Stray Dogs in Athens
Your article regarding the stray dogs in Athens and Greece (in general) really touched a special place in my heart. You see, I visited Athens for the first time in September 2003 and being an animal lover, seeing all the stray dogs and cats made me very sad. The first day when I was took the bus from the airport to my hotel- the Cypria Hotel, I saw so many stray dogs walking in the streets. I was actually shocked, because all the Greece info sites and books that I read before going to Greece did not mention the problem they had with strays. I wanted to take home each and every stray that I saw.
There was this one stray dog that (i would like to think was my guardian angel- an angel) followed my two friends and I as we walked very late at night (past 12 a.m.) back to our hotel. The walk was about 1 and a half hour long because we didn't realize that Athen's new subway system stopped running after 12 a.m. (? or was it 11 p.m.?), and we missed the last bus too, so us visiting Athens for the first time, we decided to walk back to our hotel. We could've have easily taken the taxi but we were on a tight budget as my two friends just graduated from college ("poor college students") and I guess they were feeling adventurous. (And as we just got back from a day trip to Delphi and we took a regular bus and found the bus station all by ourselves- no tour guides, no taxis ). Walking back to the hotel, we passed through some seedy neighborhoods but to get through it we just walked at a fast pace and ignoring anything else. So we come across this movie theater, and my eye catches this stray dog across the street (that as you described are street smart - waited for some pedestrians to cross and crossed with them), and the dog came over to our street, and was wagging his/her tail at anyone in front of the theater. I saw some teenage kids seem hostile to the dog so I quickly went to the dog and motioned the dog to follow us. The dog happily obliged, and with his/her tail wagging followed us all the way back to our hotel. I made sure that it was always with us on the walk,and when it seemed that people wanted to do harm to the dog, I made it obvious that it was "my"dog. I made kissy sounds to the dog so that it knows that I'm still with him/her so that he/she will follow us. In a lot of ways having the dog follow us back to the hotel (this was a LONG walk - took us over 1 hour to get to the hotel) made me feel safer. People tend to wantto keep their distance from dogs in fears of getting attacked, etc.. And when I got back to my hotel, I was getting teary because I knew I could not let the dog in (as much as I really wanted to),and the dog stood right in front of the lobby door staring in at me while I stood in the lobby . I went up to the dog and said "I am so sorry, I don't know what to do....I would keep you if I can but I'm in a foreign place and don't know how to keep you." For some reason the dog seemed to understand as he stared at me, then he/she looked down the alley and walked off. For the brief 5 seconds I stood still, feeling all at the same time - guilty, sad, heartbroken. Then I quickly hurried out of the hotel and went to the samedirection that the dog went, and there was absolutely no sign of the dog. I didn't even get to thank the dog or give him/her something to eat. The dog just disapperared.
In hindsight, I would like to think that the dog was my guardian angel in disguise. There to protect me and my friends as we found our way through foreign neighborhoods in the middle of the night,and not knowing a word of Greek. But I also think that I should've tried to take the dog back to the US with me. But I just did not how to do that. The next day I had to leave for Mykonos,and I didn't know if who or where that can take care of the dog for me and what the steps are to transport dog oversea, or if the Greek customs find it acceptable or appropriate to do anything liek that....I still think about the dog a lot, I hope if it living a healthy happy life. and maybe the dog is loving his city life, or maybe some kind samaritan took the dog in to live his life out in a comfy house with food and shelter and love. I think the next time I go back to visit ,I will make sure that if I ever come across an angel, I will try to do something.
Now, I guess my story came out as a result of reading your article esepcially about Dogopotomus. Do you know if she is still roaming the streets, or still in the same corner? HAve you heard from any viewers regarding her whereabouts?
Am I allowed to adopt her? (would you by any chance know how to do this or the athens humane society that would know how to do this?)
Seeing any animals always touch a special place in my heart. If I could i would want to help all of them,and stop any inhumane treatments of all animals.
I also wanted to let you know that your webstie about Greece is very helpful - so accurate and very detailed. It has helped me a lot on my trip to Greece. Thank you so much for all your helpful information and guides to all the places in Greece.
(Baltimore, MD -but originally from NYC,NY)