Beautiful Ugly Place – The Two Faced Town Of Nafpaktos

Beautiful. Nafpactos is a beautiful town in western Greece, with the Venetian fortress, two beautiful towers at the entrance of the port, the long beach where you can enjoy beautiful walks or bike rides.

My Pela and I yesterday on the beach

The first time I was there, I fell in love. I have never enjoyed a dog walk as much as I enjoyed my first ones on the pedestrian road by the sea. It was in one of those walks when I met Bruno, a stray dog. I had a chat for while with a woman who cared for him. “If I could, I would take him home, he is like a person” she said. Bruno used to greet us every day for a week and walk with us for a while. He was a gentle, sweet dog, the kind of dog that you pick from the street today and tomorrow you feel like he’s only been yours.

Bruno the day he was shot

One week after I went back to Athens, I saw a post about Bruno on the local charity’s Facebook page. He had been shot and was fighting for his life. And then Nafpaktos didn’t look so beautiful anymore. With every new post about the situation there, the town started looking uglier and uglier. Hang dogs, dogs shot in the face, puppies wrapped in plastic bags and drown in the sea. And then River, who had his legs tied, was shoved in a sack and left in the middle of the river to die a horrible death.

From left to right: River, found on a sack in the middle of the river with his legs tied/ A dog hang under a sigh warning for poisons in the area/ a puppy put on a plastic back and drown washed out

I have been visiting Nafpaktos twice per year. Every time there are different strays on the streets. New faces. New abandoned dogs that have no other solution than to make the beach their home. And then, the ones I remember from the previous year are not there anymore.

My dogs, Apollo and Pela meeting two of the strays on the beach

My dogs have the best time when we are there. They love the long walks on the beach, and I love to see them so happy. They used to be like Bruno, you know. They were just luckier. Bruno could have been my dog and my Apollo could have had Bruno’s fate. It is all so relevant and so stupid.

Joker, shot in the face

Every time some strays come to meet us and walk with us I get panic attacks. I try not to photograph them, I try not to remember their faces, I dread the moment when I will see a post about them being shot or ran over or poisoned. I am freaking out. I am here right now and in a while I have to walk my dogs. And they are waiting for that moment because they love it. And I am waiting for it too, but at the same time I am terrified.

I walk on the beach and try not to look at people in the face. I see them drink their coffee, eat their dinner and have fun in the restaurants and cafes by the sea and I hate them. I see the beauty in front of me and at the same time the pictures of Bruno, River and Joker who was shot in the face pass in front of my eyes and make me wanna scream.

Nafpaktos is not the only place in Greece that is two faced. The entire country is like that. But this is a town I know better, I have met its strays and its people, so I write about them.

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3 thoughts on “Beautiful Ugly Place – The Two Faced Town Of Nafpaktos”

    1. This is what I wrote to the mayor today:

      Dear Mr. Loukopoulos,

      this is a follow up for my email from March, the 19th.

      As I have been informed today, another seven dead puppies have been found today on Psanis Beach, Nafpaktos. Stuffed in a plastic bag and left to drown. Under German law, this would be considered a serious criminal offense with prison time. Obviously, we love our dogs. In fact, in a few of our states, a dog-owner-license is mandatory. We pay taxes for our dogs. Germany is home of the largest animal welfare charity in Europe and also of the largest animal shelter in Berlin. We don’t have a problem with strays, even though it is forbidden by law to neuter other than for health reasons. Why? Because we are educated regarding animal welfare, starting as soon as kindergarten.

      Your beautiful country, rich in ancient history and considered to be the cradle of civilization, was on the verge of bankruptcy a few years ago. With the help of members of the European Union Greece was saved. For the time being. The prognosis is not very good, isn’t it? Taxes have been increased, pensions almost halved. 300 billion Euros are to be paid back, from what? Is Greece on the verge of exiting the European Union, albeit unvoluntarily? Our government is not so keen on letting Greece off the financial hook, this time around, even less on shoving more money down Greeces’ throat. Our leading party wants to win the coming elections and – due to the fuss caused by the refugees – doesn’t want to risk losing voters for helping out again. The last time our citizens couldn’t have cared less if Greece goes down the drain or not, because hey, the beaches will still be there and who doesn’t want a cheap vacation?

      Mr. Loukopoulos, I am indeed a very political person. And very angry. Angry that, despite your promise, nothing has changed. I do understand that as a mayor, you might have other urgent problems than animal welfare on your mind. Thankfully, others have it on their mind and I see it as your duty to support them in any way that you can. Do something about it, enforce the existing laws. Educate your community. Let them surrender the dogs rather than drowning, shooting or poisoning them. Open a shelter for that exact purpose. Just be civilized. And show other communities and municipalities that there are other ways to handle animal welfare other than looking the other way and making promises that you do not intend to keep.

      I will visit your supposedly beautiful city soon and just hope that something substantially has indeed happened.

      Laura Luttmer-Nanz

  1. Why is it that when I watch the Greek news and see the people crying over their halved pensions or being unemployed I feel no sympathy whatsoever for them? And I can cry my eyes out over the animal horror stories? Maybe because I believe Karma always comes around? Like they are paying for their atrocities towards animals? Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone, don’t get me wrong! Thank God for the human angels who make it their priority to save the furry angels!

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