It was after midnight back in July 2014. I was volunteering in Ilioupolis animal Welfare Union back then, and that night we were chatting with some fellow volunteers when one of them posted about a German Shepherd just abandoned up on the mountain. According to the guard working the night shift in the municipality’s garage, a car appeared out of nowhere, dropped off a neglected dog and just left. The guard called a volunteer and she notified the rest of us. Continue reading Neglected Dog Abandoned On A Mountain Finds Her Dream Home
Abandoned matted and left to survive on the streets on his own, Combo had even something even worse done to him. He was spotted by a woman, Sophia, wandering alone in a suburb of Athens, Greece in terrible condition. How this tiny baby wasn’t rescued sooner isn’t even worth discussing. Sophia contacted Save a Greek Stray, and the next day Combo was taken to the shelter.
He looked so confused. He just kept watching his rescuers take care of him, and in his huge eyes you could see nothing but awe and fear. I’ve never met a dog so cooperative and submissive as him. He never made a sound, never reacted to anything that was being done to him. He just stood there while he received a haircut and a bath, as if he was stuffed toy, as if he has never been treated gently before.
Apart from the matted hair and all the dirt he was carrying in his tiny, suffering body, the dozens of tick draining him, the wounds and his terrible skin condition, what we discovered while shaving his neck was far worse. Two stitches on the back of his neck, right where the microchip once used to be. Nobody can actually tell when it was removed, and for what reason – whether it was done by the previous owners, before abandoning him to survive on his own, or by the people who stole him and had to remove the microchip so that he wouldn’t be traced. But one thing is for certain, it was done by someone who knew how to do it.
When you are involved in animal welfare in Greece, there’s nothing that can ever amaze you. Neglect, abuse, abandonment, emaciation, dogs found shot in the head, hang in trees or drowned deliberately in the sea, plastic bags with newborn kittens of puppies recovered from garbage bins… you name it. But Combo’s story was a first -at least for me.
I just felt stupid. We try our best to educate people about their pet’s wellbeing, and micro chipping is one of the main campaigns of all animal welfare organizations. But what’s the point? What’s the point when anyone can just take a knife, dig up through the animal’s neck and remove it? Should we even mention what happened to Combo, or will we be giving some sick people the idea of doing it too?
It took a few weeks for Combo to trust and realize that there’s nothing to be afraid of. He spent about a month just laying there in his kennel, looking. Looking at us take care of him every day. He would just eat and go back to sleep. He was so submissive and calm that we started wondering how he would turn out to be once he gained back his confidence.
And against all odds, Combo turned out to be the ultimate sweetheart. Once you open his kennel door, he will jump right into your arms and stay there forever. He never leaves a hug, and unless you put him down yourself, he will just stay there forever. He’s already started taking small walks around the shelter, and is so human centered that he will follow you around, wherever you go, as he was trained to do so. He’s the sweetest boy I’ve ever met and I just can’t have enough of him.
Combo has yet to recover, until he’s ready for his forever home. He’s responding to treatment very well, gaining weight and confidence and has left behind all that hurt in the past. His beautiful reddish will grow back, and we’ll make sure that he gets to spend the rest of his life as he deserves.
First of all I need to apologize. Most of you who follow my Youtube channel and the blog know that I’m all about positivity. I never post anything that may prevent you from sleeping at night, unless the animal has already been rescued and is now safe. I am simply against making viewers and followers feel sick, posting any material that might spoil the rest of their day. So I just suck it in, and share the bright side of animal rescue – the one where the dogs have recovered and their suffering is buried in the past. Continue reading Rescue In That Terrible Place We Call Home
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.