Stray dogs roaming the Greek beaches every summer have one thing in common usually: they all seem to be having a great time there. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend all day on a beach in the summer?
One of the reasons people were insisting that I didn’t take Lou or Blue for “where they belonged” is that they seemed to belong there, and unfortunately such notions prevent many amazing animals from finding their forever homes, condemning them to starve in the empty, cold beaches of October.
The truth is that what makes a dog happy is one and only thing: us, humans. It’s in their DNA, they evolved to be around us, and the reason why those lonely summer dogs seem “happy” is because they are among people.
Once the people are gone, the beach dogs starve and make their way to the nearby villages, begging for left overs. Most of them don’t live to see another summer. Greek stray dogs are expendable and their lifespan is at 9 months. Every few months there is a massive poisoning spree that “clears” the area of the unwanted “man’s best friends”, until new strays come up from all the uncontrollable births.
Lou seemed “happy” on the beach, but if you know dogs, you could tell that he was not happy. He was as lonely as a dog can be. I realized that when I brought him back. After he understood what belonging meant, after it became clear to him that no matter what, his human would be by his side at all times, he completely lost his independent, “free” spirit, and what made him happy was to be around me and other people he trusted.
The happy Lou I met on the beach had nothing to do with the happy Lou I fostered. While at home, with me and my dogs, Lou’s reaction to being treated as a pet dog was “Oh my! Now that’s what I call happiness!”.
When I took him from the beach that day by force, as he was bouncing around in panic all the way to the car I promised him one thing: that the interval between his life on the beach and his forever home would be as short as it could possibly be. And call me crazy, but I think that promise actually worked. I never wanted a dog to be adopted as quickly as him, and his family contacted me a few minutes after his video was posted.
Actually, I believe they were waiting for him. They had decided to adopt a third dog some months before, and the dog that belonged to them was Lou. I happened to find him and decide to take him because I was the one who could help them find each other – and I truly believe that.
Lou left for his forever home in Vienna just a couple of days ago. He traveled with a blanket and some toys his family had sent for him, that smelled like home. And when he arrived, he was home, and this was more than obvious. It’s not just the photos and the videos and the descriptions of the family, it’s more than that.
Lou is a dog that needs a few days to trust you completely. Imagine that he spent 10 whole days with me, and when I put the collar on him, he was so “offended” that he disappeared on me for 5 whole hours. I had warned them that he would be wary and reserved at the beginning, but he wasn’t. Maybe because those three months of training paid off, or maybe because he always belonged there, and he knew it.
Anyway… I can’t thank his family enough, so I am just dedicating this post to them – that’s all I can do. A huge thanks to everyone involved in Lou’s journey to happiness, Alexandra, Frances, Bettina, Micaela, Gerlinde, Ursula and Frieden für Pfoten.