Stories and Photographs of my travels, Tales of friends, family, animals and my life
I always knew that the dog would not live a long life. When he first arrived in the village and started living under cars in the square, it was clear from his condition and half starved frame that he had been on the streets for a while. Fleas, worms, ticks, mites, tick fever, you name it he had it. Yet looking beyond the dirty unkempt coat and sticky out ribs you saw the big paws that were offered to you on meeting and that indicated his puppy status. The loving intelligent eyes, a honey golden white flecked coat, a tail that never gave up wagging even when he was stressed, scared or in pain. As he arrived at the same time as some builders who were working on the house up the street we thought that he belonged to one of them. But when they finished and left he stayed and survived on scraps from tourists and some of the more kind hearted villagers.
Asking around to see if he did have an owner we were given a number of conflicting answers. Oh that’s Manoli, his owner was one of the builders, or that’s Karomella his owner lives in Lekka or he’s owned by a guy with long hair and is a musician who lives up the back of the village but had to suddenly go to Athens. I can only conclude that they were either as confused as us or it was total bullshit as the fine for dumping dogs is high and they were covering for someone.
Having got nowhere I decided to it would not hurt to supplement his diet with a regular meal a day whilst promising myself not to get to attached. Yeah well you can guess how well that went. It was a gradual thing though. The neighbours complained about fleas when he came around for his meal, so I bought him a flea collar. It was clear he had worms so I dewormed him. The neighbours complained about dog hair, so I regularly brushed him. He got sick, I gave him antibiotics. He was bitten in neck by a dog and it went septic, I called a vet out. When she arrived the dog, having never met her before, still wagging his tail but in obvious pain,sat down and gave her his paw. She treated him and he didn’t cry or try to bite her. From that moment I knew he would become part of our pack and we had to look after this gentle, trusting, loving animal. So the street dog with 2 names got his third and final name, the only name he chose to respond to, Paleoti.
Our beautiful and very talented relative Melina who is Greek Australian painted this heartbreaking image. It seems to have touched many people and her post is going viral. She has given permission for the image to be shared but asks that a donation be made to one of the many charities set up to deal with the crisis. Her website on face book is called Melina illustrates – https://www.facebook.com/melanippeart/ if you would like to follow the thread and see the photo /comments/ links to donation sites.
Currently Mitch’s brother and his family, who were trapped on the beach in Malacoota, are still in their car trying to get out and back to Melbourne. We have friends and family in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the territories, We are thinking of you all. XXXXXXXX
N.B. Please note the date on the picture should read 2020 not 2019 – already acknowledged by Melina as a mistake. Something a lot of us do at the beginning of a new year.
Yes we do have painted ladies on the island – they drive around in a phallus shaped car, wear skimpy fake leopard skin tight clothes, have dyed blonde hair with extensions and wear pole dancing shoes. No wonder they have so many dings in the car – how can you drive in those things? Anyway I’m talking about a different kind of painted lady which currently refuses to sit still long enough for me to take a photo. A few days ago clouds of butterflies flew over the house and I mean hundreds of them . I thought they were red admirals but was reliably informed they were painted ladies – although I’m sure there were a few admirals. So far April has been amazing – the downpours have created a paint palette of colour. Mauve, pink, yellow, orange, white, blue, crimson and red flowers set off by a multi green hued back drop of vegetation. Now I’m not a flora and fauna buff but I was very happy when I found my first orchid on one of my morning treks with the dog (see above picture) and I even borrowed a book to identify it . Well actually the reason I borrowed the book was more food orientated. I read on the net that there was wild celery growing on the island but the flowers looked like those of the nightshade plant. Wanting to save friends and family from an ugly death by soup , I decided to check my facts. Although, the method of killing would make a great addition to Cludo. Mrs White, in the Dining Room, with the soup. Unless she picked the nightshade by mistake and killed herself along with all the guests – game over.
Well the book has lovely photographs which are labelled in Latin and no obvious alphabetical system to look them up. I decided to give the search for wild celery a miss . However, I did find a picture similar to my photo. Yes it is an orchid possibly related to the scolopax scolopax or sphegodes. Personally I think the flower I found should be call socutiex picachewesk. It looks like a friendly little insect to me.
