Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Love comes home: the challenging rescue of a sick and bloody street dog

Photo: Katerina Lorenzatos Makris

 by Katerina Lorenzatos Makris

A few weeks ago when I suggested to a friend that she write a book about some of her life experiences, she said she can’t yet, because those experiences are still too fresh and painful.

“Oh, but do give it a try,” my sanctimonious self urged her. “That’s often when we do our best writing—when things are fresh and painful!”

Today, I sit at the keyboard trying to describe the ten days I worked to catch the gruesomely bloody dog in the village of Troianata here on the Greek island of Kefalonia, and totally get what my friend meant. At the moment, I don’t want to relive those ten days. They were some of the roughest ever.

Learning curves

To explain some of it, there’s an email I sent to another friend, Melissa Beamish, about midway through that awful period. By then, Melissa had finished her month of volunteering at Animal Rescue Kefalonia (ARK), the local shelter, and returned to England to regroup and plan the next segment of her mission to pitch in at shelters around the world. I had promised to keep her updated, since we’d first seen the Troianata dog together, and since she was just as worried about him as I was.

“I've learned something important from this experience,” I wrote to her. “I never, ever should've driven away without the dog that night we first saw him.  It's just that it was all so problematic! He was barking at us nonstop so I didn't know if he'd bite us, and even if by some miracle we managed to get him into the car, he had a terrible skin condition so I didn't know if we'd catch whatever he had, and we were supposed to be enjoying a little holiday, and I felt bad about laying yet another messed-up dog on you during what was supposed to be your day off from taking care of messed-up dogs!

“Plus I had the grand plan for our dinner at home, and I wasn't looking forward to all the stuff we'd have to do for him even IF we were able to get him home. And all the vets were closed. And I was hungry and needed to use the potty.”

My rant continued: “I just put too much faith in the notion that I'd be able to find the dog again easily. WHAT WAS I THINKING??????  There are no guarantees that a stray dog will ever be in any particular spot at any particular time.  Why was I so confident about finding him again????

“Now I am really beside myself with worry, and I've wasted hours upon hours going back and forth to that village to look for him, not to mention petrol and the cost of renting the car that I was supposed to return on Monday!!! 

“That very night I should have begged Petros [the local resident who had been feeding the dog] to help us catch him and get him into the car.  From there on I'm sure we could have managed.  I don't know how exactly, but between the two of us we'd have figured it out!” 

“OK, I’m done with the rant,” I concluded. “Hindsight is always 20/20, and at least this was a very valuable lesson learned.  Next time this happens, next time I see another street dog in such terrible shape, I will move heaven and earth and do my best to attend to the dog right then and there, because now I know that if you wait, there are no guarantees you'll ever see him again.”

Melissa, bless her, gently reassured me. We had done the best we could under the circumstances, she said, and I should stop beating myself up, and things might still work out just the way they should.   

Her steadfast support during the search for the Troianata dog and her extraordinary dedication to hands-on, in-the-trenches animal welfare work has reaffirmed my conviction that one of the best things about rescuing animals is not just the animals you meet, but also the human friends you make along the way. If I hadn’t gotten mixed up in helping critters during my time here in Greece, I never would have had the privilege of getting to know Melissa Beamish.

Team effort

Four days after that email exchange, following drama, intrigue, research, networking, sleepless nights, and the burn of a whole river’s worth of time and gasoline, and only with generous and heroic help from Petros and from friends Yianni Gnesouli, Yvonne Walser, Mary Cox, and a gentleman who wishes to remain anonymous, finally the sick, bloody Troianata dog came home with me.

His name is Agapi, the Greek word for “love,” because that’s what he needs, and that’s what he gives.

Photo: Katerina Lorenzatos Makris
More about Agapi:

Please visit The Dozen Dogs Diaries again soon for upcoming articles about Agapi.

Better yet, sign in with the 'Join this blog' button above to receive an email notice whenever there's a new article.

Read Melissa Beamish's excellent blog about her round-the-world trip volunteering in animal shelters.

To donate or to volunteer on behalf of animals in Kefalonia, contact Animal Rescue Kefalonia (ARK) and Kefalonia Animal Trust (KATs).

The Dozen Dog Diaries (DDD) would be delighted if you'd spread the links to these articles. Please just keep in mind that reprint or re-post of more than a paragraph or two of the text or of any of the photos is allowable only by explicit permission from DDD, who may be contacted at youradopteddogATyahooDOTcom. Thanks for visiting!

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