make a point, but this is a pet blog, and racism is very much present when it comes to breeds, adoptions and rescues. All of us who volunteer and have dedicated our lives in rescuing and rehoming have to face it every day, and do our best to fight it anyway we can. Continue reading Racism And Dogs – Stereotypes We Fight Against
Anything I could ever write about Yasmin would be an understatement. Any attempt to describe who she is and what it feels like to have her around running and jumping all happy would be an understatement. I don’t really know what it takes to make someone who hasn’t met her understand what Yasmin really means to all of us who know her and get to spend time with her, but I’ll give it a try.
My gorgeous is the first dog I adopted. The first dog I ever had. She came to me looking really bad, with that horrible cherry eye sticking out and not knowing much about anything. She was two and a half years old and had spent her entire life in a kennel. So she had to learn everything from the beginning. How to walk on a leash, how to socialize and how to get used to the human presence in the house.
I grew up among stray cats. Everybody in Greece did. They are everywhere. I grew up thinking that the cats belong in every neighborhood, that they belong in the streets, that they can feed themselves and that’s it. Cats –unlike dogs- have this thing that make you believe they can take care of themselves and just don’t need you. So that’s what I believed as a kid. And every time I saw a little kitten on the street I was told the same lie almost every kid is told. That the kitten is fine and that its mum is coming to get it any time soon. And I believed it. Like many kids still do. Continue reading TNR – When you Realize that Honeymoon is Over
I had been following the Save a Greek Stray Facebook page for a couple of years. I used to volunteer at another organization, but the SGS posts were so jaw dropping that every time a new photo made it’s way to my facebook wall I couldn’t help but thinking: “oh, if only I was there, if only there was something for me to do there”. You know that feeling when you’re in a pretty stable relationship but every time you bump into the gorgeous neighbor you get butterflies? That was me and the gorgeous neighbor was the Save a Greek Stray. And the first time I knew I was in love, was when Petra’s first photo was posted. I fell in love with her, and she made me fall in love with the SGS.
Fearful, abandoned and sick, Apollo taught me how to rescue, how to love and how to talk about it. My very first video was about him, so I figured the first post on this blog should be about him. I didn’t know what rescue was until I met him. One day I just looked out my apartment window and there he was. Sitting in a corner on the sidewalk, disorientated, confused and betrayed. Someone had probably abandoned him the night before, and that tiny corner in front of the house was his home for the next three days, until I managed to catch him. He was tested, vaccinated and neutered by ZEIL, and was supposed to be given for adoption, but I could never let go.
Trying to teach Apollo how to hunt must have been like trying to oblige left handed children to use their right hand.
Αpollo is a mix breed hound. A gun shy mix breed hound. He was probably born by a mother that has spent her whole life chained somewhere, delivering puppies meant to live a life similar to hers, or even worse – the typical life of a hound in Greece. Trying to teach Apollo how to hunt must have been like trying to oblige left handed children to use their right hand. It took his previous owner about two years or so, and after the beating, the terrors and God knows what other medieval techniques he used had no effect, he simply opened his car door and left in front of my house a dog that knew nothing about the city, cars, people. He knew nothing about nothing. He only knew the stick that was probably used on him a lot, and with the slightest movement you made towards him, he would cry as if you had just broken one of his bones.
So, petting him was out of the question for months. Playing was out of the question too. He never knew how to play, how to behave and how to live. We had to teach him how to be a dog step by step. The first couple of months, when I walked him people kept asking me if he was old. But he wasn’t. He was about two years old, but he would walk beside me as if he was in pain and with his tail between his legs. I guess the first two years of his life must have felt like eternity. An eternity of neglect, abuse and sorrow. So in a way he grew old. And now it was up to us to make up for his lost puppyhood.
I guess the first two years of his life must have felt like eternity. An eternity of neglect, abuse and sorrow. So in a way he grew old. And now it was up to us to make up for his lost puppyhood.
Turning Apollo into the perfect dog was such a smooth process, that if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Apart from his “intimacy” issues and all the fears that would petrify him, he was a perfect dog to begin with. He just laid there on his bed and sleep for hours, never made a sound and never even did any damage whatsoever. He was so grateful for the little things his new home had to offer him, and his way of expressing his gratitude was by going as unnoticed as possible.
his way of expressing his gratitude was by going as unnoticed as possible.
And he slowly started becoming a dog again. We taught him how to play with us and with other dogs, how to enjoy a walk by keeping his tail up high – and his nose to the ground as a typical hound, how to sit for a treat. He was so eager to learn. Within a few months he already knew so many commands, that even I didn’t believe I had taught him all that simply by observing him and trying to get to know him. I was so thrilled. Before meeting Apollo I had absolutely no idea that a dog you pick from the streets can turn out to be the most perfect companion one could ever dream of. I wanted to share my experience with the world, so I posted my first video that was all about him. And then I couldn’t stop. Two years later, Apollo has his own playlist on my Youtube channel.
I became a rescuer thanks to Apollo. He taught me how to do it, he taught me how talk about it and how to film it.
He’s been there on every holiday, every trip, every minute of the day. He’s been there beside me for better and for worse.
I became a rescuer thanks to Apollo. He taught me how to do it, he taught me how talk about it and how to film it. He has been there for me, and for all my rescues after him. A perfect teacher for all my foster dogs that came after him and the perfect example of what a rescue dog can accomplish. There’s a little bit of footage of him in most of my rescue videos, not because I can’t have enough of him, but because he actually is there, beside me, and beside all the others that were rescued after him.
It’s been about two years since that first video on him, and Apollo keeps evolving every day. He’s been there on every holiday, every trip, every minute of the day. He’s been there beside me for better and for worse. He can now run free in the mountain and come back at recall at any moment, and after three years of being trained and loved and spoilt, he’s afraid of nothing anymore (well, except for that evil ear cleaner that comes out of the drawer every couple of months).
He walked down the aisle with me on my wedding day, and behaved like a gentleman the whole night. And he’ll be there beside me always, as my friend, my teacher and the funniest creature I ever met.