Dogs die. But dogs live, too. Right up until they die, they live. They live brave, beautiful lives. They protect their families. And love us, and make our lives a little brighter, and they don’t waste time being afraid of tomorrow.” – Dan Gemeinhart
We knew he was really sick when he stopped eating. This time he had consumed something really rank. Every half hour all night we were taking him out to be sick or go to the loo. He moaned in pain all the time and when morning came we rushed him to the vet ( they don’t operate at night) . Our neighbour , Kristoula, who thinks she is a expert having kept goats and chickens all her life told us that he would sort himself out and come good. Two lots of IV fluids, intravenous antibiotics, oral medication, 10 days of worry and sleepless nights later he has started to eat and drink again but is still not really well yet. I put him outside for a while so Kristula could make a fuss of him. “See I told you he would come good ” she said.
Let me take you back to May 2017 when this young juvenile dog turned up in the village with his little protector.
It took a while to realise that the dogs had been abandoned and had made their way to our village. During May Athenians begin to arrive for their holidays , the weather is perfect building work, gardens are being tended and tourists are out walking. As many owned dogs are just left to wander the streets and fed outside sometimes it is hard to pick out the strays (as detailed in an earlier blog) .
One consistent story that we were told was that the dog’s owner had left the island and gone to Athens making no provision for him . Anyway when the dog got sick from a bite we fed him, organised a vet to visit, medicated him and nursed him back to health. During that time we fell for his clownish, gentle good nature, constantly wagging tail and fixed grin – despite the pain he was in .
We found a shelter to take him on when we left the island to return to Australia, assuring the volunteers that we would pick him up when we returned the following year. Mitch arrived ahead of me in 2018 , travelling with a number of dog related items in his luggage in order to start the process working on his training and health.
One evening whilst drinking in a friends bar, a man started to make a fuss of the dog and taking pictures to send to his girlfriend. “This used to be my dog” he boasted. Why did you leave him on the streets? he was asked by a bunch of very irate friends of ours and Mitch “I had to go to Athens suddenly” he replied with no shame . I’m not sure what followed but I understand he was told in no uncertain terms what an arsehole he was.
Now there are large fines for the abusive behaviour towards dogs. Luckily for him I was not there otherwise he would have been reported. Mitch just asked him if he wanted him back – sarcastically I was assured later. “What if he had said yes” I asked. “Apart from the fact that the dog was mistreated with him what about the large sum of money and time we have spent ” . I was assured that the comment had been a joke – from a distance though it didn’t seem that funny.
This is Paleoti. He was abandoned by his last owner and and became a street dog who lived off scraps the villagers fed him and, I presume , by scavenging. Just under 2 years ago Paleoti came into our lives when he found his way to our village and hung around the square with his mate Penelope – another abandoned dog. The dog was always hungry and even when he got very sick from a dog bite on his neck that became infected, he managed to chow down the food we put in front of him. I will tell the whole story in another blog of how we came to adopt him , but for now I just want to say that this dog will eat anything and seems to have a cast iron stomach. So today my dog snacked on used toilet tissue (not mine I hasten to add) that was up by the bins, rabbit droppings a dead bird, a green bone that the cats had abandoned, dirt, my potting soil and gravel. This is in addition to the food we give him twice a day and biscuit treats. I would love to hear what the worst thing your animal has consumed 🙂
Looking back on this blog I realise just how long it has been since I have written about life on the island. 2017 was a busy time for us, The garden was under development, plans for heating to be installed in the house underway, we were fully booked with friends and guests and visitors in our spare apartment, family and friends were arriving for the summer season and our social calendar was chockablock.
Despite the storm, the garden was very productive and we had to develop new culinary skills in pickling and preserving. I decided it was time to learn Greek and blues harmonica. The first out of necessity, the second a long standing wish. Also the jewellery design business was beginning to take off and I needed to make more merchandise.
We were planning to stay for Winter but events meant that we had to return to Australia in September 2017. The house with the pink shutters was closed up and we returned in 2018 . The next few blogs will be a catch up until present time .
High in the mountain hills, up a road that steeply winds through rowed grape vines soaking in the last rays of sunshine, we drove into one of the highest villages on Samos Island. On the outskirts of the village is a restaurant, built on an edge that gives at least a 180 degree view of the coast, mountains and valley below. It seems as if the restaurant floats in the sky. The food is a tasty take on traditional fare, the staff are friendly, the wine is excellent, the prices are reasonable and the sunset is spectacular. Where is it? You will just have to come and visit to find out!
Our Stray Street Dogs after being cared for and fattened up.
This is a story of two stray dogs. Paleoti (village dog in Greek) and Penelope were abandoned and turned up in our village on Samos Island, Greece in May 2017 of this year. They were dirty, starving, and sick. Villagers and tourists fed the dogs scraps and tried to look after them, however they did not have the money to pay for vet fees, proper dog food or medication. Both dogs are loving and friendly and have developed a close bond with each other from being on the streets. We bought the dogs proper dog food to supplement the scraps, provided flea and tick collars, paid for a vet, medication and cared for Paleoti when he became very sick. By this time Penelope found a home in the village and was being cared for. We had also become very found of our smiling stray who never stopped wagging his tail, despite being in a lot of pain. He tolerated my nursing with patience and loving licks. Unfortunately and unexpectedly we had to leave Samos and return to Australia for a number of months, so we attempted to find someone to care for him whilst we were away. A number of people offered but then backed out. We knew that the animal shelter funded by voluntary contributions and a grant from the council had closed in 2016 and thought there was no place for the many abandoned animals to be taken and cared for. I was also aware that the illegal killing of unwanted animals ie poisioning/shooting had increased, so was desperate to find a home for Paleoti before we left as I’d been informed by someone that he was going to be ‘got rid’ of when we left. Now this is where a good fortune and luck comes into the story. We found a letter posted on a site where an abused animal had been chained up and rescued, from an organisation call Samos Animal Welfare. I called and she told me that the shelter had reopened, now run by the council, but was overflowing with strays. She also told us that a local animal lover had built a dog shelter on his land and was taking in strays. It was also full, he had 90 dogs in the shelter, but he might be able help. After a number of phone calls we met with Ilias who gives up his time, with no pay to look after the dogs, and Melanie who raises funds for food and building materials. They agreed to take the dog and look after him until we returned. We donated food and money in return for his care. Paleoti seemed to settle in to the shelter but decided he missed us and his mate Penelope. He escaped twice – ending up back in the village on our doorstep. We had left by this point but our network found him and he was returned safe and sound. The shelter needs funds to build and repair kennels, make a secure place for dogs such as Paleoti, who has the gift of an escapologist, pay for someone to look after the dogs on a full time basis and pay for medication and vets bills. We plan to return to Samos and offer Paleoti a home but there are so many more dogs and animals that need to be cared for. Can you help? I have set up a crowd fundraiser at https://www.youcaring.com/samosanimalwelfaresanctuary-1013204
Last year, as part of the gardening plan, we decided to keep the bath tub when we renovated the bathroom and installed a walk in shower. Having been a social worker for a good part of my life I have seen way too many older people admitted to hospital with broken hips, hypothermia, head injuries and an assortment of other broken bones and skin tears. The cause? A shower installed over a bathtub. A huge falls risk for people with limited mobility and creaky joints. So in the spirit of planning ahead and thinking about our retirement home – we decided that bath tub had to go and with it the daily battle with the shower curtain that constantly tried to mould itself to our bodies.
Our neighbour, Kosta, who happens to be a good tiler, reliable and hardworking – a rare combination for a tradesman on Samos if my experience is anything to go by on this island was hired to carry out most of the work. Our plumber, George, popped in and out to give orders and delegate. First the bath had to be removed and being one of those old cast iron affairs which would be worth a small fortune in scrap but extremely heavy and difficult to transport even if we had a car/truck, we had to decide what to do with it. So I polled my friends for a solution. My preference was to use it as a herb garden down at the allotment or on the terrace of the little unit opposite the house. Most of my friends liked the idea of using it as a huge ice bucket for social gatherings and I have to say that I was tempted for a while. As it turned out the bath was so heavy that the only solution was to move it a short distance onto the terrace and leave it there.
When we returned this year one of the first things on our list of to do was to build a wood surround to support the bath and turn it into a useful item rather than a redundant, rusty, enamel chipped tub. Then I had an idea how to make the it multi-functional that is both garden and ice bucket. Currently I have strawberries in the bath but they are planted in a grow bag that can be removed at a moments notice should a container be required hold a ton of ice in order to chill the copious amounts of alcohol that my friends consume, and clearly think that the two fridges in our house are inadequate. So there, I have planned for happy gardeners and happy drinkers. After all if strawberries and champagne is good enough for Wimbledon its good enough for us. Should be a good summer.